Trenton Council Forcing City Bars to ‘Go Dry’ by Fourth of July

Due to shutdown of clerk operations, City liquor licenses will expire

June 15, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor W. Reed Gusciora forewarned “dire consequences” for liquor establishments throughout the City due to City Council inaction regarding renewal of retail alcohol licenses, or ABC licenses, set to expire midnight June 30, 2022.

The mayor noted that once the state issues a “tax clearance” list to the City, the Clerk’s Office would send out applications in April for liquor establishments to renew their licenses.

“That never happened,” said Gusciora, “due to Council’s mismanagement of the Clerk’s Office and overburdening the Clerk’s part-time replacement.”

With the July 1 deadline for renewal fast approaching, Council has not taken up the lack of staffing nor the need to process over 100 ABC licenses throughout the City. Moreover, City Council must pass resolutions renewing each license in the city. There are currently no Council sessions scheduled before July 1, 2022.

“Council’s inaction is going to bring us back to the Prohibition era,” said Gusciora. “But the fact remains this hurts bar or restaurants and the business owner’s bottom line and is completely irresponsible. Many hospitality workers will suffer in uncertainties due to Council’s indifference to the economic vitality of the city.”

The Administration had to step in and take over business registrations for the City and process January renewals that were not done. Gusciora issued an executive order extending the business registration deadline for roughly 400 businesses registered in the city.

“To add insult to injury, if bar owners want to continue operating, they would have to apply to the state for an ‘ad interim’ license for a cost until Council gets their act together,” he added.

Some business owners were told by alcohol distributors that they could not make deliveries to unlicensed premises after July 1.

“It is also concerning because the problem cannot be solved by executive order, since alcohol licensure is done by State law,” said Gusciora. “We offered to step in and help process renewal applications, but we were rebuffed by the Council President. We have notified the State about the problem. This needs to be resolved, asap.”