Out of Control Policy Blog

State wonít let go of booze

From the Montgomery Advertiser:

[Alcoholic Beverage Control Board administrator Emory] Folmar, appointed by Gov. Bob Riley in June, said if the ABC Board closed its 140 retail stores next year it would owe about $19.3 million in long-term lease payments. He also said he was concerned about what privatization would mean to the 500 state employees who work in the stores.

Attorney General Bill Pryor, who chaired the subcommittee on Tuesday, said Folmar's comments make it unlikely that ABC store privatization will be one of the commission's recommendations.

OK, now that selling booze has been reaffirmed as an important government function, can we expect any changes to the system?

Folmar said a more immediate step to improve efficiency would be to add an automated conveyor system in the ABC Board's Montgomery warehouse. He estimated the cost of a suitable system at about $2 million. For now, he said, every case of liquor is loaded by hand onto flat carts and then onto trucks.

"We've got the most inefficient system I've ever seen in my life," Folmar said. "With (automation), I can reduce warehouse personnel from 41 to 20."

Folmar said no state employees would lose their jobs, but the positions would be eliminated through attrition. He said that would happen fairly quickly because turnover is high.

But think of all the jobs that could be created if the system were made even less efficient. Perhaps ABC could start by getting rid of those flat carts, that way the department could hire more people to carry the liquor to the trucks. Might want to also get rid of the boxes so more workers would be needed to carry each bottle separately. Imagine the economic boom.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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