The Daily Gamecock

Alcohol tax could help fund Five Points safety

Additional fees on drinks could go to increased police presence

The university and local community are in the midst of a crisis regarding the safety of Five Points. Many prominent community leaders have come forward with proposals to enhance safety, including improved lighting, live camera surveillance, and standardized closing times.

While these are worthy proposals, policymakers should not ignore the benefits of a county tax on alcohol consumed in bars.
The low prices and the young age of patrons in Five Points make it a naturally dangerous place. People are more likely to be violent or accidentally put others in danger when they are under the influence of alcohol, particularly when they are binge drinking.
The only way to mitigate this danger is through a strong police presence that is able to intervene quickly when a situation is about to get out of hand.

Simply suggesting increased police presence sounds nice, but the issue of how to pay for it becomes a thornier issue.

The community could redirect police resources from other neighborhoods to patrol Five Points or it could raise general taxes to hire more police, but it doesn’t seem fair to ask the average person to sacrifice so the students in Five Points can party safely.
To pay for a large police presence in Five Points, Richland County should institute a tax on alcoholic beverages consumed in bars. The tax should be a set dollar amount based on the volume of alcohol in a given beverage.

This is more effective than a tax set at a percentage of the drink’s purchase price, as a percentage tax would have a smaller impact on the cheap drinks that permeate Five Points.
This policy would increase safety in two ways. First, it will finance an increased police presence that will allow officers to monitor security cameras throughout the night and dispatch officers to investigate potential danger.

Second, the tax will discourage the binge drinking that is so common in Five Points and that increases the likelihood of dangerous activity exponentially.

While many students may at first protest such a tax, they should recognize that it’s not the community’s role to subsidize student partying. A tax would remind all of us that our security isn’t free, and when our actions require increased safety, we should be the ones to pay for it. In the end it’s better to party safely, even if it is a little more expensive.