Editorial: Now that’s more like it

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Rowan-Kannapolis ABC Board demonstrated Monday that members understand what local government expects and needs from the ABC system ó to the tune of $211,000.
That’s how much in additional profit the board turned over to be distributed among the local governments in this area. Originally, the board had budgeted $30,000 in profit distributions for 2008-09. By spring, it had turned over $70,000. Now, after public scrutiny of how the group spends its money and how the system operates, the total has come to $281,000. That’s more like it.
The total is still well short of what the Rowan County ABC Board used to generate in its heyday. When David Graham Jr. retired as general manager of the system in 1991, he reported nearly $18 million in profits had been turned over to the county since 1950. That averages out to some $438,800 a year.
Graham operated in a different era, but his proud record emphasizes an important point. In addition to controlling the sale of alcohol, the ABC system is expected to produce revenue for local and state government. Somehow the ABC Board drifted away from that mission in recent years. It merged into the Rowan-Kannapolis ABC Board and expanded into new territory ó all things that may position it well for the future. In the process, though, the revenue-generating role got pushed aside, at least as far as local government goes.
County commissioners have helped the ABC Board get back on course. Had the county been in less of a pinch for funds, these questions might not have come up. But in turning over every stone in search of revenue, Commissioner Tina Hall came upon an ABC operation that didn’t appear to be producing like it used to.
Marching orders for the ABC Board and its general manager are clear. Enforce the ABC laws. Run an efficient system. And produce profit for local and state government. If the ABC Board didn’t understand that before, it certainly does now.