Could A City-Run Liquor Store Be In Bethel’s Future? City Council Considers Ballot Proposition

Jan 9, 2018

Credit Christine Trudeau / KYUK

At Tuesday's meeting, Bethel City Council will consider putting two alcohol propositions on the ballot for October’s municipal election.

One would ask voters whether Bethel should revisit its earlier decision under the local option alcohol law and prohibit all alcohol sales, except from a city-run liquor store. If the answer is yes, voters will be asked whether the city should stop applying a Class C felony charge to people charged with giving alcohol to people who are under age 21.

Council member Mitchell Forbes is sponsoring the ordinance, which comes just as Bethel’s two liquor stores are applying to maintain their alcohol licenses. The Council has until the end of the month to approve or protest Bethel Spirits’ application, and until mid-February to decide on AC Quickstop’s.

The Council has already asked the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board not to award any more liquor licenses to Alaska Commercial Company. The Council has yet to release an opinion on Bethel Spirits, but the City Manager has written that he has no objections. The store, owned by Bethel Native Corporation, is applying to operate only one month of the year.

More alcohol-related matters fill the meeting agenda: the Association of Village Council Presidents will present two resolutions to the Council. One asks the Council to create a task force to assess alcohol impacts on the surrounding area. The other asks the Council to protest all alcohol applications, while using the tax revenue from alcohol sales to support organizations impacted by alcohol, like law enforcement and search and rescue.

Another revenue item before the Council considers liberalizing sales tax requirements on isolated sales like Saturday Markets and yard sales. The Council will also vote on raising fees related to alcohol permit applications. 

Listen to a live broadcast of the meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on KYUK.