Idaho

One thing still growing in Idaho: Liquor sales

Idaho State Liquor Division director Jeff Anderson tells legislative budget writers Friday that liquor sales continue to grow despite the down economy; he called state-run liquor sales
Idaho State Liquor Division director Jeff Anderson tells legislative budget writers Friday that liquor sales continue to grow despite the down economy; he called state-run liquor sales "a very stable revenue stream" for the state. (Betsy Russell)

BOISE - One thing still growing in these tough economic times in Idaho: Liquor sales.

“We’ve experienced growth in spite of the negative economic environment that we’ve been operating in,” Idaho state liquor division Director Jeff Anderson told legislative budget writers this morning.

The division turned over a record $47.2 million in net proceeds to the state in fiscal year 2010; most of that went to the state general fund, cities and counties, with slices going to courts, community colleges and substance abuse treatment. “It’s a very stable revenue stream,” Anderson said.

Among the division’s proposals for next year, it plans to increase hours at some of the largest stores to as late as 9 p.m. and possibly open on some holidays; this year, it tested opening on New Year’s Day and saw some increased profits as a result.

The division gets no state general funds, operating entirely on proceeds from liquor sales.

Anderson estimated that the proposal to increase hours of operation would generate $1 million in profit.

Under Gov. Butch Otter’s budget proposal the division also plans to turn back to the state general fund, on a one-time basis, $8 million now held in the division’s cash balance. Anderson said a cash balance of that magnitude no longer is needed with current inventory processes, and the move won’t impact day-to-day operations.

Thirty of Idaho’s 44 counties now permit liquor sales on Sundays. Idaho’s per-capita liquor consumption is 1.28 gallons per person, well under the U.S. average of 1.44 gallons and the average in “open” states, where the state doesn’t control liquor sales, of 1.49 gallons.

Idaho’s bottle sales have grown 32 percent over the last five years.



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