Cambridge suspends liquor license fees

Based on a suggestion emailed to Cambridge Mayor Jim Godfrey, the Cambridge City Council has unanimously approved the temporary suspension of the fees associated with applying for a liquor license for six restaurants who currently have a liquor license. Those businesses are Applebee’s, Cambridge Bar and Grill, Chapala, Leader, Pizza Pub, and Sidelines.

“One of our citizens, and it wasn’t anybody who had anything to do with any of these businesses, it was just some citizen who said ‘hey, I saw’ I think it was Buffalo, New York, ‘had waived the fees because their restaurants had been shut down for so long,’” Godfrey said. “And it’s like, you know, that’s not a bad idea.”

According to City Administrator Lynda Woulfe, each license is $2,700, which would result in a budget deficit to the city of $16,200. This deficit would go on 2020’s budget since the licenses are renewed in November of each year, so the associated fees are part of the city’s presumptive revenue for that year. To make up that difference, Woulfe proposed the city transfers an additional $16,200 from Northbound Liquor’s profits to the general fund.

“If you look at the report we got, the liquor store profits are much higher than they have been in the past,” Godfrey said. “I’m going to assume that is partially because those liquor sales aren’t taking place in our small businesses. So I think it’s only fair that we help them stay open. If we waive that $2,600 fee, that might get them another month or two.”

Following the unanimous vote, Godfrey complimented the unnamed resident for making the suggestion.

“This is where transparency in government really pays off at times,” he said. “They just used my email address that is on the city’s website and gave me this idea. I really encourage the citizens to get engaged in local government if there’s something they think could be happening now. Let us know. Great ideas are out there and we can’t act on them if we never hear about them.”

Odds and ends

In other council action, the council:

Approved a contract with Summit Fire Protection for the installation and monitoring of a cellular dialer for the existing fire alarm system at the new library. According to Woulfe, a glitch with the current system has caused nearly 100 trouble alarms with the Fire Alarm Panel. She said this solution should stop those alarms.

Approved a loan to Herman’s Bakery in the amount of $4365.25 from the downtown business grant and loan fund for the purchase of a used delivery van to replace one that just broke down. Currently, a majority of their revenue comes from deliveries since there is no inside seating allowed due to COVID. At first, Herman’s asked for a grant, however the council felt it didn’t fit the parameters of their grant program, but they could make it fit for a low-interest loan.

Heard an update on the outdoor hockey rinks. According to Woulfe, they are currently open to the public, however because of the governor’s orders putting a pause on all organized sports, the city can’t accept reservations for exclusive use of one of the two rinks.

Additionally, based on residents’ feedback, the city will be implementing different reservation fees depending on if the person or organization is based in Cambridge. Beginning in 2021, residents who wish to reserve one of the rinks will be charged $40 per hour, while non-residents will be charged $100 per hour.

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