Published: Sep 22, 2012 05:00 PM
Modified: Sep 22, 2012 05:04 PM
With one state investigation of Durhams Alcoholic Beverages Control Board under way, another has raised issues with how the county board conducts its business.
According to a draft performance audit released last week, the Durham ABC meets some state standards, but it:
• Has above-average operating costs;
• Fails to meet profit goals; and
• Needs tighter control on travel and credit cards.
The Durham ABC has until Oct. 28 to respond. State ABC Commission spokeswoman Agnes Stevens said has no comment beyond the draft itself.
Stevens said the draft was based on fiscal year 2010-11 data, and expects Durhams response to include figures for FY 2012, which ended June 30. Separate probe
The state commission is auditing the performance of all local boards, as required by legislation passed in 2010, and the draft released last week is not related to a separate state Alcohol Law Enforcement probe into possible violations of state law and other improprieties by the Durham ABC Board.
In a May 31 letter to Alcohol Law Enforcement Director John Ledford, Michael Herring, the state ABC Commissions chief administrator, listed four allegations:
• That the Durham County board held secret meetings, in particular regarding the hiring of Emily Page, the county boards former chairwoman, as the Durham ABCs general manager;
• That Page is altering official board minutes;
• That Page is awarding contracts to friends of board members without proper bidding; and
• That board members and employees are improperly using the boards credit card.
Page became Durham ABC manager after longtime manager Randy Mills retired in 2011.
The Durham board has said it was not informed of the allegations or the investigations and asked the state commission to share its information so the Durham board could conduct its own investigation.Expenses questioned
In the performance audit, a comparison with ABC operations in Asheville and Cumberland County shows Durhams expenses increasingly higher since 2006. For FY 2011, Durhams expenses were just below $4.5 million; Cumberlands were about $3.8 million and Ashevilles about $3.4 million.
Stevens said the audit used Asheville and Cumberland for comparison because their size and scope of business is similar to Durhams. Salaries for ABC store employees showed the greatest difference in cost, with a high difference also in bank and credit-card expenses.
The audit also found that the Durham ABC did not follow policy for travel expenses and reimbursement, and some receipts for credit-card purchases had not been turned in.
Durham County ABC operates eight liquor stores and has 51 full-time employees. Its 2012-13 budget projects total revenue of $25,399,140, including a profit of $1,376,607 to be distributed to Durham County and the city of Durham for educational and alcohol rehabilitation use.