Brannan, Powers introduce bill to suspend liquor license surcharge

May 9, 2022 Jaime DeJesus
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A bill that would suspend the liquor license surcharge for bars, entertainment venues and restaurants, sponsored by Councilmembers Justin Brannan (D-Southwest Brooklyn) and Keith Powers (D-Central Park East-Midtown East), was introduced Tuesday with the goal of putting more money in small business owners’ pockets.

Mayor Eric Adams is backing the bill, saying that the COVID-19 pandemic was especially hard on the above-named businesses. 

The bill has its origin in a plan released by Adams in March titled “Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery.” The blueprint contains more than 70 concrete proposals to  help realize the mayor’s goal of revitalizing the city’s economy. 

One of these measures would provide small businesses with much-needed relief by cutting opening times in half, suspending the city’s 25 percent surcharge on liquor licenses, streamlining inspections, reforming licensing requirements, providing back-office support and free tax preparation, improving language access, and helping small businesses expand their digital footprints.

Mayor Eric Adams has supported a bill that would suspend the city’s liquor license surcharge Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

“Suspending the local tax these businesses currently pay on liquor licenses is a simple, common-sense way to put money back into their pockets and help keep their doors open,” Adams said. “This was a key component of my economic blueprint in March, and I am proud to support this legislation sponsored by Councilmembers Powers and Brannan.”

Brannan said that small-business owners have been through the wringer during the past few years, and they need the city’s support.

“Taking the health, safety, and well-being of your customers and employees seriously, while doing everything you can to make sure your business survives a global pandemic, basically calls for a miracle,” he said. “Everyone loves to say ‘small businesses are the backbone of our local economy,’ but talk is cheap. By suspending this tax, we can help lighten their load just a little bit.”

Councilmember Justin Brannan is one of the co-sponsors of a bill to help restaurants and bars. Photo courtesy of Councilmember Justin Brannan

According to NY1, the initiative would mean about $6.5 million less in city revenue. Powers said officials would try to make up this shortfall by looking elsewhere in the budget process.

The NYC Hospitality Alliance, a not-for-profit association which represents New York City restaurants and nightlife establishments, supports the bill.

“We’ll cheers to that, and we look forward to working with them to get it signed into law, along with other pro-hospitality industry policies,” the group wrote via Facebook.

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the group, also tweeted, “Getting stuff done.”

“It’s time to tap into common-sense proposals to help New York City’s small businesses,” said Powers. “I’m excited to join Mayor Adams today to raise a glass to our city’s nightlife by putting money back into their pockets. Cheers to boosting the spirits of our bars and restaurants — it’s worth the shot!”

Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer stated the legislation will provide welcome financial relief to many of the businesses that were most impacted by the pandemic. 

“It will help support our nightlife industry — a critical engine of our tourism economy — and deliver on a commitment from our ‘Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent’ blueprint for the city’s economic recovery,” she said.

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