Blount County receiving share of beer tax revenue

Whatever the outcome of yesterday’s wet-dry referendum, Blount County is one of five north Alabama counties that are receiving some of the revenue generated by a statewide beer tax that had in the past been distributed only to wet counties. The other four are Cullman, DeKalb, Lauderdale, and Marshall.

Last month the ABC Board paid each county the first of 12 monthly installments of back taxes dating from 2004. In the future these counties will receive the same shares of beer tax revenue as wet counties.

The payments aren’t paid by the state but come from reducing the shares paid to Alabama’s 41 wet counties.

This comes about through a lawsuit filed on behalf of public officials from Blount, Cullman, and DeKalb counties.

In 2005 state representatives Elwyn Thomas, ROneonta, for Blount County; Todd Greeson, RIder, for DeKalb County; and Jeremy Oden, RVinemont, for Cullman County, sued the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in Montgomery County Circuit Court to recover the beer tax revenue. They contended that under a legislative act and a ruling of the state attorney general, counties containing Community Development Districts were entitled to share in the beer tax.

Under an Alabama law enacted in 2004, a private residential development that contains at least 100 home sites on at least 250 acres of land and a social club and golf course and that meets certain other legal criteria may hold an election to become a CDD, and the CDD may legally sell alcoholic beverages to its members for on-site consumption even though the development is located in a dry county.

Oneonta’s Limestone Springs and Heritage Green qualify as CDDs and make this county eligible to receive beer tax revenues.

The tax amounts to one-half cent on every 12-ounce can of beer sold in Alabama. The revenue generated is collected by the ABC Board and distributed equally among the wet counties and the dry counties where CDDs are located.

It’s expected to bring $150,000 or more each year to the counties.

Said attorney Stan Glasscox, representing Blount County, “The courts recognized and the ABC Board eventually conceded that the Legislature intended that dry counties where Community Development Districts are located should receive shares of taxes from the sale of alcoholic beverages in Alabama, the same as wet counties.”