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City passes alcohol fee, mayor vows to veto

 The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to pass a fee on alcohol distribution to help cover the cost of treating and dealing with problem alcoholics, but the measure faces a certain mayoral veto.

The board voted 7-3 in favor of the fee, which will be imposed on liquor wholesalers, brew pubs and winemakers beginning Jan. 1, according to the Associated Press. It needed eight votes to survive a veto from Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The approval came amidst heavy opposition from the alcohol industry and business advocates who said the fee will harm the local economy, according to the San Francisco Examiner. The fee breaks down to about three cents for a beer and four or five cents for a glass of wine or hard liquor. At the wholesale level that works out to 35 cents per gallon of beer sold, $1 per gallon of wine and $3.20 per gallon of hard liquor.

Revenue generated from the fee is estimated at $15-16 million. The fee would cover 90 percent of what the city spends on helping problem drinkers with things such as substance abuse treatment.

The fee is the first of its kind in the state, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Its backers say without its additional revenue, the city will find it difficult to keep existing services intact. Mayor Newsom sided with the opposition, saying now isn't the time to place additional burdens on businesses that are already struggling in this economy. Liquor industry representatives have pledged to sue if the fee is passed.

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier was recused from the vote because she owns a small wine business with her husband. A final vote is scheduled for next Tuesday.