Where is the new alcohol tax going? An update on the Community Action Grant Committee

by Leif Albertson

On October 3rd, the citizens of Bethel approved a ballot measure to raise the tax on alcohol sold in Bethel from 12% to 15%.

While the first 12% of the tax will continue to go into the general fund where it will pay for city services such as roads, police and fire, the additional 3% will go into a dedicated fund to be distributed to community projects by the Community Action Grant (CAG) Technical Review Board.

These funds will be distributed to not-for-profit initiatives designed to mitigate some of the negative effects we’ve seen as a result of increased alcohol use in our community. The city’s policy document on the CAG board states that the purpose of the grant program is:

“…to advance and enhance the community’s opportunities, sustainability, and wellbeing. The City encourages projects and programs with components that foster community wellness, direct impact to the community’s vulnerable population(s) and/or civic engagement of Bethel residents and project beneficiaries.”

How does this work?

Groups or individuals who are interested in the funds will fill out an application. The CAG board will evaluate and rank the applications and decide which applications should receive funding. The city council then gives final approval and the winners receive a check. Awardees will provide a short, narrative report on how the funds were spent.

Who is eligible to apply?

Non-profit entities with plans for a project or program that promotes a healthy community.

Is this only open to 501(c)3 non-profit organizations?

No. While the grants are for non-profit activities, grantees are not required to be registered as non-profit organizations with the federal government.

How much money are we talking about?

We aren’t entirely sure yet, but based on current alcohol sales, the CAG board will probably distribute approximately $200,000 annually. Grants will likely range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars each.

Who is on the committee?

This committee, like all city committees and commissions, is made up of volunteers from the community. Currently, the members are Jennifer Dobson, Eileen Arnold, Sarah Angstman and council representative Leif Albertson. These individuals will be tasked with reviewing grant applications and recommending which grants to fund.

There are currently openings on the CAG committee. If you would like to serve your community by evaluating grant applications, contact the office of the City Clerk to pick up an application packet.