Council Schedules More Discussion on Issues at Department of Liquor Control
An Ad Hoc Committee on liquor control looking at issues within the Department of Liquor Control including product delivery and inventory control, is scheduled to talk to bar and restaurant owners and other licensees March 20.
The Ad Hoc Committee includes Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer, who serves as its chairman; Council President George Leventhal, chair of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee; and Marc Elrich, chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee. It is discussing possible options to the current system that controls liquor distribution to county-operated retail alcohol stores, to private beer and wine stores and to restaurants.The meetings are being held to determine how the county could either improve the department or turn the operations over to the private sector. The committee is reviewing a recent report from the Office of Legislative Oversight about the department operations and hearing information from the DLC, the Inspector General and the Montgomery County Government Employees Organization Union.
“I don’t think it is a well-run department,” Riemer said of the current DLC organizational structure.
Riemer has said he would favor a Revenue Authority system be in place to run the department similar to the Montgomery Revenue Authority that operates the county’s golf courses. On the authority, he said he would hope to include a voice for the licensees in the county.
“I think where you need accountability is the licensees who will tell you if the level of service is poor,” Riemer told MyMCMedia. “The county is the one to be vigilant about financial and profitability and efficiency overall.”
The DLC has been under fire for mismanagement of staff and product and other operational issues.
“The county in my opinion turned a blind eye as long as the money is coming in and that is unfortunately how we got to this point,” Riemer said. The DLC generates about $30 million to the county’s general fund.
Riemer said he also favors the county getting out of the special products business, which includes wine and specialty beers like microbrews. He said that could solve some of the efficiency issues when it comes to specialty product delivery.
You can read the Inspector General report about the DLC here.
Another Ad Hoc Committee meeting is scheduled for March 27 where public health and safety professionals have been invited to discuss the issues.