Some relief might be coming to Jacksonville bars and restaurants in the new year.
Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says anything little thing the city can do to help struggling businesses he is willing to consider in what has been a tough, tough year, especially for food and drink establishments shuttered by COVID-19 restrictions.
“This is not the time to send out liquor license renewals for the next year, but they need to get their city license before they can go get their state license. I don’t know what the state has planned, but I know at the last couple of meetings I’ve touched on with the City Council that I’d like to do something for certain classifications within our liquor ordinance, to wave their first six months license fee, the first half of the annual fee.
Not to all liquor license holders because some have been business as usual and some have been just completely shut down, and this is for hose folks who’ve been really really really effected by the restrictions.”
Ezard says the businesses that need the most help are those where the liquor is consumed onsite.
“The typical license we would be waving the first fee payment for like the bars and restaurants. Their licenses are around $1,300.00 so if we can knock half of that off that helps them.
It’s just little things that we look at to try and help because we certainly want to help. I hear from them often and the impact this has had and the tough year they have had and we all feel for them. And we feel for a lot of folks that have been going through it, and this is just something little that we can help them with.”
Ezard says revenue from the sale of liquor licenses was never intended to be a large source of revenue for the city, more for administration purposes. The City of Jacksonville takes in roughly 90,000 each year from all liquor licenses issued, which includes package sales in grocery, convenience and liquor stores.
Ezard says he is hopeful that establishments will be able to reopen sooner rather than later, citing rumblings out of Springfield that Governor J.B. Pritzker may relax restrictions as early as the first half of January.
He says he is prepared to consider further assistance during the course of the new year, should the need arise.
“So we will wave that first six months if it passes. I’ll have a resolution ready for the council to vote up or down at the next meeting in January and we will move forward from there. And if COVID still stays around and things don’t get better and the restaurants and the bars don’t get opened back up, we will reevaluate that for the next six months.”
Ezard says he hopes the city council will be on board with the resolution in an effort to give struggling Jacksonville bars and restaurants a break as many remain closed completely during what is normally their busiest time of the year.
The Jacksonville City Council will hold their next regular meeting on January 11th.