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Liquor revenues vary widely city to city

By Staff
Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
For one North Alabama city, the money coming in from alcohol sales has been flowing in, well, like wine.
Dekalb County’s Ft. Payne, population 12,938, voted to legalize alcohol sales in 2005. The city has an $18.7 million annual budget and a surplus of some $450,000. It’s the only wet city in an otherwise dry county of some 65,000 residents.
Cities receive money from alcohol sales through licensing fees and alcohol tax revenues. Last year, Ft. Payne saw some $430,000 in revenue from alcohol sales. The city collected some $8 million from its 3 percent sales tax in 2007.
Ft. Payne divides the revenue generated from alcohol sales between the city and its school system, with education receiving 75 percent and the city 25 percent. The school system has received $300,000 since alcohol sales were legalized three years ago. The city’s portion of the money is pledged towards promotion of tourism and economic development.
Ft. Payne is just one of the Alabama cities that sell alcohol and seek to balance those challenges - quality of life and moral concern - with the often crucial revenue it generates. Like the cities themselves, all of which are about the same size as Hartselle, the revenue generated by alcohol sales varies widely. Hartselle, home to some 13,000 people, has an annual budget of $9.7 million and sales tax projections for this show some $4.9 million.
Among the key factors in how much money alcohol generates is seen in if a city is located in a wet county and the location of the municipality itself.
In Talladega County’s city of Sylacauga, population 12,616, revenue from alcohol sales generates $89,378 per year. The city is located in a wet county, so it also receives a portion of the sales from Alabama’s ABC stores under a complicated formula that divides the statewide alcohol revenue among counties with legalizes sales. Dry counties, such as Morgan County, don’t get that revenue, but receive a portion of payments generated each year by TVA.
Sylacauga’s annual budget is $14 million. The city has been wet for more than 30 years and is located along the heavily populated Highway 280 corridor.
Tuskegee, located in Macon County, has a population of 11,800, is the county seat, and has an annual budget of $7 million. It’s projecting alcohol revenue this year of some $124,800, which includes $24,000, its portion of the state’s ABC revenues. The city’s projected sales tax revenue this year is $1.3 million.
In Gardendale, located in Jefferson County and home to 11,626 people, alcohol sales generate about $93,745 annually. The city is located in a wet county with all wet cities. It has a total annual budget of $13 million and alcohol sales have been legal in the city since the early 1980s.
In 2007, the city has sales tax revenue of $8.2 million.

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