Three Allegheny County bars closed this week by the county sheriff will have to pay more than $43,000 in past-due drink taxes and attorney fees before they will be allowed to reopen.
The sheriff's department shut down the Pittsburgh Cafe, on Meyran Avenue in Oakland; Mad Dawgs, on Saxonburg Boulevard in West Deer; and Reese's Supper Club, on South Fifth Street in Duquesne.
sheriff's department Sgt. Richard Fersch said today the county moves against about a dozen holders of liquor licenses each year for non-payment of the county's 7 percent drink tax. In only one case since the levy on poured alcoholic drinks was introduced in 2008 were the business's assets eventually sold to pay back taxes.
The businesses were shut down Wednesday.
According to the sheriff's office, The Pittsburgh Cafe in Oakland owes $12,365 and $277 in attorney fees; Mad Dawgs owes $18,379 plus $457 in attorney fees; and Reese's Supper Club owes about $11,958 and $467 in attorney fees.
Sgt. Fersch said closing down a business was a last step taken after multiple efforts to collect back taxes prove unsuccessful.
The county's drink and car-rental taxes bring in between $30 million and $32 million annually. They were introduced in 2008 to generate local matching funds for the Port Authority, which provides bus and light-rail service. When the 10 percent drink levy raised more money than was needed for mass transit matching funds, County Council trimmed the rate to 7 percent in 2009.
The tax is imposed on wine, beer and mixed drinks at the point of purchase. Allegheny County has about 2,000 bars and restaurants licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.
Len Barcousky: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1159. First Published October 4, 2012 1:30 PM