State News

Local ABC boards fight privatization

Posted December 20, 2010
Updated December 21, 2010

— The local government panels that operate North Carolina's 400-plus liquor stores are trying to head off potential efforts by the state Legislature or Gov. Beverly Perdue to privatize alcohol sales.

The lobbyist for the North Carolina Association of Alcoholic Beverage Control Boards wrote lawmakers last week urging them to oppose any privatization efforts. The association made the letter public on Monday.

“North Carolina ranks third among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in revenue per capita from the sale of spirits and 48th in per capita consumption. North Carolina’s control system for the sale of spirits works and accomplishes important public health and revenue objectives,” lobbyist Jon Carr wrote.

Liquor store, ABC store, liquor generic Local ABC board fight privatization

The state ABC Commission is supposed to get estimates soon from a consultant about how much money the state could get if retail sales or distribution systems were handed to outsiders. Perdue said last week she wants that information before deciding whether to pursue it.

"I've very publicly contemplated the sale of the ABC system," Perdue said Monday.

Critics argue that the state system got out of control with salaries and liquor industry gifts and junkets. A WRAL News investigation a year ago disclosed high salaries for the administrators of the New Hanover ABC system.

Walter Harris, president of the state Association of ABC Boards, said Monday that legislation passed this year will help tighten regulation and make procedures more uniform.

Going private would give the state only a one-time jolt of revenue, Harris said, while the current system generates more than $200 million a year in tax revenue, with much of it going to local government.

"We think control is a better idea than privatization," he said. "One hundred percent of the profit currently belongs to the people of North Carolina, and it goes to them. If the system were privatized, whoever that is that's operation is going to take some of that money."

State lawmakers are expected to decide in the upcoming session whether to sell the ABC system to a private entity.

When asked whether the local ABC boards were trying to protect their jobs, Harris said, "We're trying to protect the people of North Carolina."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • benjaminrequena Dec 21, 2010

    If the ABC system was created to control alcohol related public issues, why were there more alcohol related accidents in NC than 44 of the other states? Why is there a higher percentage of underage drinking in NC than in Nevada, the home of "Sin City" Las Vegas? The control part of the ABC system has never worked because it's in direct conflict with the money making focus.

    Join the Facebook group to privatize the NC ABC system

  • benjaminrequena Dec 21, 2010

  • Alexia.1 Dec 21, 2010

    It should have been privatized years ago. This is not a communist country, after all.

  • bbrown07 Dec 21, 2010

    Tax it like they do cigarettes ,or more!! the cigarettes don't make people do Stupid Things like the alchol does

  • oleguy Dec 21, 2010

    Let it go private,,, I am ready to set up a store...

  • angelneighbours Dec 21, 2010

    Most of you dont realize where the profits go. Each year every county board gives the profits back to the communities. To Law Enforcement, M.A.D.D., each School System, to the county fund and the state and fund drug and alchol awareness to be tought all across north carolina And much much more. If it goes private where is all this money going to come from and if you think we have a deficit now, wait till all of these programs need money. TAXES. Just think.

  • davidbh61255 Dec 21, 2010

    It is very difficult to get a job there or be on the board!!

  • rroadrunner99 Dec 21, 2010

    I think it need's to be changed from the way it is now. There is no way that a county liquor sales business is worth the money that is being paid out to the people operating it that was shown on the investigation on TV. The state either need's to make it a private buiness, and sell right's to operate it in the state, or make very large drastic salary reduction's in the ABC board's. Also the State of North Carolina need's to take over control of these board's and cut out this county buddy-buddy system of operation.

  • RMC10 Dec 21, 2010

    They do generate a lot of money to the counties - just check on the ABCs' paper bags they're handing out right now. There is a county-by-county breakdown. Wake County is the highest.

  • me2you Dec 21, 2010