Beer Bucks Boost Budget, Business

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Allowing the sale of beer by stores and restaurants within the Woodbury City Limits was a controversial issue when the Woodbury Mayor and Board of Alderman gave it approval to do so last spring.

However, from a financial standpoint at least, it is proving so far to be a good move.

Where it not for the sale of beer, local sales tax revenue would have been down during the months of June through August of this year from the same time period in 2008.

As of August 31, 2009, the total wholesale beer tax paid to the town was $12,691.32 (covering the months of May, June and July), an average of $4,227.77 per month

Revenue from application fees and licenses to date has brought in an additional $2,140.66.

"The impressive stat that I see is the maintenance of the sales tax revenue, keeping pace with what we were last year given the downturn in the economy," Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick said.

Woodbury local sales tax revenue from June through August in 2008 was $88,150.80. During those months this year, it was $89,684.33.

The first beer permits were issued May 5, 2009.

The Town of Woodbury currently has six (6) businesses licensed to sell beer, and one pending approval.

"The main objective in allow beer to be sold in Woodbury was to give our business people a chance to earn more income and that is happening," Patrick said.

"One gentleman who got his beer license in May told me May was the best month he had ever had, that June was a better month than May, and July was better than June," Patrick said.

Revenue to date from application fees and licenses to date is $2,140.66.

While local sales tax revenue increased slightly from a year ago during the months of June through August, there was a decrease in state sales tax revenue, from $43,570.27 to $39,179.42,

"I personally think that our local sales tax revenue was up, due in part to the beer sales, but also because I think people were not traveling out of town as frequently to make other purchases, due to the economy and the high price of gasoline. People were shopping more at home," Charlene Odom, Woodbury City Recorder, said.

"Secondly, state sales tax revenues were down all across the state due to economic factors. I can only say that ours would have been even less, if not for the beer sales. In short, beer sales has helped make up some of the shortfall in the state sales tax," she added.

Beer distributors pay a 17% wholesale beer tax directly to the Town of Woodbury each month.

There is a $250 application fee (non-refundable) to apply for a beer license (one-time charge)

Businesses pay a $100 annual license fee in January of each year.

The distributors the town is receiving wholesale beer tax from are Budweiser of Cookeville and SEC Enterprises of Cookeville.

The six businesses who currently have a license to sell or serve beer are First Stop Market, Osborne's Bi-Rite, West End Tobacco Outlet, Chilango's Restaurant, DJ's Restaurant and Dollar General Market. The Scoreboard, a restaurant that is planning to open on downtown Main St. near the Square, has applied for a license but it has not yet been approved by the town's beer board. DJ's has not yet begun serving beer.

One concern expressed by those who opposed allowing beer to be sold in Woodbury was it would bring about an increase in the number of people driving while intoxicated.

However, according to statistics provided by Woodbury Police Chief Tony Burnett, that scenario has not played out to date.

Woodbury Police charged six people with DUI from June 1 through August 31 of this year. In 2008, the number arrested for DUI during that time period was 11. Going further back, the numbers for June through August were six in 2005, two in 2006 and nine in 2007.

"Keep in mind that many of our DUI arrests are not alcohol but drug related," Burnett pointed out.

Mayor Patrick said the passage of the beer ordinance has helped merchants with their revenue, and he thinks it will help bring more businesses to Woodbury.

"We have had some restaurant businesses tell us in the past the numbers were there for them to locate here, but that we didn't have beer so they didn't," Patrick said. "Now they are saying they will look at us again in the near future when the economy improves.
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