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BR alcohol office in question as ABC board heads to chopping block

4 years ago February 07, 2011 Feb 7, 2011 Monday, February 07 2011 Monday, February 07, 2011 8:51:29 PM CST in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Ashley Rodrigue

BATON ROUGE - A Baton Rouge city agency tracks alcohol sales just like the state does, and city officials will soon consider abolishing the board tied to it.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control office has a $600,000 budget, plus an advisory board.  The office is in charge of licensing and enforcement like the state ATC office, while the nine-member board reviews applications and conducts violation hearings.

The ABC office pays for itself and sometimes turns a profit.  Metro Councilman Smokie Bourgeois, who's also a local restaurant owner, says it adds more effective enforcement and doesn't need the duplication of the advisory board.

"I feel like they have a better understanding because they've been trained to do it, of what's going on and how to interpret the laws and so on and so forth," he said.

Others say the office is a duplication as useless as the actual state board.

Former ABC Board member Scott Wilfong said, "I think what works for 63 other parishes.. a good cause can be made that it would work for us too."

ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert says while East Baton Rouge is the only parish with an office and its own investigators, like the state, there are plenty of cities and parishes that charge for local licenses and do inspections, just with fewer resources.

Hebert said, "I guess you could say maybe there are more checks going on here in Baton Rouge than maybe most because most municipalities don't have that."

Bourgeois said, "I think they do a little better job because that are so closely associated with Baton Rouge, unlike the state office that has their own investigators that do their own work, but it's more on a personal level in Baton Rouge."

Others just worry that personal level could get too personal without the buffer of a board.

Wilfong said, "There's no special interest, there's no potential for gain and I think it'd probably be wise if the office is going to continue, it would be wise to keep the board in-tact."

The Metro Council will vote on abolishing the board on Wednesday.  At this time, there are no plans to get rid of the office as well.

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