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After Pine Cove request, Wadena County halves liquor license fee

The Wadena County Board cut the cost of a liquor license in half after Joyce and Ken Price of Pine Cove Inn requested a reduction.

The Prices said the $1,600 fee made it difficult to compete with the nearby Whitetail Run Golf Course bar, which is owned by the city of Wadena and doesn't pay for a city liquor license.

Commissioner Bill Stearns asked the Prices what they thought the cost should be.

"With the economy the way it is and with the situation we're in right now, I mean say we get to the stage where we just forget the liquor license -- you wouldn't get anything from us," Joyce Price said. "That's just a consideration. We want to keep going the way it is."

The Pine Cove is at a point right now where it might raise prices, even though it doesn't want to, Joyce said. A reduction would help prevent them from taking that step.

Restaurants and bars don't make as much off of liquor as they once did because of the way alcohol-related laws are now, she said.

Society's efforts to curb drinking have obviously been successful, Stearns said. It makes sense that those who obtain liquor licences will want to pay less for them.

The board discussed making an exception for the Prices, but decided to lower the fee for all four establishments the county issues liquor licenses to each year.

"Even with our situation the way it is?" Joyce asked.

None of the other businesses have an establishment that doesn't have to pay for a liquor license located right next to them, she said.

Commissioner Lane Waldahl said the county should do it for everyone and see how it goes. Liquor consumption is down all over because of anti-drinking laws, he said.

"I think this is a good step," Waldahl said. "It's cutting it in half."

The fee reduction will remain in place for a year and the board will review it next spring.

Commissioner Ralph Miller said it was a "conflict of interest" for Wadena to put a bar next to an established business to make money for the city when it does not have to pay itself for a liquor license.

The city of Wadena charges $2,500 for a liquor license to private establishments within the city limits.