Idea to add new, increase current tax on beer discussed at E.C. County committee meeting

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- At Dooley's Pub on Water Street there is a lot of beer, sports and conversations happening on a Thursday night.

Across town - Eau Claire County's Committee on Finance and Budget was having their meeting, talking about an idea that, if one day signed into a state law, would have a direct impact on anybody who orders a beer at a bar like Dooley's.

The resolution calls for adding a $1 tax on beer you order at the bar.

Along with that, it calls for increasing the state beer tax that bars and restaurants pay on wholesale beer purchases.

In all, it would add up to an extra $1.26 per bottle.

Jim Dunning, an Eau Claire County Board Supervisor, pitched the resolution to the committee on Thursday night.

"I'm thinking by making the price of drink at the bar higher it will have effects of reducing the amount of alcohol consumed," he said.

He got the idea when the county was preparing the budget and realized a lot of taxpayer money already goes into fixing issues related to alcohol.

He wants to turn that extra money you would pay on a beer and use it for alcohol education, awareness and treatment.

He says Wisconsin already has one of the lowest beer taxes in the country - and this would put it at the national average.

But not everyone is sold on the idea.

"It might work and help the problem but I don't know if raising or putting taxes on beer would work that way," said Nicole Buds, a college student.

Some people we talked with worry it would keep people out of the bars, thereby hurting businesses.

"We already pay a lot of taxes for every other thing, so just adding more onto that wouldn't be solving any problem, people would just drink at home and not be on the bar scene," another student told us.

The resolution proposed at Thursday's Committee on Finance and Budget meeting passed and will be read at the next Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Any decisions the Eau Claire County Board makes on this would be strictly symbolic. Laws about adding and changing beer taxes would have to be made at the state level.

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