Argo: ABC supports 5% increase across board

Published 11:28 pm Thursday, April 27, 2017

At Tuesday’s Children’s Policy Council meeting, the ABC Board’s Dean Argo told the council members that the ABC board supports a 5 percent increase on sales of alcohol across the board rather than individual legislation for counties on the increase.

He said counties such as Marshall and Calhoun already have passed legislation.

This year, there are bills affecting Autauga, Chilton, Elmore, Lee and Montgomery counties proposed.

Argo explained that a statewide proposal would be better.

He said that what would happen without a statewide increase would be that, say if someone lives in Andalusia and the county had an additional alcohol tax, but a neighboring county didn’t, that people would drive there to purchase their alcohol.

Argo said it is already happening in Calhoun County and that people are driving to St. Clair County.

The concern is that people are more likely to pop the top and drink and drive.

Argo said they have spoken with the District Attorney’s Association and told them that they would not oppose a statewide bill, but that hasn’t gotten anywhere because some counties would opt out.

In March, the ABC Board voted unanimously to work to increase markups on wholesale liquor and wine and retail prices on liquor.

The proposal is for a 35 percent markup on prices, which is a 5 percentage point increase from the current 30 percent.

That money would be used to aid the court system and district attorneys’ budgets statewide.

There has been a 35-day public comment period that ends on May 5.

That increased markup is expected to generate an additional $8.2 million in revenue to the general fund with some $6 million of it to go to the DA’s offices and other $2.2 million for the unified court system in fiscal year 2018, which starts on Oct. 1.

Argo said they wanted the district attorneys to have the resources they need, and that the random increased from counties would create an accounting nightmare.