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Rockdale to consider prorating alcohol license fees

CONYERS — The first reading of an ordinance that would allow proration of county alcohol license fees is slated to be on the Board of Commissioners’ July 23 agenda.

Resident Luke Boswell asked commissioners at the July 9 BOC meeting to consider proration of the license fees. Boswell, who has a new restaurant on Salem Road, said it would be cost prohibitive for him to purchase a license to sell alcohol by the drink for the remaining five months of the year. He asked that commissioners consider prorating the license fee, noting that other start-up costs for his restaurant — such as rent — have been prorated.

Boswell said there are 20 potential employees he could hire if he could afford the alcohol license.

“I don’t want to tell these people who have been waiting for a job that I can’t hire you because I can’t afford the license,” he said.

According to the county’s website, the annual license fee for on-premise consumption of beer and wine for restaurants is $750; the license fee for beer, wine and liquor is $3,250.

Marshall Walker, director of Planning and Development for the county, told Commissioners Oz Nesbitt and JaNice Van Ness Tuesday that his department has reviewed licensing practices in 10 or 11 other jurisdictions.

Chairman Richard Oden was absent from the meeting.

Walker said Planning and Development will make a proposal to the board on prorating licenses, and noted that there are a couple of options. One option would call for payment of the full fee if the license is received in the first six months of the year and 50 percent of the rate if the license is received in the last six months of the year.

Another possible change, Walker said, would be to make licenses renewable on a July to June basis rather than January to December. Walker said food and beverage businesses usually are busiest and generate a significant portion of their revenue around the holidays.

“Many of them don’t really have the money until after that period to pay for the alcohol license,” said Walker, adding that a change to a July to June cycle would require payment “in the middle of the year away from all the holidays and the hoopla at the end of the year, and (it) gives them an opportunity … at a less hectic time for renewal of their license.”

Walker said of the other jurisdictions surveyed, four require full payment in the first six months of the year and 50 percent in the last six months of the year; several require the full fee in the first six months of the period and then prorate by the month after that; and others do not prorate at all.