| Dennis Hackett
SOUTHWICK – During its brief meeting on Oct. 6, the Southwick Select Board discussed reducing licensing fees for local businesses and once again continued the 2021 fiscal year tax classification hearing.
After opening the tax classification public hearing to determine property tax rates for the 2021 fiscal year at its last meeting, the board continued the hearing again to its Oct. 13 meeting when they will be officially addressing the issue. The hearing has been on hold as the town continues to wait for more information from the state.
During the meeting, Select Board Clerk Russ Fox suggested that the board investigate reducing liquor license fees for local businesses for the next year.
“As we know the pandemic has put a lot of pressure on businesses and there’s very little that we can do as a town, but I’d like to see if the board would consider reducing the cost for our liquor licenses for the coming year,” he said.
Fox acknowledged that while this would help businesses in Southwick, they still would have a long road ahead of them.
“There’s some liquor establishments that paid for a year and were only open for half of that. I’m not saying that it’s going to solve all of their problems, but it might be a good gesture to reward them in some sort of manner or reduction,” he said.
Board Vice Chair Joe Deedy agreed with Fox and suggested that he look at the Board of Health because of its reach over all businesses in town.
“You should look at the Board of Health if you look at anything as a business owner, the Board of Health is one thing that touches every restaurant and liquor establishment,” he said.
He added that now was the perfect time to pursue reducing the licensing fees.
“Our permits are coming up, our fees are coming up, and if you had a great season in the restaurant industry over the summer because of some seating capability, it’s over. Now we’re going to see the money stop coming in but the bills still coming in. This is a great time if we can do something,” he said.
Select Board Chair Doug Moglin said that he was in favor of potentially reducing the fees to help all businesses.
“I think it’s a great idea. There’s a lot of places in town, especially restaurants, that just got hammered by this, a lot of businesses have, but that’s one area we can look at. Maybe we just take the Board of Health fees and licensing fees next week and take a look at it and see if there is something we can do,” he said.
The board unanimously agreed to allow Fox to pursue reducing the town’s licensing fees with a deadline for the end of October with licensing fees due in November for local businesses.