St. Louis County Board agrees to refund liquor licenses

Hit hard by COVID-19 prevention efforts, bars and restaurants in St. Louis County are expected to receive levels of support beyond what is available in state and federal relief efforts.

The St. Louis County Board agreed to reimburse liquor royalties at its meeting on Tuesday in Duluth.

The board agreed to allow the one-time refund that will reduce the county’s 2020 revenue by $ 95,741 – a tiny fraction of its $ 420 million budget.

“Our facilities and our small businesses are badly affected – they hurt,” said Chisholm’s Mike Jugovich, Chairman of the Board. “It won’t solve all problems, but it shows that we are looking at this and doing everything we can to help them.”

The board’s Liquor Licensing Committee recommended the refund. License costs vary, but run liquor operations between $ 1,100 and $ 2,500 per year.

Commissioner Ashley Grimm, who represented West Duluth, described this as a significant relief.

“I want us to … talk about other ways we can support local businesses,” she said, adding that she would visit the West Duluth Business Club to see what else the county could do.

The Liquor Licensing Committee was particularly concerned about the impact of shop closings during Governor Tim Walz’s order to close bars and restaurants during the holidays to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Ordering was made easier on Monday with the return to indoor seating with half occupancy.

“Many counties and cities were concerned about the impact and were talking about how they can help these companies,” said deputy county administrator Brian Fritsinger to the board.

Fritsinger said there weren’t many things the board could do, but that license refunds would provide “some support and relief”.

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