State liquor stores to stay open after all

Published: Tuesday, April 26 2011 5:56 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Nine state liquor stores won't run dry after all — at least not this year.

Gov. Gary Herbert and legislative leaders worked out a way for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to shift $1.4 million within the agency to keep the stores open until February 2012. About 100 full- and part-time jobs were saved as a result.

In addition, the money means stores won't have to reduce operating hours as initially planned. All locations will maintain current hours.

"That's a big deal to people," said Vickie Ashby, DABC spokeswoman.

The doors were due to be locked as a result of a $2.2 million legislatively mandated budget cut. Herbert has worked with House and Senate leaders to avoid the closures since the Legislature adjourned last month.

“I have always supported keeping our profitable state liquor stores open, and my budget called for zero cuts in DABC’s budget,” Herbert said in a statement. State liquor stores generated $58.4 million in profits last year.

The $1.4 million was originally earmarked for building projects, but was not needed because construction bids came in lower than expected, Ashby said.

The Main Street store, which closed at the end of March, will not reopen. It fell to cuts in the current year's budget.

Lawmakers this year appropriated $100,000 to study the DABC business plan. Ashby said the findings will factor into whether the Legislature decides to keep the nine stores open next year.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

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