WEST JEFFERSON — West Jefferson ABC Store Board Chairman Haskell McGuire gave his quarterly report to the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen at their monthly meeting Monday, Aug. 5. McGuire spoke about the store’s earnings and tax money going to the town, as well as Senate Bill 290’s effect on ABC stores moving forward.
McGuire reported on the fourth fiscal quarter, comprised of April, May and June, announcing a total sales number of $492,377. This represented a 5.6 percent increase from the same timeframe one year earlier, or $26,131. April represented the largest increase of the three months, up 15.3 percent, while June was the lowest with only a 0.2 percent bump.
McGuire also announced a check for $17,500 has been delivered to the town from the quarter.
The attention then turned to SB290, which was signed into effect by Gov. Roy Cooper July 29. The bill, originally introduced by Sen. Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston) in March, was believed by McGuire to be another push against the privatization of ABC stores in North Carolina. McGuire said the 21-page bill featured many changes to the ABC System and North Carolina distilleries, but noted three points of interest it will change when it takes effect Sept. 1.
The first was the authorization of ABC stores to do in-store liquor tastings. McGuire said the decision to do so would be on the shoulders of individual stores, and that the West Jefferson location has yet to seriously consider doing any. McGuire added that it was a possibility down the road, but that there were more pressing matters to worry about now.
McGuire also mentioned how SB290 will restrict the creation of any new ABC systems. The bill states that new ABC Boards cannot be created in counties which already have one, and would have to merge should a new ABC store be approved via election. McGuire said the board believes this will limit, if not altogether, halt the creation of new ABC stores, but they are in talks with town attorney Jak Reeves to understand the letter of the law.
The final point McGuire brought up is Part XX of the bill, which creates a delivery service permit for ABC stores. The permit will allow the store to deliver liquor to local establishments, which McGuire said would be useful for restaurants which are too busy to send someone over to the store.
SB290 passed through the N.C. House of Representatives July 11 with an 86-28 approval vote, and then through the Senate with a 31-10 vote July 16. Rep. Ray Russell (D-Boone) voted in favor of the bill, while Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) voted against it. Ashe Post & Times has reached out to Russell and Ballard, but they have yet to comment as of presstime.