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Rogers City Council Passes 4 Percent Liquor Tax

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The Rogers City Council unanimously approved a 4 percent sales tax on hard liquor Tuesday night to make up for the money lost from a lack of private club permits.

The measure comes two months after the council relaxed alcohol ordinances to allow on-premise alcohol sales and consumption, opening the door for bars and restaurants in the area to serve alcohol without a private club permit.

The new tax begins immediately, and it only applies to hard liquor. Beer and wine are exempt, according to the city. Officials said they hope the revenue from the tax makes up for the $500,000 lost because restaurants no longer need to purchase a private club permit to sell alcohol.

The newly-passed ordinance also allows owners to buy alcohol from wholesale distributors, whereas before, they had to pay retail price.

Benton County voters approved a measure last November allowing the sale of retail alcohol without a private club permit from state officials. Because of cities’ own ordinances, packaged alcohol could be sold on the premises of an establishment, but had to be consumed off-premises. For alcohol to be sold openly and consumed on an establishment’s property, restaurants had to purchase a private club permit.

Rogers’ ordinance passed in August nixed the need for a private club permit, whose fees the city received a portion of. The Bentonville City Council passed a similar measure Oct. 8, allowing on-site alcohol consumption.

The new measures relaxing alcohol ordinances in Rogers may have the most impact on the Arkansas Music Pavilion. The Walton Arts Center board voted in May to move the AMP from its current location in Fayetteville to a new $11 million facility in Rogers. Some patrons were initially concerned the new location may not serve alcohol.