With nearly 18 months of legal alcohol sales under the City of Cullman’s belt, fresh revenue is steadily pouring in and businesses are upholding the spirit of the laws governing how stores and restaurants dispense the products, according to Cullman Alcohol Compliance Officer Freddie Day.
Speaking at Cullman Rotary’s weekly gathering Thursday, Day said revenue from alcohol sales for the fiscal year is on track to reach $1.2 million or better, an average of $100,000 per month.
The breakdown of the alcohol tax shows:
- $35,000 in licenses and fees
- $640,000 from beer and wine taxes
- $300,000 from the 12 percent liquor wholesale tax
- $205,000 from direct alcohol sales
“I think you will also see that the general sales tax collection for the city, minus the alcohol sales, will be up by around $1.1 million. Is that from more people staying at home to shop and growth? That I can’t say, but the numbers are looking good for Cullman,” Day said.
But a few other points concerning legal sales have impressed Day, too. He recently accompanied state Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) officers in an undercover operation to check businesses concerning alcohol sales to underage residents.
A teenager was observed in 26 businesses attempting to purchase alcohol, but not one store or restaurant sold a drink to the young person.
“The ABC agents we worked with were from Decatur and Huntsville and they just couldn’t believe it. They said in Huntsville and some areas they would have at least 12 violations. I want to congratulate our licensees for being responsible and following the law and our ordinance,” Day said.
The city also has a rule in its alcohol ordinance that requires restaurants to maintain a sales percentage of 60 percent food and 40 percent alcohol. The ordinance is aimed at keeping the city free of stand-alone bars and, according to Day, has been successful.
“The businesses that sale alcohol go through training. We had a businesses recently that was having trouble with the 60-40 rule, but as of last month all of the restaurants were in compliance. Once anyone falls below the requirement they are given three months to get into compliance, and we check monthly,” Day said.
Day also said the city-sponsored “Rock the South” concert, which drew around 15,000 people to Cullman and included beer sales, resulted in only five arrests for public intoxication.
“It’s amazing how well things have gone. I know we have great community with or without alcohol sales and people have been respectful to the laws,” Day said.
Mayor Max Townson said he was informed of the ABC’s check of 26 businesses and was pleased with the result.
“That’s what we want, compliance. I’m really proud of our businesses for taking the law seriously. That’s real important for everyone in Cullman,” Townson said.
The mayor also said alcohol-related revenues have continued to be deposited into a separate fund. He said a portion of the money has been used to support local agencies that provide vital services for residents. Another portion was used to start the city’s facade program for businesses attempting to rebuild and improve in the downtown business district.
“I would hope that the money remains in a separate fund, because you never know if we’ll continue to collect this much as other communities consider legal sales. When we sit down and talk about the budget, that will be part of the discussion,” Townson said.
* David Palmer may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.