Gov. Deval Patrick believes cities and towns would benefit financially from the licenses because of the fees they charge and the additional tax revenue a new business would generate.

Massachusetts cities and towns would have more power to grant alcohol licenses if lawmakers approve Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan to help communities bring in money.


The number of licenses most towns can award is based on population. To get additional or seasonal licenses, towns must file a petition with the Legislature.


Under Patrick’s proposal, towns would have authority to set the number of alcohol licenses they distribute. Seasonal licenses would still go through the Legislature.


Cities and towns would benefit financially from the licenses because of the license fees they charge and the additional tax revenue a new business would generate. For example, Weymouth charges $2,600 for an all-alcohol restaurant license.


“It would absolutely be a benefit for this community,” said Melissa Arrighi, acting town manager of Plymouth. “Any time that the local government can find ways to bring in revenue, we appreciate that.”


Others are less sure the law change would help because the demand for liquor licenses drops during a recession.


“I don’t think there’d be a groundswell right now in Quincy,” said Joseph Shea, city clerk and chairman of Quincy’s board of license commissioners. Quincy has about 100 licenses issued to bars, restaurants and clubs. In addition, 16 supermarkets in the city sell alcohol.


Shea said when times are good there seem to be no licenses available, but when the economy falters not as many people want them.


Franklin Fryer, Weymouth town clerk and chairman of the licensing board, said the town is under its license quota right now.


“We don’t have anybody breaking the door down,” Fryer said. “Everybody’s hurting in business.”


Marshfield Town Administrator Rocco Longo agreed, but said it would still be a good step toward giving the town more financial freedom.


Sen. Michael Morrissey, D-Quincy, said increasing the number of alcohol licenses might cause them to lose their value. The license have market value and are often sold as part of a business operation.


But Ed Morris, manager of The Fours restaurant in Quincy, said he believes the value of an alcohol license is based on the value of the business for which it is issued.


Officials in Brockton and Hingham said they will wait and see what happens with the legislation before debating its merits.


The Patriot Ledger