Cedartown officials looking at liquor tax
♦ 3 percent excise locally proposed for shots, mixed drinks served in restaurants; would be around 21 cents extra per drink
A change to the City of Cedartown’s alcohol ordinance is coming this week after press time when commissioners were expected to vote on instituting a tax on mixed drinks and shots that could have been instituted when liquor was first allowed locally.
Cedartown Assistant City Manager Edward Guzman brought the ordinance change before the board and explained that it would only incur additional costs on drinks served in only a few restaurants within the city limits at 3 percent on liquor drinks.
“What this does, it would institute a three percent excise tax on sales of liquor by the drink, which for example would be a shot of tequila or a margarita,” Guzman said.
He further explained that the three percent would amount to around 21 cent based on his calculations, and that it was something other cities around
the region have already had in place since Georgia changed alcohol ordinances in the 1980s.
“This is something the vast majority of the area already has in place,” Guzman said. “Rockmart has had it in place since 2005, and it’s a tool that cities have had for years.”
Some leeway would also be given to restaurants who offer liquor sales to patrons on when taxes will first be due. If the program were to start in 2019, they’ll have a couple of months to look at what they are expected to pay before writing their first check.
The three percent isn’t expected to generate much revenue at the moment either, Guzman and City Manager Bill Fann both explained when questioned by commissioners about the numbers.
Guzman provided conservative estimates of somewhere in the range of $5,000 to $7,000 annually. Revenue would go into the general fund for any use and isn’t earmarked for any particular project, Guzman said.
“We don’t want to get to high on something we don’t have actual numbers on,” Guzman said. “Currently the city has no estimate on what these restaurant’s liquor sales are.”
Commission Chair Jordan Hubbard also asked about what area cities collect in revenue close to Cedartown’s size.
The 3 percent is a stateset limit, which if set any lower wouldn’t generate enough revenue to make it worthwhile to institute, Fann said. Commissioners did ask, but Fann said if the rate were less than 3 percent the cost of collections could easily outweigh the benefit of additional revenue.
Of note in the conversation was expansion, and the hopes that in the future that if new restaurants move to the area with the forthcoming new addition of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 926’s training program center being moved to Cedartown, the hopes are that it might provide a new growth of revenue for the city facing tighter budget years annually.
Commissioners will likely be voting on the ordinance change during their December session, and all were in favor of instituting the 3 percent excise tax as conversations came to a close during the city’s work session last week.
As Cedartown moves into a new budget year for FY 2019 at the start of January, they held their required Public Hearing on the budget last week as well. A proposal of $8.3 million in revenue and spending was put before commissioners in November, and was set to be decided during the Dec. 10 session held earlier in the week after press time.
No one spoke for or against the figures that Cedartown’s Commissioners are looking to vote on during the work session on Dec. 3. They were set to vote on spending for the year during their Dec. 10 meeting held after press time this previous Monday.
Fann also provided updates on several projects underway within the city, including the news that the IUOE Local 926’s property in Clayton County was closed on in past weeks, and equipment should begin moving into their new home on a portion of the Earley Property being promoted for expansion by the Development Authority of Polk County.
He expected their closure on 90 acres of the land to be completed this week, and work to begin in the new year on their new development.
Rockmart’s Kaleb Shelton, Tyler Abrams, Dylan Bailey and C.J. Culver were among players at the front of the team marching in the 2018 Christmas Parade down Marble Street as the grand marshals in honor of their historic 14-0 run to the state title game.