2019.08.14.EMG.KMH.FathomsBar-4

Fathoms Bar is located on East 14th Ave in Eugene, Ore. (Kimberly Harris/Emerald)

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will be increasing its liquor licensing fees on October 1st for the first time in 70 years, according to a July 15 press release. The OLCC has experienced an average growth of 454 new licenses per year over the past 10 years, according to a presentation made to the Oregon legislative subcommittee, and the new costs will be more in line with the costs of license distribution. 

“With each new license or renewal, we incur additional costs in processing, inspection and enforcement,” OLCC spokesperson Matthew Van Sickle said. He said that with the increase, “Oregon’s fees are more in line with national averages, and we are more adequately able to account for the true costs of licensing.” 

Calen Willis, a general manager of campus bar Fathoms, said she doesn’t think the increased licensing costs will impact students. She said, “For most campus bars, the annual permit cost is a drop in the bucket based on the volume of sales they do,” she said. She does not see Fathoms raising their drink prices for students. 

The current cost for a full, on-premises sales license, which is the type of license that the typical  bar needs to be able to legally sell alcohol, is $400; Oregon is ranked 36th nationally for liquor license prices. The cost will double to $800 October 1, generating $9.2 million for 2019-21. Oregon will move to 24th in the nation for liquor license cost, but the national average price for this type of license is $1,435.

Van Sickle said in an email to the Emerald that the additional revenue will be for supporting OLCC operations and compliance activities. “Specifically, it will go to support upgrades in infrastructure and information technology, licensee education and minor decoy operations,” he said. 

In March, OLCC conducted 21 minor decoy operations in Eugene, according to OLCC public safety records. Five out of the 21 businesses visited sold alcohol to minors, making a 76 percent compliance rate for that set of minor decoy operations. None of the businesses were part of the UO campus. 

Van Sickle said they release these numbers for public accountability and transparency from the OLCC. He said, “Serving to minors is an unlawful activity, and failing a minor decoy check comes with consequences for the business,” He said. “The law is clear on this — but failing a minor decoy check does provide a wakeup call for the business to change or face further consequences.”