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ABC Board turning over $211,000 to county, municipalities

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.com
After a spat with Rowan County commissioners over profits, the Rowan-Kannapolis ABC System is turning over $211,000 for distribution to local governments.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted unanimously Monday evening to give all of the remaining profits from sales in the fiscal year ending June 30 to the county.
Combined with $70,000 distributed earlier in the year, the ABC system has provided $281,000 this year ó its largest distribution in 15 years.
County Commissioner Tina Hall, who led the push for greater profits and distribution, thanked the board.
“This is a huge step in the right direction,” she said.
At the outset of the discussion, outgoing ABC Board member Gus Andrews wanted to use most of the money to pay off the system’s remaining debt, which amounts to around $168,000.
Andrews made a motion to do so, but failed to get a second.
Board member Ken Argo made the case to share the money with the county and municipalities. Argo said at the current pace, the ABC system’s debt will be paid off within 18 months.
Argo heaped praise on Andrews and Chairman Marny Hendrick for making the ABC operation profitable during a multi-year expansion.
“The business was totally in the tank,” Andrews said, adding that he would like to leave with all the debt paid. But he relented and withdrew his motion.
The distribution formula approved by the N.C. General Assembly when the merged Rowan-Kannapolis system was created in 2004 sets the distribution as follows: the county gets 40 percent; Kannapolis and Salisbury each get 22.5 percent; the remaining eight municipalities share 15 percent based on population.
ABC officials acknowledged that while their records will show the entire $281,000 as a distribution in fiscal year 2009, the county’s records will likely record the new payment of $211,000 in the current fiscal year ó 2010 ó since the county’s books are closed on 2009.
The system had a record $9.3 million in sales with overall profits of $371,000 before $90,000 was spent on law enforcement.
Argo pledged to continue to work to increase profits, saying the focus must be on reducing expenses.
In other matters, the board:
– Approved a one-year extension of the Oak Avenue Mall store in Kannapolis at the current annual rent of $13,639.
– Reported the two newest stores in Kannapolis ó at Gateway Center and Renaissance Square ó both operated at a loss. Combined, the stores went into the red almost $50,000.
– Approved a one-year heating and air conditioning service contract with J. Newton Cohen Inc. for ABC stores, including filter replacement, for $2,585. General Manager Terry Osborne said this is the first system-wide contract. Previously, individual store managers have called companies as needed.
– Renewed the contract with N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement to provide additional enforcement and education for the local system at $25,000 for one year.
– Discussed the ebb and flow of liquor sales, with consumer taste and spending changing with the economy. Osborne noted that Crown Royal sales have plummeted nationwide by 37 percent while demand for less costly products such as UV Vodka is soaring.

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