WRAL Investigates

Budget reform panel eyes motor fleet, ABC system

Posted March 10, 2010
Updated March 11, 2010

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— A panel organized by Gov. Beverly Perdue to locate waste and inefficiency in North Carolina government on Wednesday took aim at two issues uncovered last year by WRAL News investigations.

State agencies spend millions of dollars for vehicles that sit idle, WRAL Investigates reported in November. Agencies lease vehicles from the state Motor Fleet Management Division, which charges for a monthly minimum of 1,050 miles on each vehicle to cover maintenance, insurance and gas for more than 8,500 state-owned vehicles.

If vehicles are driven more than 1,050 miles in a month, the agency must pay extra. But agencies still must pay the minimum rate if cars travel less than 1,050 miles, which has happened increasingly over the past year as state travel expenses were cut to help with the record budget shortfall.

The Budget Reform and Accountability Commission on Thursday proposed changing the minimum mileage and the rates charged by the motor fleet so agencies don't overpay if they drive less.

The commission also looked at reforms to the state-run liquor system.

Another series of WRAL Investigates reports found some local Alcoholic Beverage Control administrators earning six-figure salaries, while others accepted perks from liquor manufacturers and distributors.

Jon Williams, chairman of the state ABC Commission, proposed to the reform panel that some local ABC boards be merged and that county governments be responsible for how those local boards operate. He also recommended allowing private retailers to sell liquor in areas where an ABC store wouldn't be profitable.

Local alcohol boards often operate with limited regulation, and tighter controls could mean standardized salaries, accounting and training.

Details of the proposed changes to the motor fleet and the ABC system still have to be hammered out by state lawmakers and Perdue.

The commission has received more than 400 budget-saving ideas already, and it is accepting more ideas from the public. There is no estimate so far on how much the state could save through recommended changes.

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  • superman Mar 11, 11:22 a.m.

    Seems to me that after reading the article -- not much will change with the ABC. Their power goes deep. They should do something-- it just ain't right for people to be making 250k a year.

  • BubbaDuke Mar 11, 8:43 a.m.

    whatusay - I say what you say.

  • BubbaDuke Mar 11, 8:42 a.m.

    Let's see if I got this right: The government buys vehicles and then leases them to themselves. This means that they used tax-payer dollars to buy the vehicles and more tax-payer dollars to pay for the leases. Great scam they've got running her. At least they didn't tax these vehicles or they'd be hitting us up for that as well.

  • whatusay Mar 11, 8:37 a.m.

    Ozzmann...we really don't need a Dept Of Energy. They don't do anything. Jimmy Carter started the Dept of Energy and said it would drive energy prices down, make us more independent from foreign oil. Do you see the US independent from foreign oil? Carter and Obama are very similar, neither is very smart. They only want bigger government.

  • OSX Mar 10, 7:39 p.m.

    I bet the ABC guys are squirming now. Their free ride with no checks and balances has just ran into a 60 year old oak tree at full speed.

  • OzzzMan Mar 10, 6:52 p.m.

    I think the Federal Government should do the same thing. The Department of Energy, 16,000 employees and the gas prices still high.

  • colliedave Mar 10, 6:36 p.m.

    In terms of state-owned cars, wouldn't be cheaper to reimburse employees at IRS for state business? Would eliminate maintenance and leasing expenses?

  • Tax Man Mar 10, 6:09 p.m.

    How about all those school buses? Can't we reduce the number and cut lots of costs. And why do we have to bus kids once they are in middle/high school? Perhaps parents need to cover the cost of getting their kids to school.

    As to the ABC - sell them all and use retail outlets like grocery stores, warehouse clubs and mini marts to sell liquor - allow competition (no price restrictions) but keep the tax per bottle - they will sell a lot more than the ABC ever did and the state will profit - plus the state won't have to pay for the real estate and the employees! And no government pensions for the ABC folks.