DANVERS — The bill to renew liquor licenses for 2021 is due at the end of the month, but some businesses won't have to pay.
During a meeting on Tuesday night, the Select Board voted 3-2 on a motion to waive liquor license fees for 37 restaurants, inn holders, and social clubs located in town. Thirty of those businesses are locally-owned small businesses.
Board Members Gardner Trask, William Clark and David Mills voted in favor of the motion, and Chairman Daniel Bennett and Board Member Maureen Bernard voted against it.
"This is the least we can do to help these businesses out," said Clark, adding that he doesn't want to see downtown Danvers lose any of its "beautiful restaurants."
The motion was put forward by Trask, and it originally called for the 37 liquor license fees to be reduced by 50%. Trask noted, however, that he would be "ecstatic" if the board chose to waive the fees entirely.
Trask pointed out that numerous cities, including Salem and Beverly, have waived liquor license fees for 2021 as a way of helping businesses which have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clark pointed out that Danvers would be putting its restaurants at a competitive disadvantage if they did not provide some liquor license relief when other North Shore communities did so.
"This is serious business right now," he said.
Bernard, one of the two dissenting votes, said she felt sympathy for businesses struggling during the coronavirus crisis, but reducing liquor license fees too much could potentially have a negative impact on the town's budget.
"I like a reduction, but maybe not 50%," she said, adding that she would also support a sort of payment plan where businesses could pay the fees over the course of a few months.
Bennett responded by saying because the bill is due so soon, the board had to act tonight.
Staff writer Erin Nolan can be reached at 978-338-2534, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @erin_nolan_.