Carrying charges | Arkansas Blog

Friday, January 9, 2009

Carrying charges

Posted By on Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Steve Lucchi, the barbecue man turned wine wholesaler, is raising sand about the slate of permit fee increases proposed by Michael Langley, director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control agency. We've been down this path  before. Langley says the suggestions are starting points for dicussion. He says fees have been untouched for decades. Lucchi is particularly incensed by a wholesalers' fee increase that will be meaningless on a per-bottle basis to the major wholesalers who control most of the business in Arkansas's quaint three-tiered regulatory system. But he says it will be ruinous to small operators like him. In any case, all the fees will be passed on to drinkers.

Lucchi makes this point today after studying ABC budget documents. The agency is proposing a budget increase of only about $100,000 a year in each of the next two years. But it is proposing some $1.8 million in fee increases, equal to the agency's current entire budget.

"Is this essentially not a tax on the citizens of Arkansas?" Lucchi asks.

Simple-answer-to-simple-question department: Yes.

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