From The Decatur Daily
by Cody Muzio
PRICEVILLE — Priceville collected $2,469.28 in alcohol tax revenue for May, its first full month of sales.
The ordinance allowing for alcohol sales in the town passed in February and the first sales took place in May. Since the town became wet, it has issued nine alcohol licenses. License holders sell only beer and wine. They include three wholesale licenses, one special event license, one restaurant license and one off-premise consumption license.
Priceville Mayor Melvin Duran said the money is going into the town’s capital outlay fund, which is used for special projects.
“It really hasn’t been very long,” Duran said. “I don’t think this is a true indicator of what revenues will be.”
Duran said council members couldn’t estimate what the impact of alcohol sales would be, so the increased revenue was not included in the 2012-13 fiscal year budget.
Priceville license holders said the ability to sell alcohol has improved business.
“We didn’t know how people would take it, but we’ve had no problems so far,” JW Steakhouse restaurant manager Abby Vest said. “It’s brought in a different crowd, and we have more people coming out to have beer or wine with dinner. And none of our regulars have had any complaints.”
The steakhouse installed a bar in one of its dining rooms after receiving its license. Vest said the bar and daily drink specials have also boosted sales, and she expects the upward trend to continue as more people learn what the restaurant offers.
Tucker’s Grocery owner Chris Tucker said his store’s location near the Priceville-Somerville line has contributed to an influx of new business.
“People from the surrounding areas in the county that would never stop here because they’re on their way to get beer in Decatur are stopping here now and often getting other things, too,” he said.
Tucker said he’s taken full advantage of his license and has about 50 varieties of beer and malt beverages in stock.
Foodland owner Josh Gray said he was a little surprised at how effective alcohol sales have been. He said alcohol sales made it the most successful Fourth of July in the store’s history.
“We were thinking it was just going to be a convenience thing and people would just pick up some beer or wine while they were here getting groceries,” he said. “But we do have a lot of people who come in just to buy beer.
“We even have a lot of customers drive in from Decatur and even Moulton and Somerville and buy beer from us because they say they like the store and our people.”
Gray said Priceville’s sales tax — 8 percent, as opposed to Decatur’s 9 — also contributes to outside traffic.
Just across the city border, Chevron manager Tara Farrer is less excited. Her store is in Decatur, but only feet from the Priceville line.
“I’ve been at this store for nine years, and I can tell a big difference in our sales,” she said. “We had a lot of people drive in from Priceville and Somerville who don’t come here to get beer anymore.”
Farrer said the convenience store lowered its prices on alcohol, but the difference is still noticeable.
“I hope it comes up for a vote again and they go back to being dry,” she said.
Decatur’s District 5 City Councilman Chuck Ard said cases like Farrer’s are inevitable, but he doesn’t think the city as a whole will feel an impact. Ard is the liaison to the Finance Department.
“I think that Priceville will do their thing, and I think we’ll do our thing,” he said. “But I don’t see it as a significant loss of revenue for the city.”
Decatur finance supervisor Linda McKinney said the city’s beer revenue for May of 2013 was $94,398, only $1,280 less than in 2012. McKinney said the difference could be attributed to many factors, not just Priceville sales.