Proposed liquor license fee increase could affect the price you pay for alcohol

It could soon cost businesses more to sell alcohol on Oahu.

That’s because the fee to hold a liquor license may be going up, in some cases double what it is now.

For general restaurant and retail licenses, the fee goes up more than $800.

§3-81-17.51. License Fees. Restores ending fund balance amount to 20 percent level permitted by HRS §281-17.5(e); increases basic license fees for FY18 and FY19; establishes basic and additional license fees for certain class categories that were previously omitted; and increases fees for solicitors’ and representatives’ permits to $210 (General), $130 (Beer and Wine), and $9 (Alcohol).

Click here to view the full breakdown.

This is the first time in 12 years that the Honolulu Liquor Commission is proposing a fee increase.

Often in business, when companies have to pay more, so do you. So will we see higher prices?

Hawaii Restaurant Association member Michael Miller says mom-and-pop businesses and customers could feel the pinch as all these fees add up.

“How will that impact consumers? Will our drinks go up?” KHON2 asked.

“It depends,” Miller replied. “Each business will make their own determination, but as overall fees, minimum wage, possible increase in mandatory sick leave might be a law that the legislature is going to pass, all these laws, all these fees add up and eventually you have to pass on the cost to consumer, and at some point, it’s just not viable for the consumer to eat or drink anymore.”

We reached out to the city and asked where the extra money from the proposed fee hikes will go. A spokesman says the fee increase will fund construction of a new database system and help the commission meet increased operating costs.

Miller says this license fee is paid annually, and it’s not the only fee that restaurants and retailers have to pay to do business in Hawaii.

The liquor commission’s proposal only shows a spike in fees next year, but those numbers go back down in 2019.

The commission will hold a public hearing in the hearings room of the Liquor Commission, Pacific Park Plaza Building, 711 Kapiolani Boulevard, Suite 600, on Thursday, Aug. 31, at 4 p.m., to consider the adoption of amended rules.

If you’d like to testify at this hearing, you can register prior to the hearing at the hearing site and are encouraged to submit one copy of their testimony by hand delivery, fax, mail, or email.

Written testimony that is received by 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 30, at the below address by hand delivery, fax, mail, or email will be included with the record of the hearing.

Liquor Commission
Pacific Park Plaza Building
711 Kapiolani Boulevard, Suite 600
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
(808) 768-7311 (fax)
liquor@honolulu.gov (email)

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