County Liquor Control On Pace For $556K Profit

SNOW HILL — The Department of Liquor Control (DLC) is on track to meet its year-end profit goal of $556,500, according to officials.

When Worcester decided to absorb the then quasi-governmental Liquor Control Board last July and turn it into an actual county department, DLC Director Bobby Cowger said that, while the transition went smoothly, the entity itself was a mess.

“There was a huge amount of bad inventory,” he told the commission.
Additional problems at the time of the takeover included issues with transparency to the public.
“It seemed like there was none there,” said Cowger.

There were also concerns over non-consistent pricing and overly late hours for liquor stores, wrinkles Cowger said have been ironed out by standardizing pricing and a decision to close all county run liquor stores by 10 p.m.

According to Cowger’s report, the DLC is expected to bring in more than $15 million in revenue this year — about $10 million through wholesale operations and roughly $5 million through retail.

The estimated $556,500 in profit expected for this year will be split between Worcester County and its municipalities.

Other highlights of the presentation Cowger made to the commission included the revelation that $1,566,508 was generated at the 38th Annual Trade Show held in Ocean City in March, at a net savings to alcohol license holders in Worcester of $250,243.

Cowger also thanked the commission for approving a $158k computer system for the DLC, which he claimed will improve operations and procedures by “100 percent.”

There are a few challenges still left to hurdle, however. Within its first few months of operation, the DLC ran into a snafu with the Maryland Comptroller’s Office over the illegal purchase of alcohol wholesale from Alabama, a state not licensed to sell in Maryland. The issue dragged on for weeks before Worcester eventually agreed to return the inventory.

There were worries that the freshly-minted DLC had soured its status with the Comptroller’s Office, which fined the former LCB for illegal operations. However, Cowger stressed that the relationship is in good standing and that Worcester is currently in talks with Jeff Kelly of the Comptroller’s Office regarding purchasing with a wholesaler status as opposed to “buying from Maryland wholesalers as a retailer,” an effort Cowger hopes will slash the overall costs of purchasing.