Archive for Monday, March 26, 2012

Town Talk: Free State Brewing Co. expanding East Lawrence bottling plant; what KU’s Final Four may mean to city’s coffers; skate park renovation taking step forward

March 26, 2012


News and notes from around town:

• It won’t be done in time to help in the restocking of your fridge before Saturday’s game, but Free State Brewing Co. is expanding its East Lawrence bottling plant.

Free State leader Chuck Magerl told me the company is in the process of installing a new bottling line brought in from Germany and new fermentation tanks. The result will be that the production plant at 1927 Moodie Road now will be able to brew more beer and bottle it faster. After a 2008 fire set its plans back, the company has been bottling beer out of the location for about two years.

“It still feels like a carnival ride at times, but it has been satisfying to see the level of sales in Kansas that we have reached.”

Magerl believes the company still has room to grow sales in the Sunflower State, but the expansion also will allow the company to have more of a market presence in Missouri and Nebraska. (Free State did manage to have its brews on hand in a few St. Louis establishments last weekend.)

Last year Free State produced about 6,000 barrels of beer — which, if I’ve done my math right, is about 12,000 kegs or a little less than 2 million 12-ounce bottles. By next year, Magerl hopes to be producing 7,500 barrels — or just under 2.5 million bottles of beer. (Or in other words, about enough to get us through a Final Four weekend.)

• While we’re speaking of beer and Final Fours (perhaps your head is still pounding from the subject as well), here’s a quick little number about what Sunday’s victory may have done for the city’s coffers. In 2008 — KU’s last National Championship — Lawrence collected an additional $270,000 in drink tax revenues during that crazy sports year. In other words, bars and restaurants alone sold an additional $3.2 million worth of booze during that crazy sports year. (The National Championship was the big driver, but KU football crowds were also larger than normal that year when fans were still jazzed from KU’s Orange Bowl victory.) Liquor store sales and 3.2 beer sales aren’t included in that number.

Sales tax revenues added an even larger chunk to the city’s coffers in 2008. The city collected an additional $781,275 in sales taxes in 2008. Not all of that can be attributed to the Final Four, but a good portion can. Think of Final Four T-shirts, party platters, 25-gallon drums of guacamole dip, four or five new flat screen TVs, a back-up generator to power those TVs, a private satellite feed in case the cable goes out, a new crimson and blue Camaro, and all the other typical party stuff. All that comes with a sales tax. And this time around it will come with a larger sales tax than it did in 2008. Back in 2008, voters hadn’t yet approved the sales taxes for the T and for streets and infrastructure.

One last thing regarding taxes and partying: Not all partying is equal when it comes to helping the city’s coffers. The city gets a good amount of taxes from liquor sales made at bars and restaurants. Same goes for 3.2 beer bought at grocery stores or convenience stores. But that is not the case when you buy liquor at a liquor store. The city and county get zero tax dollars made from sales at liquor stores. Liquor stores don’t charge a traditional sales tax. Instead, they charge an 8 percent liquor enforcement tax. The state, however, keeps all the revenues from that tax.

Yeah, that’s not going to stop me from visiting a liquor store either, but it is an interesting quirk in the state’s tax laws. Even so, Sunday’s win certainly was a multimillion-dollar boost to the Lawrence economy.

• Maybe all this nerve-wracking basketball has you looking for a way to burn off some nervous energy. If so, you can always grab your skateboard and your insurance card and head off to the city’s skate park in Centennial Park.

Soon, though, that option will be temporarily off the table. The city is set to get started on a major renovation to the skate park. City commissioners at their Tuesday meeting are scheduled to hire Whoskates from Kennebunkport, Maine, to design and build the renovations at the park. The city has set aside $125,000 in its budget to improve the heavily used skate park. The next step is for the city and the company to host some public meeting with skaters and other interested parties to determine exactly what that $125,000 can buy.

But the company provided some photos of a New York skate park they built for about $125,000.


6 years ago

i love your idea of typical party supplies chad!

Frank A Janzen 6 years ago

Maybe the city takes in a lot of revenut from the commercial establishments, but how much does it pay out for police overtime?

Chad Lawhorn 6 years ago

That's a good point. Here are the numbers the city compiled for 2008 in terms of costs associated with staffing and cleaning up Final Four celebrations: Fire & Medical: $14,281 Parks and Rec: $6,400 Police Department: $29,052 Public Works: $3,928 Total: $53,661

Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

Chad Lawhorn 6 years ago

You got me curious. It looks like you are right to a degree. These numbers are from KU's Web site: Fall 2004: 26,890 full and part-time students Fall 2005: 26,934 Fall 2006: 26,773 Fall 2007: 26,342 So, prior to the National Championship, there had been two straight years of declining enrollment. Then . . . Fall 2008 (post championship): 26,999 students, an increase of 2.4 percent. But alas, the downward trend has continued since then. Fall 2009: 26,826 Fall 2010: 26,266 Fall 2011: 25,448

Thanks, Chad

Bigdog66046 6 years ago

I saw the skate park today. Definitely would be good to get some improvements there. It looks like the people that are using it are taking good care of it, and this would be good to give everyone a good and safer place to ride.

Matthew Herbert 6 years ago

The declining enrollment at KU will continue as long as the cost of an education at KU continues to skyrocket.

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