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Ringgold finalizes new occupational tax, alcohol ordinances

May 30, 2017 GMT

The city of Ringgold recently finalized amendments to both its occupational business tax and alcohol ordinances, which will garner more city revenue from business owners, as well as allow for the city’s first microbrewery.

In December, the council began the process of evaluating the city’s occupational tax ordinance with an emphasis on creating a way of recouping more revenue to cover evolving operating costs of the city. The proposal of switching from a flat-rate system to one based on gross receipts stalled when a number of business owners expressed concerns over the drastic numbers some businesses would have incurred, as well as the added accounting that would have been required.

Instead of passing something new in order to get it on the books for 2017, the council opted to create a committee to brainstorm a fair solution to the problem.

Mayor Millwood created an occupational tax committee comprised of business owners and chaired by councilman Larry Black to brainstorm a new system that would not only benefit the city, but also offer an alternative to the gross receipts concept.

The first reading of the revamped ordinance, which will base the tax on a business’ number of employees, had its final reading Monday night, May 22.

“The new ordinance will take effect Jan. 1, 2018, and will not impact any occupational tax until next year,” Black said.

Each year, business owners will have to pay a flat $100 administration fee that’ll be standard for each business, and then an additional fee based on the number of employees the business has.

That fee scale breaks down as $20 for 1-25 employees, $18 for 26-50 employees, $16 for 51-100 employees, $14 for 101-200, $13 for 201-500, and then $12 for more than 500 employees.

The scale applies to each employee, meaning a small coffee shop that has five employees would have to pay the $100 flat fee, and then an additional $100 for its five total employees. On the flipside, a large business with 500 employees would have to the $100 admin fee and an additional $6,000 for it 500-person force.

There will also no longer be an exemption for manufacturing businesses in the city. Those businesses will fall under the same scale outlined in the new ordinance.

After the adopting the ordinance, Black recognized the feedback he received from business owners during the drafting of the new process.

“After hearing the input and concern of how complicated our business owners felt like a gross receipts scale would be, we decided to come up with something better as a more simplified way for business owners to look and determine what their occupational tax is each year. I feel like we’ve done that.”

Alcohol ordinance adjusted

The finalization of the ordinance comes on the heels of the city also adjusting its alcohol ordinance to accommodate the city’s first microbrewery, which is slated to be the main feature of the new Wrath Brewing Company restaurant moving into the Remco Business Center off Boynton Drive.

Last month, the business owners requested that the city allow their new eatery to brew their own in-house craft beers to pair with their menu.

The council obliged and held the final reading of the adjusted ordinance on May 8, which now includes the allowance of microbreweries and brewpubs.

Microbreweries are categorized as establishments that produce less than 5,000 barrels of malt beverage annually, while brewpubs are those that also manufacture or brew beer on site, but do so to higher barrel limitations.

Like the regular beer and wine licensing fees, both brewpubs and microbrewery fees will be set at $500 each. For example, a restaurant that serves regular non-crafted beer, wine, and has a microbrewery would be charged $1,500 in annual licensing.

In addition to allowing the microbrewery, the ordinance now also adds Patriot Hall to the list of city buildings where alcohol can be served as long as a “preferred caterer” from the city’s list is hired to serve the beverages. Changes also include the extension of serving hours to 2 a.m. the following day unless the following day is a Monday for certain instances like New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, and Cinco de Mayo.

Updated versions of both ordinances can be found on the city’s website at cityofringgoldga.gov.