Cambridge may raise some liquor license fees

Cambridge may raise some liquor license feesCambridge may raise some liquor license fees

Boston.com reports on a proposed liquor fee hike in Cambridge that has some restaurants in the city upset.  The proposed changes would double the annual fees of Cambridge’s “no value” liquor licenses, which the city issued to stimulate restaurant development in areas of the city like Kendal Square.  These no value licenses cannot be bought and sold by their holders and cannot be transferred to another location in the city.  The city is also seeking to charge these license holders a $5000 user fee every three years.  Cambridge says the changes are on the table for discussion because the higher number of liquor licensed establishments is putting an increased strain on the city’s police, fire, and license commission departments.

The proposed fee hikes would affect the “no value” licenses issued after Feb. 28, 2008, to restaurants with 50 or more seats.  The fees vary depending on the type of license and how late the businesses stay open, but License Commission Executive Director Elizabeth Lint said a restaurant with 100 seats that is now paying an annual fee of $6,320 would see their liquor license fee increase to $12,640 if the fee hike is approved.

The restaurateurs who would be affected by the proposed increases are strongly opposed to any increases in the cost of doing business in Cambridge.

Steve Kurland, owner of Za and Evoo restaurants in Kendall Square, said the fee hikes would cost him over $28,000 in the next three years, which would be onerous for him.  He said that while he had the benefit of not having to purchase and expense liquor license, he doesn’t have the option of selling his “no value” license.  Kurland said restaurants are already bringing in revenue for the city through the .75 percent meals tax.  Cambridge approved the meals excise tax in 2009 and expects it to generate in $3.4 million in revenue in the current fiscal year, according to the city budget.

The Cambridge License Commission did not vote on the fee hike Monday, and Commission Chairman Michael Gardner said the matter will be subject to further discussion.

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