Chris Berendt Staff Writer
October 2, 2013
A historic presentation to the City Council was made Tuesday by the Clinton Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) board, whose skyrocketing sales in 2012-13 translated into local donations in excess of $170,000 including more than $130,000 given to the City of Clinton.
Every October, the city of Clinton receives a little supplemental income from the sale of spirits to assist government operations, with an annual donation from the ABC Board reflecting sales proceeds from the local store on Southeast Boulevard for the previous year.
“We love everybody at this City Council, but there’s nobody we love more than Shurley McCullen,” Mayor Lew Starling said in introducing the Clinton ABC Board’s chairwoman. “She is a wonderful citizen, she is a wonderful servant and does the city’s work. And when she comes, she always brings money.”
Starling also recognized ABC Board members Perry Solice and Dempsey Craig. McCullen said the board appreciated the Council’s gratitude and trust.
“We wanted to thank you for your support and trust,” said McCullen. “We know you trust us because you don’t bother us. If you were worried about it, you’d be there checking on it.”
McCullen credited her fellow ABC Board members, Barbara Bailey, who handles day-to-day operations, as well as the clerks who man the store, including Myles Carter, David Howell and Wanda Hinson. “Without them, the money probably wouldn’t be here,” said McCullen.
And, this year, it was a lot of money.
“We had a great year,” she said. “I think it’s our best year yet. One year we were a little off, but we had a great year. I don’t know how they do it. It’s astonishing.”
Solice began the check presentations, giving a check in the amount of $6,138 to the Clinton Police Department and Chief Jay Tilley.
“Like the mayor stated, when he sees the ABC Board it’s kind of like Christmas in October,” said Solice, who thanked Tilley and his department for everything they do, noting the work they do not only for the City of Clinton on an everyday basis, but the police escorts they provide for ABC employees.
McCullen asked Craig to present Starling with the big check, in the amount of $131,200 for the City of Clinton. Craig said the ABC board was giving Clinton City Schools $32,800 this year, and was happy to be able to present the largest checks the board has seen.
“It’s our pleasure to present this to you,” said Craig. “We had a fabulous year, like Shurley said. It is a tribute to a lot that goes on at the store. This is probably the best year we’ve had and we’re so privileged to be able to give back to the city.”
In 2010, local distribution checks tallied $112,000 to the city and another $5,000 to the Clinton Police Department. It was the largest to the Council in recent memory. That was followed up in 2011 by a check of $99,200 to the city and the $5,000 for police. In light of changes being made across the state, McCullen said she was happy with that and expressed her hope donations could continue — but was not so sure how big they would be.
She, like others, shared mounting concerns of how 2010 sweeping legislation that sought to modernize the ABC system would affect the ABC Commission in Clinton and other locations across the state. The legislation implemented new guidelines and more stringent standards encompassing budget procedures and ethics policies, and required the board to hire a new employee to oversee finances.
The local ABC board dealt with the transition and, with last year’s donation to the City of Clinton of more than $110,000 almost in line with 2010’s large donation, quelled those concerns.
Tuesday’s record-shattering presentation shut the door on them for good.
Even through tough times for the ABC system, brought in part by shady dealings, nepotism and favors in other municipalities in the state, McCullen said the City Council has been trusting of Clinton’s local ABC board. A main proponent, Starling has repeatedly touted the board’s efforts and the contribution they make to the community through sales.
“We have a debt of gratitude to these board members, who do this day in and day out. They worry about it all the time and they make sure that everything is going well. You read all kinds of stuff in the paper about other cities with their ABC issues — not in the City of Clinton, and it’s because of these people here and the good employees at the ABC store.”
“And we’ll see you next year,” said McCullen.
According to the N.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, total income brought in at the Clinton ABC store continues its steady growth over the past decade along with the local distribution of proceeds, which after a dip a couple years ago, is peaking this year.
During the 2011-12 year, the most recent numbers available through N.C. ABC, the total income at the Clinton store was $1,683,978, including liquor sales to the public and to mixed beverage permitees. Total expenses were $1,118,434, including operating expenses and cost of goods sold, while total taxes stood at $387,784. After all taxes and expenses, total distributions were $144,144, include those to the Council, school board and police.
That total income was higher than the $1,565,207 in 2011, which itself was a rise from the $1,557,633 in 2010 and 2009’s nearly $1.5 million. While the total income has been offset by similarly rising expenses and taxes, local donations had ascended ever year until a couple years ago, when local donations went from $145,100 in 2009-2010 to $129,000 in 2010-11.
After rising again to $144,144 last year — $110,400 to the city, $27,600 to the schools and $6,144 to law enforcement — it continues the climb this year. While the sales figures were not available, the local donations in excess of $170,000 would indicate record-breaking numbers.
The City of Clinton, its Police Department and city schools have regularly benefited from the ABC donations. In 2009, the ABC Board made a total distribution of $130,900, including a check in the amount of $100,000 to the City Council. In 2008, the Council accepted a check for $97,840 as part of total distribution of $128,440. In 2007, Council was given a check for $96,800 of the $126,000 total proceeds from local ABC sales given out locally.
By comparison, in 2001, the total income at the Clinton ABC store was $1,048,412, 60 percent less than where it stood in 2012. The total expenses tallied $787,262 (42 percent less) and taxes stood at $225,315 (72 percent less). The total local distribution was $55,000 in 2001. That number grew to $100,000 just four years later, in 2005, and now stands at $170,138 in 2013, more than triple the amount donated 12 years ago.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.