Commission wants ABC Board to seek efficiency study
By Jessie Burchette
On a split-vote the Rowan County Board of Commissioners has agreed to send a letter to the Rowan-Kannapolis ABC Board asking for an efficiency study by a state panel.
The same letter will also request the ABC Board reschedule its presentation to commissioners on the system’s operations and profits.
ABC Board members and General Manager Terry Osborne were no-shows Monday evening, the specified time for a presentation delayed on May 18. Commissioners voted to delay the presentation when requested information had not been provided.
Commissioner Tina Hall, Chairman Carl Ford and Commissioner Chad Mitchell supported sending the letter. Vice Chairman Jon Barber and Commissioner Raymond Coltrain did not. Coltrain said he wanted to hear the ABC Board’s presentation before considering a request for an efficiency study.
Hall, who serves as liaison to the ABC Board, noted the county can’t ask for the efficiency review; only the ABC board can.
She noted the release of credit-card statements had raised more questions.
The statements included thousands of dollars in charges for restaurants and hotels in North Carolina and other states as well as repeat trips to Washington, D.C.
Hall said the information with the numerous trips raises troubling questions. “What percent of the time is Mr. Osborne in town to manage the ABC stores?”
Hall had requested that Osborne meet with commissioners Monday to answer questions.
In e-mails to Hall, ABC Board Chairman Marny Hendrick wrote that Osborne would not be available to meet with commissioners. He later wrote that Osborne was busy overseeing preparations for the annual audit and was not available. Two board members were out of town on previously scheduled business.
Hendrick indicated the board would respond to questions when it meets with commissioners.
Hall raised several other issues, distributing copies of a state ABC report that shows Rowan ABC ranks 127th out of 157 systems in efficiency ó percent of profit related to sales.
With almost $8 million in sales, the system had $317,000 in profits, or a profit percent of 3.72 percent.
The next lowest percentage for a system with $8 million or more in sales was Orange County, which had $9.6 million in sales and profits of $900,000, or a profit percent of 7 percent.
Among neighboring systems, Mooresville is ranked 20th, with sales of $6 million and profits of $900,000, a 12 percent profit margin. Concord ranks 61st, with sales of $7.2 million and profits of $807,000, a profit margin of 8.7 percent.
In each case, the profit figures are before distribution to counties. The ABC Board votes quarterly on turning over money to the county for distribution shared by the county and 10 municipalities.
Citing various state laws related to ABC operations, Hall said the Board of Commissioners appoints the entire ABC Board, also appoints the chairman, sets the pay for board members and has a role in any money borrowed by ABC.
She suggested commissioners may not be exercising needed oversight.