WRAL Investigates

State wants to know how much ABC system is worth

Posted March 1, 2010

— North Carolina has hired an outside consultant to place a dollar value on the state-run liquor distribution business in case lawmakers decide to privatize it.

Lawmakers two weeks ago formed a committee to study possible reforms to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control system in the wake of scandals in both Mecklenburg and New Hanover counties.

Gov. Beverly Perdue sent a letter to lawmakers Monday outlining her thoughts about the future of the ABC system. If nothing else changes, she said, tighter state controls are needed to reduce the possibility of further ethics lapses.

WRAL Investigates reported that the former New Hanover County ABC board administrator made $244,000 a year, and his son earned $135,000 as his assistant. The Mecklenburg County ABC had to repay $9,000 to a liquor company that had picked up the tab for an expensive holiday dinner for board members, employees and their families.

Since lawmakers are looking at possibly privatizing liquor sales, Perdue said she instructed state ABC Commission Chairman Jon Williams to hire a consultant to determine the value of both the distribution and retail sales system.

"In this way, if we decide to privatize any part of the ABC system, we will know what it is worth before trying to sell it," she wrote in the letter, adding that she believes it's the first time any state has undertaken such a step.

John Converse, chairman of the Wake County Board of Alcohol Control, said Monday that he sees no reason to change the existing system. There are about 160 local ABC board statewide, and problems have been found at only two, he told Wake County commissioners.

"We welcome reform that will make our system better," Converse said.

The Wake County ABC was the most profitable in North Carolina during the 2009 fiscal year, he said. The 21 stores sold $75.3 million in liquor and generated $12.8 million in profits, $20 million in state tax revenue and $5.4 million for county and local governments, he said.

Perdue said any plan to privatize liquor sales must be through a contract that the state can renew or submit to new bidders after a set period. Also, any revenue derived from the sale of the ABC system cannot be used to fill budget holes, she said.

32 Comments

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  • superman Mar 2, 12:08 p.m.

    Getting comments or suggestions from the ABC Board is like asking the fox about security for the hen house.

  • superman Mar 2, 11:45 a.m.

    I dont drink so not too concerned about the price at the store. However, I do object to a person making 250k and his son making 120k-- didnt their salary come out of the profits? Why dont the county commissioners do more to supervise the ABC -- arent they under the control of the county?

  • employeenc Mar 1, 7:49 p.m.

    I thought it was privatized. It's called a still!

  • workingforthosethatwont Mar 1, 6:32 p.m.

    no to private ownership!

  • meh2 Mar 1, 6:13 p.m.

    Mmm, Blantons...

  • See Chart Mar 1, 6:08 p.m.

    I work in another State Part time that has private Liquor stores the State still makes money on Taxes and the stores can have a
    price war on certain brands of Liquor ,so because of competition
    liquor will be cheaper, not more expensive and wait till you
    see how many transplanted foreigners buy a store franchise.

  • whatusay Mar 1, 5:59 p.m.

    If ABC stores are "franchised" out prices will not go up. Competition keeps prices lower. Don't sell ABC rights to one person or corp, that would be a disaster. Allow many franchises to operate in the same county and let the state be the regulator.

  • ty will belabor a point Mar 1, 5:45 p.m.

    Look at the price of liquor in Tennessee and South Carolina./endquote

    ummmm, no. thx for playing. i can get any bourbon (I prefer Blanton's, Basil Hayden or Bookers) from Greens or any other liquor store for at LEAST $10 off per bottle compared to costs at our State Run Stores. Plus, if you want a zesty off the grid anything (vodka, tequila, etc.), forget about ABC for selection. They don't have it. Just the basics.

  • Rolling Along Mar 1, 5:41 p.m.

    @ nbforrest,

    In SC the state sets the prices and the hours the stores can be open...don't know about TN. I know Alabama is completely private and the prices were much higher than in most other areas I have traveled.

  • GWALLY Mar 1, 5:40 p.m.

    ..."tighter state controls are needed to reduce the possibility of further "ethics lapses"...." ????

    Is this what used to be known (before the enlightened, inclusive and politically correct age)...as lying, stealing and cheating??????

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