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Onalaska votes to lower liquor and beer license fees

Kaitlyn Riley

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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.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in both radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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