The Six Million Dollar Giveaway

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Earlier this year New York City Mayor Eric Adams released his blueprint for the city’s economic recovery from the Covid crises, entitled Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery.  In it the mayor proposes a “complete reset with more than 70 concrete actions we will take to tear down the barriers to progress and build up a strong, resilient city with opportunity for everyone.” Among these proposals is the suspension of a small (25%) surcharge on any establishment licensed by the state to sell alcoholic beverages in the city. The planned one-year suspension, which will cost the city treasury $6 million in 2023, will benefit not only bar and restaurant operators but also the vast number of retail liquor and wine stores which dot the landscape across the five boroughs.

Yet the notion that retail liquor and wine stores in New York City are in need of a boost to their bottom line at this point is questionable, to say the least. Sales at retail liquor and wine shops surged during the height of the COVID pandemic, which is tragically consistent with the pandemic-related spike in alcohol-linked deaths across the country. Handing much needed city revenue back to retail liquor and wine stores under these conditions doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Moreover, while this measure may be framed as a way to help out mom-and-pop bars and restaurants holding liquor licenses, the benefit from the surcharge suspension will also flow to high-end establishments and corporate chain restaurants. Unlike other small retail stores in the city (like stores that sell clothing, jewelry, or toys), however, businesses which sell alcohol also generate significant costs to the city, since alcohol consumption is a factor in a number of the city’s biggest and most expensive health and social problems, ranging from gun violence and pedestrian injury to drug overdose, liver disease, breast cancer, and severe COVID.

In this light, sacrificing $6 million in city revenue next year to assist only businesses that sell alcohol is counterproductive.

Those resources would be far better redirected to underfunded needs like supports for homeless people or mental health services for children.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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