Proposed Mixed Drink Tax

The Hostess City's been trying to find ways to make it into the black for the coming year. There's an almost $1.5 million deficit, so now they're considering a mixed drink tax. The city's money problems started this year after it agreed to pay the county for housing its inmates. City council didn't want to raise millage rates for Savannahians, so instead it's raising liquor rates for tourists.

On any given Friday or Saturday night, Chas Belloit is tending bar at Tubby's Tankhouse, catering to hundreds of tourists.

"You got a great view of the river, see the ships coming in and out of port, huge draw for tourists," he said.

Another big draw are his mixed drinks, made with all types of liquors. He says he sells "lots of margaritas, frozen margaritas, strawberry daiquiris, rum runners, things like that."

But if city council has its way, the price of those rum runners will be running a little higher. The new mixed drink tax would be similar to what cities like Atlanta, Athens, and Augusta already have. The tax does not include beer or wine, just liquor. For each drink sold, restaurants would have to add on a three percent sales tax, which in turn goes right back to the city. It's a tax Tubby's isn't too concerned about, because it caters mostly to tourists.

"I don't know that it's going to be that much of an affect on the downtown district, because this is a town that thrives on tourism," noted Belloit.

And some restaurants feel that if a tourist wants a drink, he'll pay for it sales tax or not. City council has not voted on this yet, but we'll see it on their agenda soon. If it does pass, the mixed drink sales tax won't go into effect until July, so restaurants and bars have time to get used to it.

Reported by: Elizabeth Garcia, egarcia@wtoc.com