LANESBOROUGH — Local restaurants, bars and alcohol retailers will get to sell their booze next year — free of a town fee.
Acting as the town’s licensing authority, the Select Board has waived the annual liquor license charge for 13 establishments, saving them a total of $13,150 for 2021.
Lanesborough joins Dalton and North Adams, which, this month, also cut liquor license-holders a break on their fees, as many have been closed or had limited hours because of the economic ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Liquor licenses can be costly [for the licensee,] especially when you’re getting no revenue,” Lanesborough Town Manager Kelli Robbins said at the board’s regular Monday night meeting.
Nine of the 13 license-holders pay the maximum of $1,250 for all alcohol permits: seven are restaurants; two are package stores. Two restaurants serve only beer and wine and pay a $600 annual fee, with one package store assessed $700 for beer and wine retail sales.
The board toyed with the idea of waiving fees for entertainment, business and other licenses. The savings would be minimal to the holder, but costly to the town’s revenue stream, according to Robbins.
“If we were to do this across the board, waiving other local options, then it would have a heavy impact on the town, but the liquor licenses would not,” she said.
Lanesborough is believed to be the first Berkshire city or town to abate the entire liquor license fee for 2021 because of COVID-19. The Dalton Select Board agreed to forgo the fee for at least the first half of next year, possibly reinstating it as of July 1. The decision cost the town $9,600 in local revenue.
The North Adams Licensing Board voted to reduce the fee to $100 across the board, a total of $25,000 in savings for bars, restaurants and retailers.
Typically, North Adams liquor licensees pay $900 to $1,575 for permission to sell alcoholic beverages.