Kasim Reed wants to tax your cocktails more

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imageMayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council delivered a one-two punch last week. On the same day the council approved a $1 million settlement in the botched Eagle raid, they also OK’d Reed’s request for a proposal to boost liquor and drink taxes in the city.

Drink up, party-goers. If Reed has his way, the city will raise an additional $11 million in cocktail taxes next year that impact both bulk sales and individual drinks, hikes that already-strapped bar owners are likely to pass along to their customers.

imageThe increases – similar to ones outgoing Mayor Shirley Franklin proposed last year — are part of Reed’s legislative package for the upcoming session at the Gold Dome. That means state lawmakers will ultimately have to approve the legislation, and with the GOP in tight control of the State Capitol, there’s hope that the reluctance of Republicans to increase taxes might actually benefit gay cocktailers. The proposed hikes went nowhere during the 2010 session, though Reed — a former state lawmaker — carries more sway at the Gold Dome.

What makes this move by Reed even more difficult to swallow is that it comes after he and the council earlier this year signed off on steep increases in license fees for bars, clubs and restaurants at a time when they refuse to even study the possibility of returning bar hours to pre-2003 levels. It’s an issue that has rankled gay bar owners, who complained to City Council member Alex Wan, the council’s only openly gay member, during a meeting in early November.

Wan, by the way, voted for the license fee hike in June but was absent for the Dec. 6 vote on the legislative package that includes increases in drink taxes.


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