Thursday, February 16, 2012

Closing Time 2/16

Lucian McCarty will examine what it'd actually take to change closing time in Saratoga Springs in Sunday's issue of The Saratogian.

Believe it or not, this issue would actually come before the Board of Supervisors. They'd have to make the request to the State Liquor Authority, who makes the final decision.

Be sure to pick up a copy to read Lucian's full report, but I wanted to share some comments from Saratoga County Supervisors on the subject.

I asked them if they'd support closing time in Saratoga Springs if that's what changing the City Council wants to do, if the time would affect their vote, and what if closing time had to be changed county-wide.

The Liquor Authority has never had a request where it's only one municipality. That's not to say it can't happen, but it's something to consider.

Comments after the jump.

Matthew Veitch, Saratoga Springs

"I'm undecided on that," he said. "I'd let the City Council make their decision first before I'd even consider taking a stand on it."
Veitch also said that the time could definitely influence his vote. If bars were shut down earlier, he said, he's concerned that there may be more people who aren't necessarily done celebrating for the night. That could, in turn, cause more trouble downtown if people were to hang around.
"I'd say it's something to consider when we're taking our vote," he said.
Saratoga County's budget woes are well-documented. Is it really in a position to voluntarily give up some of it's sales tax revenue by voting to shut down the bars earlier? On the other hand, supervisors cried foul when their state legislators nixed a home-rule proposal to raise sales tax. If the county were to put down the city's request, wouldn't it be doing the same thing?
"We have to consider our situation," Veitch said. "But if the city wants to do something, is it the county's role to stop it?"
Dan Lewza, Milton
 "If the bar owners decided that was in the best interests of what they needed to do," he said, "then yes, I would support them?"
 If the bar owners did or if the City Council did? Because those are two different things.
 "Yes, it is. I haven't really thought about the issue, but I will support whatever the City Council puts forth. It's their city, I think they have a right to make their recommendations. I would support that."
Would the time influence you at all?
"I don't think that would influence me in the least. Whatever they think is best for the city is what I would join in with."
 What if it had to be county-wide?
 "It would, then, a little bit because then you're talking the whole county. That's something I don't think I would say I would support or oppose. At that point, that's something we would definitely have to look at and see what the ramifications are for leaving it at 4 a.m. and maybe for closing it at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. for the whole county -- how much that would change the revenue coming into the county."
 Mindy Wormuth, Halfmoon
"I'd have to talk to some business owners and residents up there," she said.
She said she was undecided on the proposal and if the time would affect her vote, but a county-wide stipulation could influence her decision.
"Probably," she said, "but I don't think there are many bars in Halfmoon that are open that late."
 Phil Barrett, Clifton Park
 "I have put zero thought into it," he said. "I have no idea. I think I'd like to see what their thoughts are and how they came to a conclusion. As far as I'm concerned, if they have issues they feel that can be adequately dealt with by making closing time earlier, it's something we need to talk about."
 He said a 3 a.m. closing time would be a "seemingly minor" change, but a 1 a.m. closing time would be "significant" he said he'd like to get input from business owners in Saratoga Springs and Clifton Park before making the decision, particularly if it had to be county-wide.
 "If you start talking about 1 a.m., that's a three-hour difference," he said. "I'd want to get input from business owners first before considering a change for the entire county."
  Preston Jenkins, Moreau
"I see no reason not to," he said of backing the city's request. "It has no direct effect on my community. I'd recognize anything that's not unreasonable."
He said he didn't think an earlier closing time would be a major blow to the county's sales tax revenue, as "the bulk of the sales tax revenue in the city goes to the city." Changing the closing time across the county board, however, is a different story.
 "If it was county-wide," he said. "I'd probably have a problem. If it was a county-wide issue, I don't think I'd support it."
 Alan Grattidge, Charlton
"I really don't have enough information."
Jean Raymond, Edinburg
"I don't think the government should be imposing terms and conditions on private businesses."
She also said that not everyone works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closing the bars earlier could limit the ability of some customers to patronize the bars.

I didn't have a chance to talk to Joanne Yepsen on Wednesday, but I have sought comments from her. As soon as I get them, I'll update this post.

I can't sign off without including a link to the song that's been stuck in my head for the past 30 minutes.

Until next time,


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Blogger blogger said...

Talk to the cops. Their opinion is unique and relevant. Many of them feel that a 2 am closing time would indeed have the opposite effect that proponents of an earlier hour believe it will have. Between 2 and 4 am, casual drinkers and drunks alike straggle from the bars for two solid hours. Sure, fights and drunken mayhem occur. That's unavoidable in a college town/tourist destination economy serving a large, transient clientele. The problem will occur when you dump that entire clientele, en masse, into the streets at exactly 2 am, instead of straggling them out till 4 am. There is plenty of empirical evidence to support the misguided thinking behind a 2 am closing time -- specifically from municipalities around the nation -- and the world -- with an intense tourist-based character like Saratoga Springs. But what's this discussion really about? Who really wants to close these bars earlier? My question is: Are we a kick-ass, world-class service and event destination or some whiny, provincial, puritanical Vermonty township? Man up, Saratoga. Quit wracking your collective brain for ways to slaughter the golden goose. Look around New York, the country, the world. We've got it pretty good. Step back. Take a breath. And for Christ's sake, stop trying to fix what ain't broken.

February 17, 2012 at 3:26 PM 

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