San Francisco lawmakers on Tuesday approved a fee on alcohol distribution to help the city recover the cost of dealing with problem drinkers, but the measure faces a likely mayoral veto.
The Board of Supervisors voted 7-3 to impose the fee on liquor wholesalers, brew pubs and winemakers beginning Jan. 1. It needed eight votes, however, to survive a promised veto from Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier recused herself from the vote because she and her husband own a wine business.
Under the proposal, the first of its kind in California, alcohol distributors would be charged 35 cents for every gallon of beer they sell, $1 for a gallon of wine and $3.20 for a gallon of hard liquor.
The city controller estimated it would bring in about $16 million a year for ambulance rides, arrests, treatment programs and other alcohol-related services.
"This is a response and action we can take as a board to really address the needs of our neighborhoods, our communities and people who are suffering from alcoholism in our city," Supervisor John Avalos, the law's sponsor, said.
Newsom, who got his start as an entrepreneur as the owner of a high-end wine store, said the fee would pose an unnecessary burden on businesses working to recover from the nation's economic recession.
"Pursuing this likely illegal new fee in this economic environment will impact thousands of businesses, cost jobs and put San Francisco at a competitive disadvantage with every other county in California," the mayor said.
Liquor industry representatives have said they would sue to overturn the fee if it is enacted.
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle
© 2010 The Associated Press.