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Northampton opposes ABC privatization

JACKSON – Liquor sales in North Carolina shouldn’t become privatized. That’s the position of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners who recently passed a resolution to show their opposition to privatization.

The issue, which had been tabled at the commissioners’ previous meeting to give them more time to research the matter, was brought before the board again on June 17 by the ABC Board General Director for Northampton County, Kathy Gephart.

“The Northampton County ABC system is definitely against privatization. It will take our jobs away. We do not want to see that happen,” she explained.

NC House Bill 971 is a proposal that, if passed, would eliminate local ABC boards across the state and instead privatize sales by allowing any retail business to obtain a license permit to sell liquor. There would initially be a statewide base cap of 1,500 permits.

Information distributed to the Board of Commissioners explained details about how privatization would affect North Carolina. Local ABC Boards operate 433 stores throughout the state, and provide employment to 2,870 people. Currently, North Carolina is ranked 44th lowest in alcohol consumption per capita and 7th highest in revenue per capita.

According to studies by North Carolina’s Program Evaluation Division (PED), liquor consumption is estimated to increase by 20 percent if privatization happens. Prices for those alcoholic beverages are also predicted to rise by 15.7 percent.

The information also suggested that privatization would benefit heavy drinkers most of all, and called that a detriment to public health and safety.

“On behalf of the Northampton County ABC Board, I am asking for your support by adopting a resolution to oppose privatization,” Gephart concluded her brief presentation.

Commissioner Kelvin Edwards thanked Gephart for her information, and said he was a “firm believer” that privatization was unnecessary. He quickly motioned to adopt the proposed resolution.

His motion was seconded by Commissioner Joyce Buffaloe, and the vote was unanimously in favor.

The ABC Board was also on the evening’s agenda a second time as the commissioners considered a new appointment to the ABC Board. The decision was required to be a joint one with county mayors also getting a chance to motion and vote. Only Conway Mayor Tommy Barrett and Seaboard Mayor Geraldine Langford were in attendance.

ABC Board Chair Ted Sumner explained that Thomas Vincent’s term expired in December and he did not want to be reappointed for another term.

“We’re requesting that you appoint Daryl Williams to take his place,” Sumner continued.

Williams is a Northampton citizen who is retired from working in the state prison system. He currently serves as the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce Director.

Board of Commissioners Chair Charles Tyner stated that they wanted to receive applications from people interested in serving on any county board before appointing someone.

Gephart stepped in to explain that Williams had previously submitted an application the last time a position was open on the ABC Board, but he had not been selected then.

Mayor Barrett motioned to accept Williams’ appointment to the Board, and Edwards seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.

Tyner again reiterated that any Northampton citizens interested in serving on county boards should submit an application for future consideration.