WASHINGTON Ill. (WMBD) — The city of Washington is helping its bars and restaurants start regaining thousands of dollars lost by eliminating this year’s liquor license renewal fees.
Mayor Gary Manier said the motion, at the request of multiple local businesses last year, is a step towards reviving business after months of financially challenging COVID-19 restrictions.
“Hopefully it will give them some extra funds,” Manier said. “We want to make sure that nobody goes dark and goes out of business.”
Compared to the Peoria ordinance that cuts liquor and gaming license renewal fees in half, Washington’s eliminates liquor license fees entirely; however, there is no reduced fee for gaming licenses at this time.
“Because our revenues are strong and sales tax is up, we decided to give back to the restaurants and bars,” Manier said.
As renewal dates near, bar and restaurant owners are looking forward to saving a little money this year. Cyndy Jefford, manager of the Walker-Danforth VFW Post 9016, one of the 18 businesses eligible for savings, explained how important help from the city is during this time.
“We need to give back to these smaller places in our town,” Jefford said. “It will build back up and hopefully we’ll be back to where we were before COVID.”
Over the last year, Jefford said the VFW event hall and cantina has lost between ten and twelve thousand dollars in revenue. She believes saving money on license renewal is a step towards rebuilding funds that go towards the community and charitable events like Cops for Kids and Honor Flight.
“That’s a significant amount of money that we will be able to not have to put out, but keep in our club and be able to give to our community,” Jefford said.
Mayor Manier said these savings only apply to bars and restaurants, explaining businesses with package liquor licenses were hurt less by COVID-19 restrictions.
“Package liquors actually did okay during the pandemic, ” Manier said, “the stores and gas stations.”
He said after seeing businesses not being able to fully utilize licenses last year and into the beginning of 2021, he wanted to give them the help they need to get through the slow winter season to come.
“I just think it makes sense to give them a year…to get back on their feet, and hopefully this will help,” Manier said.