City proposal could raise alcohol license fees

- Atlanta bar and restaurant owners are upset over a proposed hike fees to obtain a liquor license from the city.

Dozens of outraged bar owners and restaurateurs opposed to proposal attended a meeting Tuesday. The crowd was so big the meeting was moved to City Council Chambers.

Currently, the city offers a single license for the sale of distilled spirits, wine, and malt beverages at bars and restaurants.

Under the proposal, the fee would increase by as much as 300 percent with some business owners having to pay as much as $20,000.

That means business owners would be required to purchase separate beer, wine, and spirits licenses at $5,000 apiece.

The city said the increase in fees is not to raise revenue, but to cover the cost of regulating alcohol sales, something the city claims it is unable to do under the current fee structure. But opponents said the change could put some of the city’s smaller bars and restaurants out of business.

“Well, a lot of bars and restaurants struggle, and there's not that much of a profit margin. So an extra $20,000, an extra $10,000, depending on what their license is, you know that's a huge amount of money when you're not making a lot to begin with. So, it could put people out of business,” said Dave Bishop, bar owner.

Members of the Public Safety Committee also expressed concerns and decided to hold the legislation saying they want more information about the fee increase and the city administration needs to provide a justification action for the fee increase. Those answers could come as soon as Oct. 30.

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