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Md. patrons now pay more for a pour

By Pam Rigaux

Saturday - 7/2/2011, 7:13am  ET

The state's surcharge of 3 percent on alcohol on top of a 6 percent sales tax Friday was a double sting for some bar patrons in downtown Frederick. Others took it in stride.

With the surcharge, which took effect Friday, a $2 happy-hour drink was $2.18. Before Friday, the sales tax was 6 percent. The drink would have cost $2.12.

The sales tax and surcharge add up to 9 percent.

At Firestone's Culinary Tavern on North Market Street, Kim Koerting enjoyed a round of drinks with a friend that cost them an extra 12 cents.

"It's just not right," Koerting said. "It hurts the business."

Customers will go for more draft beers and fewer high-end drinks, Koerting said.

Richard Belles, owner of The Cellar Door restaurant at 5 E. Church St., said he was hoping the distributor would be responsible for the Maryland surcharge on alcohol.

The merchant has to collect it and pay it, Belles said. The surcharge and sales tax applies to all retailers in Maryland that sell alcohol.

"Whether a store or a restaurant, it's all the same," he said.

The sales tax and surcharge appear on the receipt, Belles said.

He spent Friday morning adjusting his billing so customers would see the sales tax and surcharge.

"I want to make sure they know," he said.

Belles didn't foresee a loss in alcohol sales.

Firestone's customers Patrick Shafer and Jason Mecler said they were happy to pay more for alcoholic drinks as long as the state used the money to help the economy and improve the quality of life for poor people.

"I think they should tax chocolate and other things like that," Mecler said. "Addiction is addiction. Spread it out."

At Bushwaller's, Kathy Geyer read a book and enjoyed a Samuel Adams draft beer.

"I don't think it's the state's business," she said.

Copyright 2011 The Frederick News-Post. All rights reserved.