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Proposed new legislation would levy 10% tax on alcoholic drinks in Harrisburg

Updated: Monday, October 28 2013, 09:49 PM CDT
Reported by: Kirk Clyatt

HARRISBURG -- Act 47 cities like Harrisburg are always on the hunt for more tax revenue.

If a bill introduced by a Chester County Republican legislator becomes law, the next place more tax money could be coming from is local bars with a new 10 percent tax on alcoholic drinks.

Philadelphia has such a tax and last year it raised $51.5 million for the city's schools. In the western part of the state, Allegheny County’s drink tax is 7 percent and is expected to raise $34.6 million this year for the county’s transit system.

CBS 21 asked patrons at bars in downtown Harrisburg if it would be a good idea for Harrisburg to soon be looking for more help from the bar and found opinions were mixed.

Tyler Caldwell from Camp Hill said, "Desperate times call for desperate measures, but it is certainly going to impact me where I decide to spend my time. I might consider spending my money outside of the city."

Another bar patron put it this way, "I stay within the local area, which is pretty much what anybody probably does. Good chance I'm not maybe going to purchase as much product from the bars.”

Michael Kalathas was one patron who would pay more. "I enjoy downtown, so it wouldn't stop me in anyway shape or form. I like the atmosphere,” he said.

"What it is used for that would persuade me one way or the other," David Burke said, adding that he wants to see results. "If it was dumped right back into the city and results that you could see and point to, yeah I’d be open to that, sure."

Guy Panuccio from Anthony's Micro Pub said, "customers come here. They like the bar and we have loyal customers. A lot of people come in here. (They) feel the bar is great. It wouldn't affect us as far as customer base goes."

If a beer currently costs you $5 at a Harrisburg tavern, if this new 10 percent new becomes a reality, that beer won't necessarily cost you 10 percent more, Panuccio explained. 

"We'd absorb a little bit and also extend a little bit, but we would do our part as well just to keep customers happy," he said.

Stuart Delves from Ceolta’s Irish Pub, explained his position: "It's just another one of those unfair things, we've got beer companies up their prices twice a year, same with liquor, wine and we've had the same prices for five years, no increases."

Five years ago, kegs were "for like a Miller Lite it was like $69; (the) same keg now is like $89 thereabouts," he said.

Mayoral candidate Dan Miller told  CBS 21 he would support this tax as a way to raise money for the city and added that when alcohol taxes go up, crime is reduced.

A spokesperson for Eric Papenfuse said Papenfuse would consider any additional revenue and it is an interesting proposal, but that details matter.
Right now this new tax is only a proposal.Proposed new legislation would levy 10% tax on alcoholic drinks in Harrisburg

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