Commissioners expected to get details on ABC finances today
By Jessie Burchette
Rowan-Kannapolis ABC system records on salaries and credit cards will be delivered to county commissioners today.
Terry Osborne, general manager of the Alcoholic Beverage Control system, said Wednesday it was never his intent to withhold the records from commissioners, but a matter of having time to get the material together.
On Monday, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to delay a presentation by the ABC Board on its operations until the requested records are produced.
Osborne also backed away from his assertion that he could not provide the records until instructed to by his board. Osborne said he meant to say he needed to tell them about the request.
The Salisbury Post has also requested the records, along with additional information on ABC spending. Osborne said that information will also be provided.
Also on Wednesday, John Hudson, attorney for the ABC Board, contacted County Attorney Jay Dees to ask for a special meeting with the Board of Commissioners. He said two of the three ABC Board members will be out of town on June 1, the date of the next regular commissioners’ meeting.
Carl Ford, commissioners chairman, said Wednesday he doesn’t plan to call a special meeting. Ford said the board already has budget workshops and other committee sessions upcoming in the next week.
Ford and other commissioners met individually Wednesday with Ken Argo, the Kannapolis member of the ABC Board.
Argo said Wednesday evening he asked for the meetings to get acquainted with the commissioners. He said he regretted that the ABC board wasn’t able to make its presentation Monday night.
Argo also said he wasn’t aware of the records request until shortly before the commissioners’ meeting Monday night.
After leaving the meeting, he said, the board members discussed the situation. “They told us to let the lawyers talk to the lawyers,” Argo said.
Over the past several weeks, Commissioner Tina Hall, the county’s liaison to the ABC board, had sought agreement to have an efficiency committee from the state ABC office review operations in an effort to increase profits and distributions to the county and municipalities.
Last month, the ABC Board voted unanimously against seeking an efficiency study.
When Hall raised the efficiency review issue with commissioners at the May 4 meeting, a majority of the board preferred to hear from the ABC Board on its operations and reasons for sparse profits.
During the 1990s, the system turned over annual amounts ranging from $159,000 to $372,000 for distribution. Since 2000, the ABC system had no distributions two years and payments of $10,000 each for two years. The largest distribution in the past nine years came in 2000 with $89,000.
Commissioners agreed to hear the presentation at the May 18 meeting. On May 12, the clerk to the board sent a request to Osborne for the salary of each employee, any raises or bonuses paid in the last two years and a detailed accounting of any and all credit card statements for the past two years.
Dees, the county’s attorney, said in an e-mail all the information sought is public and anyone can request the records.
Gus Andrews, an ABC board member, told commissioners Monday night that by law they had to provide some of the records, but not others.