Behind the Bar

John Sabbe, bartender at Tipsy McSway’s in downtown Brunswick, pours ingredients into a shaker to make a classic daiquiri.

A cocktail in Brunswick may soon cost a little bit more, if a plan circulating around city hall comes to fruition.

City commissioners are considering a 3 percent excise tax on the sale of poured liquor drinks in establishments inside the city limits, said Brian Corry, city attorney.

Glynn County already assesses such a tax, commonly referred to as a “pour tax,” but Brunswick has never followed suit, Corry said.

“I do not recall ever getting this far (with an ordinance change),” Corry said Wednesday. “Not for the practical nature of implementation, at least.”

Corry began drafting the ordinance after Commissioner Vincent Williams, North Ward, learned about the excise tax at a Georgia Municipal Association conference on finding new city revenues.

“We were looking at how to fund projects,” Williams said Wednesday. “That was one of them. I inquired through our city attorney if we’d been doing that, and evidently, we hadn’t.”

Williams said he was looking to find new sources of city revenues, other than raising property taxes.

“There’s a lot of projects out there we could get done if we had additional revenue streams,” he said. “Without going up on property taxes, this is one of the things we can look at.”

It’s unclear exactly how much money a 3 percent pour tax could generate for Brunswick. Kathy Mills, city finance director, said Wednesday there were 17 establishments licensed to pour liquor drinks for on-premise consumption in Brunswick.

One of those is Tipsy McSway’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill on Newcastle Street downtown. Owner Susan Bates said Wednesday she’s concerned an additional tax to keep up with will only further burden her business.

“I don’t think people have an idea the number of taxes businesses are responsible for,” she said. “Between payroll, state, federal, unemployment — it’s not the glamorous side of business and it takes a lot of time.

“When someone says they want to add another tax, my knee-jerk reaction is to say, ‘No!’. There’s just so much everybody wants (in taxes). Three percent might be my (profit) margin one month.”

She also has concerns about how a new excise tax would be collected. The draft city ordinance proposes the tax be collected monthly, and Bates wondered if she would be able to pay it online, or would be more burdensome.

“With all the things I have to do personally, and all the tax forms I have to do, to add another to that seems unnecessary,” she said. “Is it worth 3 percent? Is the city prepared for this?”

Williams said he thinks businesses and customers will grow accustomed to the new tax, and after a while it will become the norm.

“If (a cocktail) is $3, then this would make it $3.09,” he said. “Do you think patrons are going to argue about a nine-cent difference? They may at first, but they’ll eventually get used to it. They pay it in the county already.”

More from this section

More than nine months after the last hearing in the case, and nearly nine months to the day of the briefing deadline for that hearing, U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood handed a victory to the state of Georgia and nine other states that sued the federal government over the Obama administr…