Submitted / The Outlook

Alexander City Schools is increasing its budget to reflect a rise in, among several of its income streams, beer tax revenue.

In Alabama, beer vendors pay an excise tax of $0.52 a gallon allocated in part to the state's education trust fund. Beer consumption appears to be up this year, if the school system's tax proceeds are any indication.

"Now sales tax, it's up by almost by 22.5% and beer tax is up by almost 12%," Alex City Schools financial officer Rhonda Blythe said at Thursday's school board meeting.

"Bottoms up," board member Denise Bates said, adding, "It wasn't me."

Blythe joked it appeared "we've had enough" of the pandemic.

Consumption of spirits is also on the rise. Last month, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board, which controls all liquor sales in the state, reported a 12.2% sales revenue increase from $531.2 million in 2019 to $596.1 million in 2020. Of that 2020 revenue, $22 million went toward the education trust fund.

As Blythe joked, COVID-19 is likely to blame. According to a December study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 60% of American adults surveyed reported increased drinking during the pandemic. The top three reasons cited by the study were increased stress, increased alcohol availability and boredom.

In addition to beer tax revenue, Blythe said she will also amend the budget to reflect increases in sales and property tax revenues.