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Washington County liquor board wants license fee increase

January 25, 2002

Washington County liquor board wants license fee increase



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County liquor board members want to raise the price of some of its licenses to cover increased expenses.

But local lawmakers say they are not willing to pursue legislation this year because the request came in too late.

The liquor board, formally known as the Board of License Commissioners, made the request in a letter to the delegation. The letter wasn't dated, but Mellott said it was written within the last month.

The issue was first raised at the delegation's meeting on Wednesday.

"I have a real problem with that request," said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

Liquor board members didn't bring up the issue at a November meeting with lawmakers and Shank said the late request doesn't leave enough chance for public comment.

Contacted by phone later, Chairman Donald L. Mellott said the liquor board didn't submit the request earlier because the budget figures weren't available.

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"Actually, I think they're supposed to work 90 days," Mellott said.

Technically it's not too late to introduce a bill this session, which runs through April 8.

But lawmakers said the liquor board should have followed the delegation's policy to review upcoming legislative requests in the fall.

Projections show the liquor board's $162,000 budget will fall $223 short this fiscal year, which runs through March.

"We'll be crossing that bridge when we get to it," he said.

Under the request, the liquor board is asking for increases in the three types of pouring licenses and the license that allows Sunday sales.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Annual beer pouring licenses would increase from $100 to $250.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Annual beer and wine pouring licenses would go from $150 to $450.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Annual beer, wine and liquor pouring licenses would go from $500 to $700.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Establishments would have to pay $350 instead of $250 to sell alcohol on Sundays.

The fee increases would raise nearly $30,000.

Any money leftover in the budget is distributed among the county and local governments. In 2000, the liquor board distributed $21,315.

Washington County lawmakers have already agreed on most of the legislation they are seeking this year.

There are a couple of requests for legislation that haven't been brought to a vote in the delegation yet.

One concerns salary raises for Washington County Board of Education members.

School board members asked the delegation to consider some kind of pay increase, but lawmakers are waiting for a specific request.

Hagerstown Community College professors have asked for collective bargaining rights.

The college's Board of Trustees is opposed, but lawmakers are waiting for feedback from the Washington County Commissioners before making a final decision.

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