Thursday, April 22, 2004

Lexington's final call likely to be 2:30 a.m.

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - Alcohol sales would be extended by 90 minutes under a proposal that won tentative approval from the city's governing council.

The proposal would allow liquor sales until 2:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Last call would remain before 11 p.m. on Sundays. The Urban County Council voted 10-5 Tuesday to move ahead with the proposal.

Currently, bars must stop serving alcohol at 1 a.m. most days.

Proponents of the measure say the current bar-closing time is outdated and puts Lexington at a disadvantage for such things as convention business.

"I think 1 a.m. has gone the way of the buffalo," said Councilman George Brown.

The proposal still needs two official council readings before it becomes final. Final approval could come in mid-May.

Restaurant and bar owners - many of whom pushed for the later hours after the council passed a public smoking ban last year - were pleased with Tuesday's vote.

Council pushed back the effective date to Aug. 1 because the change is expected to affect police.

With a 2:30 a.m. bar closing time, Police Chief Anthany Beatty said, the department would need additional officers on duty between 2 and 4 a.m. at a cost of $305,000 a year in overtime.

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