February 12, 2011 in Idaho

Liquor sales bring record net proceeds for Idaho

By The Spokesman-Review
File photo

Liquor sales continue to supply a stable source of revenue for the state of Idaho. Last year saw a record $47.2 million in net proceeds.
(Full-size photo)

Below-average thirst

Below-average thirst

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 in the last five years.

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 Friday.

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 and to 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 operations would generate an additional $1 million in profit.

The division also plans, under Gov. Butch Otter’s budget proposal, 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.

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