Alcohol revenue down from last year
by David Lazenby
Aug 12, 2010 | 1827 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Have local communities that voted to go wet had a hand in drying beer tax revenue in Jasper? The city’s mayor said although the city’s revenue from beer sales is down this year, he believes a sobering economy may also have played a role in the decline.

Sonny Posey, the mayor of Jasper, said beer sales for the year are down about 2.5 percent from last year.

“We don’t know yet whether any of that is attributable to outlying areas that might have gone wet or if it just has to do with the overall economic slowdown,” Posey said. “There’s not much difference from the decline there and sales tax. Sales tax is probably off 5 or 6 percent for the year.”

Kathy Chambless, the city clerk of Jasper, said she expects revenue from beer sales to be down about 5 percent by the end of the year.

She said this would translate into a decrease in tax revenue of about $35,000 per year as compared to last year when the city garnered about $700,000 from commercial beer sales.

One thing that has changed in 2010 is the implementation of a Carbon Hill ordinance that allows businesses in the city to sell alcohol. This new law resulted from a Dec. 8 referendum on the matter passed by city voters 381-274.

Carbon Hill Mayor Chris Hart could not be reached for comment on how much revenue has been generated for the city by the sale of alcohol. However, at a recent City Council meeting, Hart said the beer business has been lucrative for the city, bringing in more than $20,000 this year.

Several other small towns in north Alabama have had their own referendum on alcohol ordinances this year. However, most of them have failed to pass.

A convenience store owner who operates a business on Highway 78 in Jasper estimated on Tuesday that beer sales at his store are down by about 10 percent this year. The businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he believes Carbon Hill going wet has been a factor in the decline at his store.

While beer tax revenue is down in Jasper, Chambless said the city’s tax revenue from the sale of tobacco products is up this year, which may indicate the recession is not to blame for the decrease in beer tax earnings for the City of Jasper.

Last year, the city earned $194,000 from taxes on the sale of tobacco products. This year, Chambless projects the city will get about $250,000 for the year.

“Our revenue we receive has increased,” Chambless said. “You wouldn’t think tobacco tax would be increased.”

While beer tax revenue is down, Chambless said the city’s revenue from the sale of liquor is about the same as it was last year.

She said this was expected because of the lack of liquor stores run by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in surrounding communities.