In response to a Kerrville brewpub owner’s request to lower the fee the county charges for a brewer’s permit, Kerr County commissioners on Thursday requested an overall policy covering “craft” businesses.
Jeremy Walther, owner of the Pint N Plow Brewing Co., asked the court to consider decreasing the fee — $1,750 every other year — for a brewer’s permit. The amount is half of the fee Walther’s company pays to the state and the maximum the county can charge.
Walther said that Pint N Plow includes a small brewery, but is primarily a restaurant that serves beer made on the premises. He had to apply for a brewer’s permit, he said, because some of his partners have interests in other alcohol-related industries in the state.
“It was my only option,” he told the commissioners’ court.
While the long-term plan is to develop Pint N Plow’s beer brands and market some of what is brewed there, Walther said that production for distribution would be limited because there is little storage space at the Clay Street facility.
Walther said that 99 percent of Pint N Plow’s craft beer is sold on-site, but the majority of the business’ income comes from food sales, not alcohol.
Attracting more customers to Kerrville is one of the business’ main goals, Walther said.
His request was supported Thursday by Charlie McIlvain, president and CEO of the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Walt Koenig, president and CEO of the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce.
McIlvain said any income the county loses from lower fees would be more than offset by increased income from taxes paid by customers to new brewpubs and similar businesses based on craft agriculture.
Koenig said the chamber is working to break down barriers to craft agriculture enterprises in the county, and that reducing the fee would be a step in that direction. Another example of the chamber’s work toward that goal is the petition recently launched to make all alcohol sales legal in Precinct 2. (See separate, related story in today’s edition of The Times.)
Pat Connally, regional supervisor of licensing with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, told commissioners that while the agency restricts local governments’ fees to 50 percent or less of the state fee, it does not tell Texas counties how much to levy.
He also noted that the TABC supports efforts to stimulate economic growth within the industry.
After hearing from these speakers, Precinct 2 Commissioner Tom Moser said the county needs to adopt a policy for all craft agriculture businesses, not just lower Pint N Plow’s brewer’s permit fee.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Jonathan Letz, leading the meeting in the absence of County Judge Tom Pollard, directed county officials, including Tax Assessor-Collector Diane Bolin and County Attorney Heather Stebbins, to write a policy that the commissioners can consider for adoption.
In other business Thursday, the commissioners accepted the resignation of Precinct 2 Constable James “Charlie” Hicks, and ordered advertising for applicants to replace him for the remainder of his term through 2019.
Hicks notified the court that he is resigning to take other employment. County officials determined that while the stated date of his resignation is Jan. 1, Hicks will continue to serve until a replacement is named, possibly at the court’s Jan. 8 meeting.