Jacksonville bars and restaurants struggling due to COVID-19 mitigations got a shot of help from the City Council last night.
The City Council passed a resolution proposed by Mayor Andy Ezard, waving the first six months liquor license fee for certain establishments in the city. Ezard said during Monday night’s meeting that some businesses have flourished, while others have spent a large part of the year completely closed.
He says he is glad the council took action to give restaurants and bars at least a small measure of help.
“We all know this has been a very difficult time and whenever the city has a chance to help out those businesses that have really struggled through this pandemic, we’re happy to do that. This has been on the Council’s radar for a while and it cam to fruition tonight.
We are happy in a small way to help out some struggling businesses. There’s a lot more out there but they are out of our control for the most part. When a license like this is due at the end of the year and they are going through their struggles, and then you just hate to add on to those struggles, so it was very appropriate that we helped out in a small way at least.”
Ezard says the city takes in on average approximately $90,000.00 each year on liquor license fees, and the waver of the first half of the fees could cost the city upwards of $45,000.00. Fees will be waved for multiple license classifications, with all having the common denominator of selling liquor for on site consumption at the business.
Establishments are required to have their city liquor license before they can apply for their state license each year.
Ezard says although the majority if not all of the license holders have already paid their first half fees, with the possibility of this resolution passing the council so soon after the first of the year, the checks haven’t been cashed yet.
“We are going to work that out internally, yes I’ve received them and have not cashed any of the checks yet from our liquor license holders that qualify for this. So however the bookkeepers want to do it. We’re either going to tear them up or just keep them. We are going to reevaluate this after six months and see how things are going.
If they are opened up for business then we may charge them for the next six months. But it’s just a little gesture that we feel for you and we are wanting to help out.”
The resolution passed nearly unanimously with Alderman Jeff Hopkins stating that he would vote present due to his not being in attendance when workshop discussion on the matter was had, and Alderman Brandon Adams who also voted present.
In related news, the city ordinance pertaining to liquor licenses was amended to decrease the overall total of licenses in the city by three due to the closing of the J.P. Convenience Store, Ponderosa and Lira’s Italian Restaurant.