A D.C. Council committee defeated Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s proposal to extend bar hours by one hour and instead recommended that the city increase its alcohol tax.
Though the vote dealt a serious setback to Gray’s proposal for raising $3.2 million in revenue, it could still resurface during the final days of budget negotiations later this month.
Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), the chairman of the committee, has been a staunch opponent of extending alcohol sales.
Pedro Ribeiro, a Gray spokesman, said the mayor continues to support his proposal to extend bar hours, casting it as a choice between his plan and higher taxes.
The mayor fully supports his approach,” Ribeiro said. “No new taxes. No new fees. A lot can still happen. . .We think it’s the right approach.”
Many neighborhood groups also opposed the plan, citing the potential for late-night noise and violence. But tourist and business groups supported the move, saying the city needed to evolve into more of a 24-hour city.
Council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Michael Brown (I-At large) joined Graham in opposing the measure.
Council members Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) supported the proposal.
The council now faces a $3.2 million hole in the fiscal year 2013 budget. To make up the gap, Graham, Wells, Brown and Barry are recommending a 6-cent per drink increase in the city’s alcohol excise tax.
The committee did approve two segments of Gray’s alcohol proposals.
By a unanimous vote, the committee agreed that bars should be able to stay open until 4 a.m. during the presidential inauguration every four years.
The committee also agreed to allow class A and class B liquor stores to open at 7 a.m. instead of 9 a.m., except on Sundays