LCB Briefly Put On State Pre-Pay List

OCEAN CITY — For a span
of several hours on Tuesday, the Liquor Control Board for Worcester County
(LCB) became the first dispensary in the history of Maryland to have its line
of credit for purchasing alcohol revoked.

On Tuesday, July 13,
sometime before noon, according to reliable sources, the LCB was placed on the
state Comptroller’s 30-day Biweekly Credit Control List that requires them to
pay cash upon delivery of products, due to alleged late payments on their
approximated $6 million line of credit with the state.

Each day, “the list” of
30-day credit blacklisted retailers is sent to wholesalers throughout the state
by the Comptroller’s office. It instructs wholesalers which of their clients
must pay for their alcohol on the spot, rather than simply crediting their
account.

The Worcester LCB was,
allegedly, late multiple times over the past seven to eight months, and on
Tuesday, were placed on the list by the Comptroller’s office of the Treasury,
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax office, which according to those in the industry, marks
the first time that a non-retailer has ever been placed on the Cash On Delivery
List.

However, the LCB was
taken off the list as of the end of the day on Tuesday, sometime between 4:30
and 5 p.m., for unknown reasons at press time, by the office’s supervisor,
Trish Anthony.

Larry Wilkinson, LCB
board member and official public spokesman, said that although he was unaware
the LCB had been put on the list, he said that it was not because of an
inability to pay their bills.

“We overnighted a check
to them, and more than likely, the check didn’t get there until after 11 a.m.,
and it is possible they put us on the list until the check cleared at 3 p.m.,”
said Wilkinson. “But, we are just like any other business, we like to hold onto
our money as long as possible. We had the cash in our account to pay for the
invoice, so I assure you that we are able to pay our bills.”

Wilkinson said he was
unsure of the total amount of the check that was over-nighted to the
Comptroller’s office, but he did say that it was probably “in the $600,000 to
$700,000 range”. Yet, there were inside reports this week alluding the LCB was
taken off the list because their inability to purchase the huge volumes of
liquor on credit that are being ordered in Worcester County this time of year,
particularly in Ocean City, would essentially cripple the local licensees who
are required to purchase all of their alcohol from the LCB.

Representatives from
wholesalers Carey Distributors, FP Winner and the state’s Comptroller’s office
of the Treasury, Alcohol, and Tobacco Tax in Annapolis confirmed that the LCB
had been added on July 13, and then removed on July 14, and The
Dispatch
obtained copies of the list as well.

“It’s on here plain as
day,” said Christine Benson, office manager for Carey Distributors. “They were
on there on Tuesday, and then taken off on Wednesday, for whatever reason.”

Benson said that,
according to the state law, if a retailer, or in this case, the LCB, is late
with their approximated 30-day time period to pay for a particular invoice from
a wholesaler, the wholesaler would file a report with the Comptroller’s office.
After three times being late with a payment and being put on the list, a retailer
is smacked with a 24-month penalty, which requires them to lose their line of
credit and pay cash on delivery.

Last year, the Worcester
LCB had their line of credit increased from $5 million to $6 million by a bill
that seemingly breezed through the General Assembly in Annapolis.

Still, as news spread
that the LCB was put on the proverbial naughty list, albeit for only a few
hours, more questions concerning the quasi-governmental monopoly continue to
swirl around Worcester County and the state of Maryland this week.

“It isn’t uncommon for
someone to be put on the list and then taken off in the same day, because that
happens,” said Montgomery County LCB Chief of Operations Gus Montes d’Oca, “but
I’ve never heard of any dispensary going on the list. That’s absolutely unheard
of.”

 

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