Council Waves Second Liquor License Fee Payment to Help Businesses Still Recovering from Shutdowns

By Jeremy Coumbes on June 15, 2021 at 2:14pm

Some businesses in Jacksonville received a bit of financial help from the City Council last night.

Restaurants and bars in Jacksonville that are still attempting to recover financially from two complete shutdowns last year due to COVID pandemic mitigation efforts by the state now have one less bill to worry about.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to wave the second payment for certain classifications of city liquor licenses. Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says the action continued assistance given by the city in January when the first payments for licenses were due.

The City Council felt that we are in a position that we want to continue to help certain liquor license classifications, the ones that we helped out the last time that were closed during the pandemic and struggled. So basically we are just waving the 2021 liquor license fees for those certain classifications and we will resume in 2022.”

Ezard says some businesses flourished during the shut down such as retailers that sell package liquor, while those that sell liquor for consumption on the premises took a major hit financially.

As liquor commissioner for the City of Jacksonville, Ezard says he and the council understand and sympathize with these businesses and it is their hope that the move helps the business owners to keep their heads above water.

We know there were many challenges and some we haven’t even heard about. I mean, we know the stories, you’ve covered them, I’ve talked with them, the aldermen have talked with them. And if we’re in a position, which we are financially, to help our businesses in Jacksonville in a small way then we accomplish that. We hope that they succeed and move on. And now that the pandemic looks to be getting near the end, and we will just look forward to getting back to normal.”

Ezard says the city annually takes in approximately $90,000 in total from liquor license fees from businesses in the city limits. He says the waving of the 2021 fees for restaurants and bars will cost the city $30,000 of that total for the year.

He says the council feels the city is in a sound financial position, and would rather forgo the revenue this year if it will help keep local businesses open.