State alcohol regulator’s website gets facelift. Should agency operations?

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The state’s ABC Board’s old website was beyond just dated in a visual way. It also included some questionable content including mixed drink recipes. But no more, according to Dean Argo, Govt. Relations and Communications Manager at the Alabama ABC Board, the site was updated on Jan. 1, 2018 for that among other reasons.

“The previous site was extremely outdated, hard to navigate, had little to no ability to interact with a visitor, a limited search function and provided little information about the Board, its mission, or division functions. Obviously, it had not been updated in several years,” Dean said in a statement.

Dean said the board worked off the state contract for professional services and through the State-managed service provider network (ACRO). The State-managed service provider submitted to us resumes from qualified vendors and they evaluated those resumes and then interviewed individual candidates. From those interviews, they chose a web developer by the name of David Connerth to rework the site.

“While we are still working on a couple of areas of the new site, including a section for our public education/awareness program about the dangers and consequences of underage and binge drinking called ‘Under Age – Under Arrest,’ our contract with the web developer was about 6 months in length and will cost approximately $85,000,” Argo added.

What’s the purpose of the ABC Board?

According to the newly update site, the purpose of the ABC Board is:

  • The ABC Board controls alcoholic beverages through distribution, licensing, and enforcement.
  • The Board operates a chain of retail stores selling the majority of liquor purchased in Alabama.
  • The ABC Board also licenses commercial firms to sell alcoholic beverages. These range from restaurants and nightclubs to small stores selling beer for off-premise use. Applicants for a license are examined carefully to ensure the individuals involved are of solid moral character and will ensure the laws of Alabama and rules of the Board are obeyed. The proposed site for selling or dispensing of beverages is checked through neighborhood survey. After a license is issued, the ABC Board continuously inspects operations of licensees.
  • The Board also conducts audits, collects taxes, and disburses revenue obtained from those taxes, and disburses revenues from the ABC Stores. Recipients of these funds include the Department of Mental Health, Special Education Trust Fund, Department of Human Resources, and the State General Fund.

Controversial Role in Alcohol Sales

But the board’s work isn’t without controversy as Alabama remains one of the last states in the nation with such strict control over sales and licensing.

Legislation to change the structure operations has been introduced for years by State Senator Arthur Orr trying to do away with the portion of the Board that runs package stores. Orr has refiled the legislation this session, SB98, in an effort to privatize ABC stores.

Cameron Smith, Vice President and General Counsel at the R Street Institute, took on the issue noting its fiscal sense in a 2015 AL.com post saying, “Orr’s bill would eliminate the cost of more than 600 employees and the expense of leasing ABC stores from the ABC Board’s operational cost. While the move would undoubtedly incur one-time costs associated with eliminating those positions, those costs are far less expensive than the ongoing salaries and benefits of those state employees.”

Alabama Today’s own Apryl Marie Fogel wrote a piece on the subject and website, noting you could get some fun recipes thereThose have sense been removed from the website. The conclusion of the post according to her remains relevant today new website or not, “The fact is the prohibition days are long behind us and so should be the days of state-run liquor stores.”

BEFORE:

ABC Board website circa March 2010

AFTER:

Alabama ABC Board_Feb 2018

Alabama ABC Board homepage, Tues. Feb. 27, 2018.

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