Beer and wine committee report
After eight months of meetings, interviews, surveys, research, and discussion, The Tisbury Beer and Wine Review Committee presented their findings to the selectmen in a 19-page Report of Findings dated September 26, 2006.
The committee voted 6-0 in favor of the report, with one abstention by Nancy Hall.
Following is the executive summary and conclusion:
Executive Summary and Conclusion
The committee concludes that there would be little or no impact on the town, its taxpayers or the overall business community if beer and wine were introduced in restaurants. If the Selectmen are interested in pursuing the question of beer and wine in restaurants and inns the committee recommends the option to petition under the Home Rule Amendment.
The Selectmen appointed the Beer and Wine Review Committee to study the impact, on the town of Tisbury, if beer and wine were to be introduced in restaurants. The committee has only assessed the impact of introducing beer and wine, purposely not considering voter, business owner, taxpayer or public opinion on the issue of whether beer and wine should be introduced.
To understand this issue we identified four areas to be researched and evaluated.
1. The financial impact on the town and its taxpayers
2. The impact on the business community.
3. The experience of other towns that have recently gone "wet", and the reasons some have remained dry?
4. The character of the town.
The detailed analysis is contained in subsequent sections and addenda of this report.
The committee found that there would be no significant economic benefit or detriment to the town. There was little testimony from town department heads that indicated any projected increase in budgets for town services. There would be a slight shift in tax burden to the restaurant community. However such shift would be minimal and the resulting benefit to the broad residential tax base would be insignificant, almost immeasurable.
Overall the business community did not think this prospective change would have any negative impact for them. However, forecasted benefits were projected primarily by hospitality trades. Specifically by restaurateurs where hours, season, and staff may increase. Other market segments, and the much broader business population, did not envision a significant change.
Other towns that have recently gone wet have not seen an increase in the cost of town services, shift in tax burden or change in the character of their towns. One of the recently converted wet towns is Rockport, MA, with a seasonal economy like Tisbury. Rockport has almost one full year and one summer season completed. This summer they have found no negative impact and a slight positive impact with increased tourism. Towns that remain dry typically have little or no commerce in the hospitality market segment and therefore have no reason to contemplate such a change. Of the seven dry towns we studied, Tisbury remains the only dry town that has such a substantial business community.
In the course of interviewing town department heads there was a recurring question: will the character of the town change? It is a very subjective and opinion based topic. Our taxpayer survey did little to gain deeper insight or further define "character." We came to no conclusion.
Massachusetts General Laws govern the control and sale of all alcoholic beverages within the state. The Massachusetts Liquor Control Act places a quota or limits on the number of on-premise licenses a city or town can issue. The Town has the ability to issue a maximum of five (5) on-premise licenses for Wine and Malt. Additionally, the Town has the ability to issue an unlimited number of seasonal licenses. The "season" is defined April 1st to January 15 or any portion thereof.
The Town has the ability to further define which restaurants may sell alcohol under the Massachusetts
Constitution. Article 89, amends the constitution to allow towns to petition the state legislature to enact laws specific to each town. This is known as a Home Rule Petition (HRP). The HRP allows the Town to define the parameters by which beer and wine may be sold. Most recently the HRP was approved in Rockport to allow the sale of alcohol in restaurants to seated patrons, having dinner that is served on china. The HRP can be as restrictive or broad as the town determines.
The committee concludes that there would be little to no impact to the town.
Thank you for providing us with the opportunity to serve the town.
Jilana Abrams, James Morse, John Coskie, Thomas Rabbitt, Nancy Hall, Bud Raymond, John Jones, Gretchen Snyder