(KCPW News) Following an audit released last year that uncovered widespread mismanagement within the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Governor Gary Herbert says there will be changes. During his monthly press conference on KUED today, Herbert said he’s considering several options, including placing the DABC under the control of the Department of Commerce.
“I can tell you this. What we have now is not acceptable. There needs to be a change. The change needs to be when it comes to oversight and accountability,” said Herbert. “Whether that can be done by expanding the commission itself from the five members to maybe seven, that’s a proposal that’s out there that I’m looking at also.”
Republican Representative Ryan Wilcox is proposing privatizing retail sales of liquor during this legislative session. Herbert says while privatization is an option worth discussing, the state would stand to lose the approximately $80 million in year profit from liquor sales.
“I’m not sure you can just translate that back to say ‘well, let’s just raise the tax up.’ You’d have to have an 86 percent tax rate, which I don’t know that sends a good message to the marketplace that taxes are rising in Utah, the best place for business,” said Herbert. “So, there are issues with privatization that are worth consideration, and there’s some that cause me pause.”
Herbert said he isn’t yet ready to endorse a solution, and he suggested the DABC isn’t a “big, broken problem.” However he added there is a perception of a lack of oversight within the division. Meanwhile, a DABC review committee convened by state Democratic leaders in November will present its final report tomorrow.