In an effort to relieve financial strain caused by COVID-19, the Onalaska Common Council approved a resolution Tuesday night to reduce the beer and liquor license fees.
Beer licenses were dropped to $10 and liquor licenses to $50 for those applied for on or before Aug. 1, 2020. Fees already paid over the amount will be refunded.
“I think this is important because the City of Onalaska is sending a bill to businesses that are currently shut down,” Mayor Kim Smith said. “It isn’t as much about the money as about good business and standing together with our small businesses in our community.”
The vote passed 3-2. Alderman Diane Wulf opposed the resolution, which is expected to cost the city $12,000.
“It is not a whole lot of money, but I feel like the city is bleeding money right now,” Smith said. “I have trouble supporting taxpayers to subsidize a private golf course. I don’t know how I can justify this to taxpayers.”
Alderman Dan Stevens argued it was not the role of the Onalaska Common Council to help write off part of a business expense. He added the change would apply to not only local businesses, but also national chains.
“We absolutely want to promote a healthy business environment, but I think that is having a fair and level playing field for businesses to compete,” Stevens said. “If I have to justify why my neighbor’s property tax bill had to go up to fund a golf course, I honestly would feel like an idiot.”
Stevens thought a more appropriate role for the Common Council would be to help businesses ‘fill their coffers’ once they were allowed to reopen.