Legislators look at upgrading how alcohol is distributed in Mississippi

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 7:40 AM CST
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - State legislators are discussing the future of the Alcoholic Beverage Control office. Should the state upgrade the facilities and software, or should they privatize the industry? Both options will cost the state millions and greatly impact liquor store owners in the state.

Department of Revenue Commissioner Chris Graham presented a few options this week that the state will consider moving forward, and that presentation made a few liquor store owners here in South Mississippi happy.

”I was very happy to see that the Department of Revenue director went in front of the legislature and said we need to upgrade the ABC, upgrade the software, upgrade pick lines, the merchandising for it,” said Fort Bayou Wine and Spirits Owner Marta Williams. “It was real important for us because we have had a terrible time as you know, with shortages across the state.”

The thing is, all the options are going to cost the state money. Privatizing would cost the state more than $90 million in tax revenue a year. Keeping ABC under the Department of Revenue and upgrading the warehouse facility and software would likely cost $40 million.

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That is still the preference for the owner of Fort Bayou Wine and Spirits, who thinks some of the tax revenue generated through liquor sales should be dictated towards solving the problem.

”I’d like to see some of that $90 million put in to upgrading the ABC system,” said Williams. “And if they do that, and upgrade their software and facilities, and they give better wages to the people who work there, you will see a much better ABC run, and there would be no need for the big box stores to come in here.”

Senator Brice Wiggins doesn’t expect a decision to be made this legislative session, but instead, knows this is a topic for the years ahead.

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