St. Charles bars could pay $900 a year to stay open until 2 a.m.

Staying open until 2 a.m. could cost St. Charles bars and pubs up to $900 more a year, under a plan reviewed Monday by the city's liquor commission.

The revisions to the city's licensing law will be presented to the city council's government operations committee Dec. 2 or 16, said Mayor Ray Rogina, who is also the city's liquor commissioner. He said the goal is to have the city council vote on changes before the end of the year, and implement any changes when licenses come up for renewal May 1.

Under the plan, the base closing time would revert to midnight. A 1 a.m. permit would cost a licensee an additional $800 annually, and a 2 a.m. permit $900 more.

An establishment that has a 1 a.m. permit would end up paying $2,000 annually to renew its license and permit; a 2 a.m. permit-holder would pay a total of $3,500 for renewal.

The extra money would go in to the city's general fund. But it could be earmarked for costs related to police calls to the bars late at night, according to city administrator Mark Koenen. Commission member Alderman Maureen Lewis pointed out one reason the city is considering the permits is because of the number of police calls to bars.

Rogina said he also intends to have the city council review permits annually, and give it the power to reduce permitted hours for a business if it thinks it is problematic.

St. Charles city officials are tired of hearing police reports of public drunkenness, fights, public urination, people passing out and disorderly conduct, particularly in the downtown area and especially around closing time on weekends. An August 2012 weekend that had nine calls for fights prompted then-Mayor Don DeWitte to consider moving closing time up to 1 a.m. The city had extended closing time to 2 a.m. two years earlier, and then experienced a 40 percent increase in calls for fights and intoxicated persons.

“I certainly don't think it is unfair ... for 2 a.m. holders to share the costs,” commission member Chuck Amenta said .

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