Put Those Drinks Down: Extended Bar Hours Not Assured

A proposal by Mayor Vince Gray to extend bar and liquor store hours is facing some skepticism from members of the D.C. Council, threatening the $5.3 million in revenue it has promised to pour into city coffers next year.

After Gray introduced the idea of adding an hour to closing time for bars on weekdays and weekends as part of his 2013 budget last week, Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) was quick to state his opinion for the record: “Keeping bars open until 4am as the mayor has proposed in his budget doesn’t work as a budget fix,” he tweeted. Today he told the Examiner that it would be a “major problem.”

Graham isn’t one to be taken lightly on the issue-the proposal would have to work its way through his committee, where it could be shelved. At a budget briefing today, Councilmember Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) seemed similarly skeptical about the idea.

Still, Graham faces a significant challenge in scrapping Gray’s proposal-he’d have to find a way to make up for the $5 million a year that the extended hours would bring in from 2013 to 2016. Since the budget has to be balanced, Graham can’t just cut that potential revenue, but rather has to replace it.

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