Liquor Control Board sets record $1.65B in sales |

Liquor Control Board sets record $1.65B in sales

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board posted a record $1.65 billion in sales last fiscal year — a 5.5 percent increase — to end the year in the black, an LCB official said Thursday.

Sales at the more than 600 state Wine & Spirits stores increased by about $86 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The LCB sent more than $494 million into state coffers last year through taxes and transfers and ended the year with $23 million in profit.

The profit is largely attributed to a reduction in the amount that the state required the LCB to transfer the general fund. The amount dropped from $105 million in 2010-11 to $80 million for 2011-12, said LCB Chief Executive Officer Joe Conti.

For the first time in several years, the agency has posted a profit after meeting its obligation to the state, Conti said, adding that Gov. Tom Corbett and his staff deserve credit for lining up their request with available revenue.

“It's why we're in a strong fiscal position at this time,” Conti said.

State lawmakers, led by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, debated proposals to privatize wine and liquor sales this spring. The effort, however, was called off in June to focus on the state budget.

Turzai has said he plans to push privatization again this fall.

The LCB has put forth a number of proposals that it says could sharply increase the revenue it funnels to the state. The agency, though, needs state lawmakers to approve changes to the liquor code for the goal to succeed.

In the meantime, Conti said on Thursday that officials are focused on reducing expenses.

Overall expenses rose less than $1 million to $387 million.

Revenue from the LCB goes into the state's General Fund, as well as to the state police for liquor-law enforcement and to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to educate and prevent alcohol abuse. The agency also returned nearly $4.5 million to local communities, according to an LCB fact sheet released on Thursday.

The LCB's largest expenditure — about $1.15 billion or 55 percent of all expenses — came from purchasing about 40,000 products sold in state stores and paying the federal taxes on those products. State store, warehouse and transportation costs, which accounted for 15 percent of expenses, totaled more than $301 million.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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