There he goes again. Greg Helding is initiating another plan to discourage business start ups. Previous efforts have targeted convenience stores, landlords, and short term loan businesses. This one targets restaurants and taverns seeking a Class B liquor license. The JT has the story here.
According to the JT article, some time ago the state passed a law limiting the number of liquor licenses that could be issued in a given community. The law also allowed cities to exceed the limit by selling reserve licenses for $10,000. In 1998 under former Mayor Jim Smith the city started to issue rebates of $9,500 to help businesses that were restricted by state law. Greg Helding wants to end the rebates.
"To me, it doesn't make sense to (offer the rebate), because the whole point was to limit the number of licenses available and make the existing licenses a little bit more valuable" Greg Helding said. Helding added that the license quota exists to limit liquor licenses and reduce its negative impact on a community. Also it would be an additional revenue source for the city.
Heldings measure appears to meet with the approval of the liquor union, ie tavern owners, who enthusiastically support efforts to limit competition for themselves. Multiple tavern owner Joey LeGath doubtfully would support measures limiting his number of taverns, but he doesn't mind sticking would-be competitors with a $10,000 disadvantage. And if he or others in the tavern union are concerned about the "negative impact" that their businesses have on the community, there is nothing preventing them from closing their bars.
Just the other day I complemented Greg Helding for being a stand-up guy who often takes the time to articulate his positions on the various Racine blogs. So I hope he answers the following questions. Why should the government be in the business of making "existing licenses a little bit more valuable?" Is the additional value derived exclusively via a state induced reduction in competition? If so, why should government reward current license holders while punishing prospective license holders? Does the $10,000 in any way have a mitigating effect on the "negative effect" of Class B license establishments? And finally, do you really think that restaurants negatively impact our community?
And for readers, this issue is up for discussion on December 7th, 5 pm, City Hall, Room 205 if you want to add your two cents.