D.C. Council rejects extending bar hours Wednesday

During a controversial hearing{ }Wednesday, the D.C. Council rejected Mayor Gray's proposal to extend bar hours in D.C. as a way to raise more revenue for the city.

Many in the government were looking to alcohol as a way for the city to earn more money.

Mayor Vincent Gray said he wants to keep bars open an hour later than they are now (4 a.m. on weekends), which many bar and club owners and patrons support.

The rejection was met with bitterness from one area club owner.

"We knew...we didn't grease the wheels and without wheels being greased in this town, nothing happens. So, no surprise," club owner Bill Duggan said.

Later hours would mean more tax revenue for D.C., but Ward 1 Council member Jim Graham, whose ward is home to many bars, is opposed.

"It's another hour for ... noise, crime, congestion — all of the things that are bothering our neighbors are going to have another hour to occur," he said.

Graham's solution is to raise taxes for the drinks and keep the present hours. He wishes to impose a six-cent tax per drink on liquor at the wholesale level, which he said would produce $20 million.

John Solomon, owner of Solly's, a tavern on U Street, is against Graham's proposal.

"Councilman Graham keeps coming to the business owners, especially the small ones, looking for ways to solve shortcomings, whether it's policing or finances ... and at some point, we can't keep giving more," he said.

The decision to impose a new tax is out of Graham's committee's jurisdiction. But, it's not out of the jurisdiction of Councilman Jack Evans and his Revenue Committee.

Evans said a new tax is something he wouldn't approve.

"If it comes to my committee, I will not move it. So yes, it will be dead if it comes to my committee," he explained.

Both measure could now appear before full council.

Gray said he would still like to see bar hours extended while not absolutely rejecting the idea of a new tax.

Gray added, "I stay with where I was in the first place. I said not new taxes, and I don't want to introduce a new tax when...I don't see anything flawed about the proposal we've advanced."