LCB’s Profits Top $815K Mark

BERLIN- The soon-to-be-defunct Worcester County Liquor Control Board (LCB) last week made its final distribution of year-to-date revenues to Worcester County and its municipalities last week totaling over $815,000, a far cry from the $112,000 it contributed last year.

The LCB, abolished this year by the General Assembly and replaced with a county-run operation, begins distributing alcoholic beverages in the county on July 1, last week made its final distribution totaling $815,437 representing revenue for the year through April 30. By law, half of the LCB’s revenue is distributed to Worcester County and the remaining 50 percent is shared among its four municipalities at a rate proportionate to the retail sales of alcohol.

As a result, Ocean City received $218,892 from the last distribution, while Berlin received $106,585, Pocomoke received $45,721 and Snow Hill received $17,669.

The LCB’s previous estimates predicted a revenue contribution to the county and its towns exceeding $900,000, but a one-time expense due to the abolishment of the agency reduced the figure to $815,437. The one-time expense related to accrued employee compensatory and vacation time and the upcoming transition to current LCB employees to county employment.

Because the county does not permit the accrual of compensatory time and limits the accrual of vacation time, employees were entitled to be compensated for all of their accrued compensatory time and any vacation time that exceeded the allowable limit.

Nonetheless, the LCB’s revenue contribution for 2011 at $815,000-plus is a far cry from the declining revenue presented to Worcester and its towns over the last two years. Last year, the LCB’s contribution to the county and its municipalities dropped to just $112,000, setting in motion the legislation to abolish the agency. In 2009, LCB distributions totaled around $411,000, which was about half of its traditional contribution. Prior to the last two years, the LCB’s revenue distribution often approached the $1 million mark.

Dissatisfaction with Worcester County’s antiquated LCB, one of four agencies of its kind still in place in Maryland, reached a crescendo last summer and early fall amid allegations of price gouging, unfair trade practices and declining revenues. Throughout last summer, the LCB came under increased scrutiny, including an extensive audit by the state Comptroller’s Office into alleged trade violations. When those allegations were confirmed at the completion of the state audit last fall, the LCB all but admitted the violations and agreed to a fine.