Vice Squad
Thursday, February 05, 2004
South Dakota Alcohol Developments

Vice Squad has adopted South Dakota as its venue for tracking alcohol policy, though it has been neglected for a few weeks now. Those University of South Dakota kids are kicking up a ruckus again. There was a fraternity party this weekend, where -- it was ascertained through some keen-eyed detective work -- alcohol was being consumed by underage individuals. It took officers four hours to round up and ticket 120 culprits -- 120 being roughly 40% of the underage population of South Dakota. [And no wonder, with such harassment! - ed.] (2002 population estimate for South Dakota: 761,063.)

South Dakota counties continue to press for an increase in the alcohol tax, earmarked for their use. Current South Dakota alcohol taxes go to the state and to cities, but not to counties. Increases in property tax rates have been curbed by a 1995 law that keeps such increases in line with inflation, so counties are casting about for new sources of revenue. The proposed alcohol tax increase is described as being about one nickel per drink. But stated in other terms, it sounds more substantial, at least if the figures provided by the executive director of the County Commissioners Association can be believed. He notes that the current tax on wholesale liquor, $3.93 per gallon, would increase to $10.33 per gallon; the current tax on wine, 93 cents per gallon, would go up to $2.76 per gallon; and, the 27 cents per gallon beer tax would rise to 80 cents per gallon.

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