St. Augustine proposing a nightlife permit fee for restaurants

St. Augustine pursuing tax for safer nightlife

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Restaurants and bars in St. Augustine that serve alcohol late at night may have to start paying extra to do so.

St. Augustine City Manager John Regan tells Action News Jax that in order to keep people safe at night while downtown some big changes need to be made.

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Those changes, he said, that include increased patrols, increase litter control as well as a new extended hours permit and fee for local businesses that serve alcohol past a certain time.

"I think it would be a major impact on us. We will not be able to make money to stay open," Trade Winds Tropical Lounge bartender Rachael Green told Action News Jax.

"We’re putting more responsibility for the businesses to be proactive with their patrons and with the city," Regan said.

According to Regan, there will be standards within the permit to help bar owners maintain 'quality professionalism' which include responsible beverage training, improved security and sound.

Green told Action News Jax that several restaurants are already doing that.

"We do alcohol training classes by the state every four months that teach us the proper way to handle somebody that’s been over-served," Green said.

Action News Jax has reported on a separate shooting, stabbing and shots fired outside a Flagler college dorm that all happened just this year in St. Augustine.

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It's crime that Regan believes should slow with this added permit fee, but local businesses aren't too sure.

"No, I don’t think so. I mean, I haven’t really noticed a huge impact ... a crime wave or a crime spree that time of night. It can happen anytime of the day. It doesn’t have to be after 11 o’clock at night," Green said.

City commissioners will decide whether to move forward with the city manager's plan.

If the plan is approved, the city will start working with local business owners to create the legislation for the added nightlife permit and fee.

It's a piece of legislation that could take anywhere from 30 to 45 days until complete, Regan said.

A public workshop with the city and local businesses is already scheduled for Aug. 28 at 3 p.m. at City Hall.

Other changes include a hub for ride-sharing services and more frequent power washing downtown