County Board: Keep ABC Stores Under State Control
The sale of alcoholic beverages should remain under state control, as far as the Moore County Board of Commissioners is concerned.
At a Tuesday meeting the board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution supporting continued state operation of the Alcoholic Beverage Control system. The board tabled the matter at a January meeting.
Commissioner Tim Lea reported that he has discussed the issue with Sheriff Lane Carter, ABC Board chairman John Garner and other leaders and said all agree the system should remain unchanged. Lea made the motion to adopt the resolution.
However, at least one local official disagrees.
Whispering Pines Mayor Bob Zschoche expressed his opposition in vivid terms earlier in the meeting. He was speaking during the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting and included his opinion about the ABC operation along with remarks on another subject. Zschoche said he was speaking as a resident, not in his official capacity with the village.
Zschoche said only a small percentage of the money is allocated to municipalities.
As for the moral issues connected with the sale of alcoholic beverages, Zschoche said it would make just as much sense for the state to control the sale of tobacco products and operate cigarette stores.
“One is just as silly as the other,” he said.
This is the second time in recent years that the commissioners have taken a stand on the issue of state control of the ABC system. A similar resolution was adopted in 2009 at a time when the issue was being debated because of questionable behavior by ABC boards in other parts of the state. No such controversy has arisen for the Moore County board.
The resolution says the ABC system has generated revenue averaging $439,456 a year to the county and municipalities in the last five years. The total for the 2009-10 fiscal year was $461,632.
The major portion of the taxes and profits goes to the state.
Statistics printed on bags used by ABC stores in Moore County a year ago show a total distribution in excess of $2.7 million for the previous year. Of that total, $2 million went to the N.C. Department of Revenue. The remaining money was distributed as follows: $433,237 to Moore County; $114,700 to Aberdeen; $1,469, Taylortown; $207, Foxfire; $93,176, Pinehurst; $98,655, Southern Pines; $845, Carthage; $459, Whispering Pines; $187, Vass. The money is distributed to those towns that have ABC stores or permit the sale of mixed beverages.
The resolution notes that when local voters approved liquor sales for off-premises consumption, they did not vote to allow liquor to be sold in private retail businesses. It further says that funds paid from taxes and profits provide a “revenue stream” that “is a critical source of local government funding.”
Privatization of alcoholic beverage sales is a subject that has frequently arisen throughout the state in recent years. Opponents argue that the state-controlled system emerged from the Prohibition era and is no longer needed. They also argue that the present system shuts out competition and keeps prices high and that private sales would not change the collection and distribution of taxes.
Supporters of the state-operated system also argue that, in addition to providing revenue to local governments, the system allows more strict law enforcement.
Gov. Beverly Perdue recently issued a statement supporting state operation of alcoholic beverage sales. In a major address in Pinehurst late last year, she proposed privatization of a number of state programs in an effort to streamline state government and save money during a tight budget season. In her latest announcement, however, Perdue said the ABC program was not among her proposals for privatization.
More like this story