by Lisa Tome
Tim Snelling is aware that people criticize the way liquor licenses are issued or denied in Cecil County.
"There's been talk in the past about the way we issue licenses. We haven't found a better way so we're sticking with this," said Snelling.
Snelling, a member of the liquor board for more than 13 years and the board's current chair, was appointed to the part time job for which he earns $3,000 a year. The board members, Cuz Curry and John Eller, each earned $2,500 per year for serving.
Earl Bradford, Chief Inspector for the Cecil County Liquor Board, is in charge of the day-to-day operations. The board members also are busy. "We get calls all the time. And Earl makes us aware of everything," Snelling said. Last month, the liquor board granted several licenses. They denied a license for the owners of Cigar-Etc in Rising Sun Plaza. Snelling said one of the reasons it was denied because of impact on existing businesses.
"The economy is starting to pick up a little more. We want to see the current businesses stay in business," he said. "We approve most licenses unless the paperwork is not right or there is a big protest. We usually approve them. We listen to each case and decide based on testimony. Each case is different."
There are currently 46 licenses available throughout the county. And for every license that is not active, that means the county is losing money. It costs $400 to apply for a liquor license. There is a one time fee of $3,000 for beer, wine, and liquor sales. Annually, the free is $750 per establishment and an additional $500 per year for Sunday sales.
Liquor licenses are granted according to population by election district. One license is granted per 400 registered voters. Of the 46 licenses currently available, all are north of the C&D Canal. There are none available in Cecilton and two are currently grandfathered in. Chesapeake City also has a pending license and none available. There are 10 licenses available in Elkton, five in Fair Hill, 10 in North East, four in Rising Sun, seven in Port Deposit, one in Conowingo, and nine in Calvert.
Snelling is not surprised that so many are available in Calvert.
"Calvert has been a dry district forever. I don't recall anyone applying for a license in that district," he added.