Friday, April 15, 2011

Testimony - FY12 Budget ABRA

Here's the public testimony I submitted to the Committee on Human Services regarding the Alcohol Beverage Regulatory Administration.

I am submitting my written testimony as a public witness (private citizen).

The Honorable Mayor Vince Gray’s proposed Fiscal Year proposal includes $2.4 million in revenue from increased alcohol tax and extended alcohol sales. I support increasing the alcohol tax as proposed in the Mayor’s budget. My community’s proximity to a liquor store, give me serious concerns related to the provision to extension liquor sales to midnight.

Village Liquors, located in the Fairfax Village Shopping Center, currently has a “Retail A” liquor license. Since there is no voluntary agreement between the owners and the community, Village Liquors would be eligible for requesting extended liquor sales under the Mayor’s proposal. This would be detrimental to our community.

Fairfax Village, a sub-neighborhood of Hillcrest, is a family-friendly residential community made of up condominiums and townhomes. The Fairfax Village Shopping Center abuts our community with neighborhood-oriented retail. Due to our proximity to the shopping center, liquor and beer bottles are tossed on our lawns, people loiter at the shopping center in front of the liquor store, and there is constant foot traffic through our community. I cannot (an do not) wish to imagine this continuing until midnight.

I have two major concerns with putting a provision like this in the budget:
  • Community losing leverage in liquor license process: Putting a provision like this in the budget means that ABRA is depending on that projected revenue. If ABRA begins to fall short of the $2.4 million projections, I fear that the financial needs of ABRA will trump the community’s desire to not want extended liquor store hours in their respective communities. I do not wish to bear the burden of extended liquor sales in order for ABRA to meet budget projections.
  • The revenue does not take into account indirect costs: The $2.4 million revenue does not consider indirect costs such as additional police presence and sanitation enforcement. For example, an on-duty Metropolitan Police Department officer sits in the parking lot and/or inside the liquor store through closing. If that is extended two additional hours, police resources may be pulled from other locations in the Police Service Area to cover the shopping center.
In conclusion, I support an increased alcohol tax. I do not support extended liquor store hours for liquor stores within walking distance of my community.

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