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Fort Smith Board passes ordinance to raise alcohol tax

The ordinance will double the alcohol tax that's been in place since 1969.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — The price you pay for alcohol at bars and restaurants will be going up because of a tax increase in Fort Smith.  

“It’s going to affect us in a negative way for sure,” bartender Trisha Crawford said. 

The Fort Smith Board of Directors passed an ordinance that will double the current alcohol tax that’s been in place since 1969.  

RELATED: Fort Smith Board raises alcohol tax, waste hauler fee to generate more city revenue

“Obviously if we could go back to normal hours, normal capacity that would help out but still this liquor tax bringing our prices up, making everything harder still,” Crawford said. 

The alcohol tax will go from 5% to 10% plus the city’s 9.75% percent sales tax. 

Crawford is a bartender at Papa’s Pub and Pizzeria on Garrison Avenue. She says raising prices for their customers isn’t something they want to do after such a trying year. 

“We’re definitely going to have to raise the prices if the liquor tax goes up, which isn’t fun for the customers but it’s something we just have to do to stay on top of everything," she said. "We don’t want to go under, we are a small, locally owned business."

The board of directors did decide to hold off on implementing the alcohol tax increase until December of 2021 to give people more time to assess if this is something we need and because of the ongoing pandemic. 

“We are very understanding of where they are at with what’s going on but the amount, we raised it at is also what other cities in the state of Arkansas, some of the larger cities have, so we are matching what they do,” Director Kevin Settle. 

Settle says the money from the alcohol tax will go to fund public safety.  

“We need to continue to receive some fund on our police and fire departments," he said said. "Obviously, with everything going on we need to make sure they are fully funded and so this was one of those ways we thought would be the best and have the least impact on everybody in the city."

The Fort Smith Board of Directors did put a clause in the ordinance that will allow them to revisit the alcohol tax increase issue in October of 2021 ahead of it being put into place in December of 2021. 

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