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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Initiative 1183

Liquor sales up in July

OLYMPIA — After dropping during the first month of private liquor sales, the amount of liquor sold and the taxes the state got for it went up in July.

The state Revenue Department said sales were up about 15 percent this July compared with July 2011, and sales for the second quarter of this year are up about 11 percent over last.

Liquor sales took a big jump in May as the deadline imposed by Initiative 1183 for switching from the state monopoly to private sales approached. Bars and restaurants in particular stocked up against the coming change.

Sales dropped about 9 percent in June, the first month the law  took effect, compared to the previous June.

In all, Washington consumers bought 10.6 million liters of spirits for the second quarter, an increase of about 1.2 million liters. (For folks who don't do “metric”, that's about 2.8 million gallons total and an increase of about 317,000 gallons.)

The state also collected $68 million in taxes and fees on liquor, an increase of about 15 percent. Prices were higher in July than in pre I-1183 days, but they did come down sligthly from June.

It's too soon to tell what kind of trend we're developing, the Revenue Department said.

Liquor store licenses awarded

OLYMPIA — The rights to operate Washington's state-owned liquor stores have all been auctioned off, at prices ranging from about $750,000 for a store in Tacoma to just under $50,000 for a store in Spokane.  The state will collect $30.7 million from the auction.

The state closed the auction Friday after a flurry of last-minute bids for the rights to the licenses at 167 stores, and winning bids were announced this morning. The state owns the license, but not the buildings they occupy. New owners will have to negotiate leases with landlords and purchase inventory. If they can't come to a deal on a lease, they can re-sell their license or relocate within a mile of the current location.

Winning bids for two Spokane-area stores went to Ranvir Nagra of Veradale. The other Spokane-area stores went to bidders who didn't receive any other licenses in the county.

The liquor store at 2401 W. Wellesley drew the smallest bid in the state, at $49,600, and the store in the Manito Shopping Center at 3017 S. Grand was second at $50,100. Top bid for a Spokane-area store was $300,100 for the Spokane Valley store at University City.

The state auctioned the licenses to its liquor stores because voters approved Initiative 1183 last November, which gets the state out of wholesale and retail liquor operations. Under the initiative, most private liquor stores will have to have at least 10,000 square feet of floor space, but the owner of a license from a former state store can operate in a smaller facility.

State liquor monopoly: All in or all out?

OLYMPIA – It’s apparently all in, or all out, for Washington state’s involvement in the liquor business.

After studying two proposals to take over the state’s liquor distribution system, the Office of Financial Management is calling for a pass on both. Voters could still order that system sold, and remove the state’s involvement in wholesale and retail liquor sales, by passing Initiative 1183.

If that measure fails, the system stays as is, at least for a while.

In a letter Wednesday to the Liquor Control Board, OFM Director Marty Brown said the two proposals from private companies to take over the liquor warehousing system “do not represent ‘net positive benefit’ to the state or local governments.” Because of that, OFM officials say, state law doesn’t allow the board to accept either proposal….

To read the rest of this post, go inside the blog.

OFM: Pass on both bids for liquor warehouse

OLYMPIA — After studying two proposals for taking over the state's liquor distribution system, the state Office of Financial Management is calling for a pass on both.

In a letter to the Liquor Control Board, OFM Director Marty Brown says the proposal's “do not represent 'net positive benefit' to the state or local governments.”

Selling the state's liquor warehouse has been a popular proposal in the Legislature, where many members believe the state has no business in the liquor business. Some budget proposals in the last session counted on revenue from the sale of the warehouse to help close the gap between expected revenues and scheduled expenses, but critics questioned whether the revenue estimates were realistic.

Opposition to state control of liquor has generated three ballot initiatives in the last two years, the most recent being Initiative 1183 on the Nov. 8 ballot and would get the state out of the wholesale and retail end of liquor sales

Before I-1183 was filed, the Legislature passed a law requiring a study of the possible financial benefits of selling or leasing the state's warehouse and distribution system, while maintaining its retail stores.  Companies were invited to submit bids, and OFM was directed to examine them and make a recommendation to the Liquor Control Board, which has ultimate authority over the state's booze business.

Only two companies bid. . .

To read more of this post, go inside the blog.

More booze outlets, but ‘not the Wild West’

OLYMPIA — Washington would go from having the second fewest liquor stores per capita to the fifth fewest if voters approver a ballot measure this fall, a new study concludes.

Initiative 1183 would likely result in a four-fold increase in the  number of retail liquor stores, the Office of Financial Management has said, and an increase of about 5 percent in total liquor sales. That would mean there'd be about one liquor store for every 4,709 persons, rather than one store for every 20,502 persons as it is now, the Washington Policy Center study concludes. That would be fewer stores per capita than any other western state.

“The bottom line is that the number of retail liquor stores would increase in Washington under I-1183 but this would not result in the state becoming the wild, wild west of liquor retail stores or sales,” the center's Jason Mercier writes.

I-1183 is this year's attempt to end the state's monopoly control of distribution, wholesale and retail liquor operations. It is backed by Costco, Trader Joe's and Safeway, Inc. Unlike I-1100, which voters rejected last year, I-1183 sets minimum size requirements for retail liquor stores that in many communities would confine sales to supermarkets, discount stores and other larger retail outlets and exclude mini-marts.

Washington is currently second only to Utah among 11 western states in terms of liquor stores per capita. Idaho, which also has state controled liquor stores, is fifth. It has 163 stores, but spread over its population that's one store for every 9,600 Idahoans.

OFM estimates the number of liquor stores in Washington would jump from the current level of 328 to 1,428 if I-1183 passes.. Sales would also go up slightly, based on the experience of Alberta, Canada, when that province ended its monopoly.

But Washington would have fewer stores per capita than Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado or Hawaii — other western states that don't have state-run liquor stores, the policy center concludes.

What’s the state wholesale liquor system worth?

OLYMPIA – Washington officials are trying to come up with a way to decide whether it makes good economic sense to let someone else run wholesale liquor operations in the state.

About the time they’re ready to make that decision, the voters might take it out of their hands, and turn all liquor operations – wholesale, distribution and retail sales – over to private businesses.

But if voters reject Initiative 1183 in November, the state could still turn its warehousing and distribution system over to the highest bidder next year. Then the question becomes, how do state officials decide the best deal for the state?

A special committee formed by the Legislature wrestled with a way to answer that question Tuesday ….

To read the rest of this story, click here to go inside the blog.

No surprise: Liquor initiative makes the ballot

OLYMPIA — An initiative to turn wholesale and retail liquor sales over to the private sector qualified for the ballot, state elections officials said Wednesday.

Initiative 1183, sometimes called the Costco initiative because the discount retailer is among its most ardent supporters, passed a random check of its petitions, David Ammons, a spokesman for Secretary of State Sam Reed said.

It joins I-1125, which would limit tolls and fees on roads, bridges and ferries. Elections officials begin a spot check of petitions Thursday on a third initiative, I-1163 which would require training and background checks for home health care workers.

All three initiatives submitted enough signatures that they were likely to qualify for the ballot.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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