Tryon against ABC boards merging

Published 10:36 pm Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Town approves resolution against state’s proposal 


TRYON—The Town of Tryon approved a resolution this week in support of the state’s current Alcoholic Beverage Control system. 

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Tryon Town Council met Tuesday and approved a resolution that supports the town keeping the system in the hands of local boards and the state government.  

Council heard from town manager Zach Ollis, who said the current control system of the sale of alcohol allows for the state to control alcohol, but there have been rumors about making that privatized.  

“This resolution shows your support to maintain the control in its current form,” Ollis said.  

Ollis said he will send the resolution to the state on behalf of the board of commissioners and the Tryon ABC Store. 

The notion that the ABC form could change was first brought up locally by the Town of Columbus last month.  

Columbus officials said the state is considering bills to either privatize ABC boards or to make multiple ABC boards in a county merge.  

There are two ABC stores in Polk County. The town of Columbus operates one store and the town of Tryon operates its own store. Individual ABC boards run each store, and the towns can use the revenue for specific purposes.  

The proposed state bill says that by June 30, 2021, to ensure that no county has multiple ABC systems, all ABC systems located in a county with two or more ABC systems shall merge in accordance with the requirement set forth in G.S. 18B-703.  

The bill is proposing multiple ABC boards in a county merge, not that the actual stores merge.  

Columbus Town Manager Tim Barth said there are two changes at the General Assembly that would have a negative impact on the town’s ability to regulate alcohol sales and collect revenue generated by liquor sales.  

Columbus Council decided to table approving the resolutions last month so they can find out more information, including how the profits would be split and what the towns can do with those profits. Council also wants to know who would appoint members to the board and whether or not that would then be a county decision or remain with the towns.  

Columbus is expected to discuss the issue again at its meeting on Thursday.  

Following is the resolution Tryon Town Council approved on Tuesday:  


Resolution in support of the current ABC control system for the sale of liquor 

Whereas, the citizens of the Town of Tryon voted to permit the sale of liquor through the establishment of an ABC board, which is a part of the North Carolina’s control system for the sale of spirituous liquors; 

Whereas, North Carolina is a “control” state and private retail liquor stores are prohibited; 

Whereas, the General Assembly’s nonpartisan Program Evaluation Division (PED) was directed to examine whether other systems for alcohol beverage control, including privatized systems, are appropriate for North Carolina, specially to include the State of Washington, which recently changed its beverage control system from state government control of wholesale and retail control of spirituous liquor to a licensure model;  

Whereas, the PED report, “Changing How North Carolina Controls Liquor Sales Has Operational, Regulatory, and Financial Ramifications,” released on Feb. 11, 2019, did not recommend privatization, found that among the southeastern states, NC collects the most revenue per gallon, has the lowest outlet density and has the second lowest per capita consumption, and the PED expects retail liquor consumption to increase by 20 percent with privatization.  

Whereas, for fiscal year ending 2018, local ABC boards distributed $430,635,861: County-city distributions $80 million; state general fund $323 million; local alcohol education/treatment $13 million; local law enforcement $8.8 million; rehabilitation services $5 million; operation of ABC Commission/Warehouse $17.7 million.  

Whereas, North Carolina is unique as it allow communities to vote to establish local ABC board for the sale of liquor in their communities, with liquor profits distributed back to those communities, thereby reducing the need to increase local property taxes.  

Whereas, the citizens of the Town of Tryon, in voting to permit the operation of ABC stores, did not vote to allow spirits to be sold in private retail liquor stores and did not vote to allow spirits to be sold in retail outlets where beer and wine are sold;  

Whereas, no state funds are spent to distribute or sell liquor as the state and local operation of the ABC system is receipt supported;  

Whereas, of the 50 states, North Carolina ranks 44th lowest in consumption per capita and 7th highest in revenue per capita and NC’s ABC system accomplishes both revenue and public health, welfare and safety objectives;  

Whereas, when Washington State privatized its liquor system the number of retail outlet increased from 328 to over 1400, hours of sale/week increased from 73 to 140 hours, and Washington State received only $30.75 million from auctioning off the rights to apply for retail spirits permits at 167 stores;  

Whereas, privatization will result in a marked increase in the number of outlets, longer hours of sale, greater advertising and more promotion and significantly more consumption; and the 9,000 outlets in NC that sell beer/wine off-premises could be permitted to sell liquor in a privatized system;  

Whereas, local revenue from ABC stores operations is important to the town/city/county; 

Whereas, local control over the sale of liquor is an important function.  

Now Therefore, be it resolved, that the Town of Tryon desires to retain North Carolina’s current control system for the sale of liquor and believes that privatization of liquor will lead to many adverse effects.