Restaurant group: Downtown alcohol sales cutoff plan could raise taxes

Restaurant group: Downtown alcohol sales cutoff plan could raise taxes

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A plan to require new businesses to stop selling alcohol at midnight being considered by the city of Charleston could result in a tax increase for residents, according to a statement from the chairman of a state restaurant association.

In a letter to Charleston City Council and Mayor Joe Riley, South Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association Chairman David McMillan argued the cutoff would decrease the amount of state and local taxes that would be collected, "potentially passing any offset for that decrease in collections along to the taxpayers in the City of Charleston."

"If approved, this ordinance would have a chilling effect on the growth of Charleston's number one industry, tourism," McMillan said. "Charleston richly deserves the distinction it has achieved as being the top tourism destination in the world. We as an Association strongly support initiatives to help grow our tourism industry. And by the same token, we strongly oppose ordinances such as this one which would create a playing field that's not level, set up selective enforcement, and stifle the growth of tourism."

City officials have said the ordinance is an effort to attract a variety of businesses to downtown.

The ordinance would make permanent a temporary moratorium passed by city council affecting businesses spanning King Street from Broad to Poplar Streets and sections of Meeting and East Bay Streets. The midnight cutoff only applies to future businesses that want to serve alcohol.

The May 27 vote for the ban sent the proposed ordinance to the Charleston Planning Commission, which is expected to conduct a public hearing on the ordinance. The outcome of recommendations from the commission will affect the ordinance's second and third readings by city council.

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