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ABC Board concerned over possible privatization

By Benjamin Cohn

Weaverville – The Town of Weaverville’s ABC Board met Wednesday morning to discuss an amendment to this year’s budget, the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and potentially-disruptive legislation now working its way through the state legislature.

Wednesday morning’s final item and the most far-reaching topic was the existence of a (relatively) new bill in the state legislature that would, among other things, dissolve the assets of any existing local ABC Boards and instead implement a private licensure model for the sale and control of alcohol.

ABC Board Chairman Robert Chason spoke first. “There is a bill, it’s not in committee yet, but there is a bill, House Bill 971,” he began. “It is a bill to modernize the licensure model for alcohol control, i.e., privatization of alcohol sales in the state.

“This bill, and it will go through committee and back and forth, we all know that it will survive, to get to an actual vote. It basically says that we [Weaverville ABC Board] will dissolve all our operations by January 1, 2020.”
Town Attorney Jennifer Jackson remarked how “quick” that process would have to be.

“That would be an extremely difficult process if we started today,” Chason said. “So, there’s no discussion in the bill as to how the debt would be handled, real estate, assets.

“There is some discussion, I think, that once everything was liquidated, I think I read somewhere that … the monies would go to the local school system, capital expenses for any public schools in that jurisdiction. No provision for debts or liabilities.

“It allows for the sale of licenses for private sale. Basically, this means that if you’re satisfied with the current ABC system,” said Chason, “I suggest you write your representative and voice your concern. I have.”

In actions taken earlier in the meeting, Finance Officer for Weaverville’s ABC Store Nola Kaufman introduced the brief amendment to the 2018-2019 fiscal year’s budget, which would allocate monies to cover some overages.
Said Kaufman, “We have one budget amendment for the fiscal year ending 2019. We have to decrease contingencies [totaling] $6,920, increase outside services [totaling] $2,656, retirement fund [totaling] $726, repairs and maintenance [totaling] $3,111, store and office supplies [totaling] $427 to correct our 2018-2019 budget.”
Chason clarified that the proposed amendment is, “… not increasing the overall budget, only moving it from contingencies to other departments.” Kaufman confirmed that the change was designed to move “some money around to cover where we went over in a couple of categories.”

A motion to approve the budget amendment was proposed and passed unanimously.

The next item for discussion was the approval of a contract from local accounting firm Burleson & Earley to render a yearly financial audit. Kaufman explained that the firm “has quoted us [a price of] $8,150, which is an increase of $275 over last year, to do our yearly fiscal year-end audit.”

After a brief discussion, the board approved unanimously a motion to approve the contract. General Manager for Weaverville’s ABC Store Tony Rogers then spoke about some items he added to the proposed budget for next fiscal year.

Rogers lobbied for the inclusion of upgrades to the store’s security system, including three additional cameras. He cited the existence of blind spots within the store as reasons to improve its security. Other expenditures proposed by Rogers included a quote of nearly $1,300 from Morris Shelton to “install new vinyl flooring,” “install [a] new baseboard,” “paint both bathrooms” and “install two new light fixtures” within the ABC Store, according to the invoice.

He suggested a further $1,300 be paid to Ducky Ducts Inc. on Stoney Knob Heights “to clean and sanitize all accessible ductwork serving the two air handlers” inside the store. According to Rogers and Kaufman, the ductwork hasn’t been cleaned in the nine years since the store’s been open.

The board then voted to set time for a public hearing during its regularly-scheduled 
June 5th meeting.

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Clint Parker

Publisher & Editor Weaverville Tribune

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