ROCKINGHAM- The City Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution in support of keeping the current ABC system for the sale of liquor in North Carolina.
Discussion on House Bill 971 was first brought up by City Attorney Benny Sharpe.
The bill, filed on April 25, essentially strikes through much of the existing law regulating alcoholic beverages and eliminates local ABC boards. The following day, it was referred to the Committee on Alcoholic Beverage Control, state records show.
“There is a big movement to privatize the sale of liquor,” he said. “We’ve been running ABC boards in North Carolina very successfully for many years and we don’t think they need to change — if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
Mayor Steve Morris brought a formal resolution for consideration noting: “It’s a core function of government to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare; given the unique nature of liquor as well as it’s potential to do harm, state and local governments are in the best position to balance access and convenience with control.”
Morris said there are 168 local ABC boards in North Carolina and they currently operate 433 stores statewide while employing more than 2,870 people.
According to Morris the bill allows for the potential of 1,500 stores statewide if it passes both houses of the General Assembly.
Councilman Bennett Deane pointed out that city council was only making a recommendation to the legislature in the form of a resolution and that the legislature has the final say in this matter. Deane also voiced concerns over liquor getting into the hands of minors.
“I think it would be so much more easily accessible to minors if it were sold in retail establishments versus state-run ABC stores,” he said.
It was also noted that this potential change would likely take away a great deal of revenue from local governing bodies.
“That’s income municipalities depend upon,” Deane said.
According to Assistant City Manager John Massey, locally that would come to $133,000 per year.
Following a full reading of the resolution, the council voted unanimously in favor of its adoption.