Monday, August 10, 2015

Well, the PLCB released some numbers - so how did I do?

A few days after I asked why the PLCB couldn't publish any financial numbers in a reasonable time, the House Liquor Control Committee got some numbers from the PLCB that tried to make themselves look good. If you watch the video, you'll see it didn't work. Here are a few facts and figures. This isn't the same amount of information that it took them over 2 months to release last year, but it is a start and enough to check the predictions I made. Let's see how I did, comparing the actual quotes from my post of July 31 to what came out at the meeting.
The PLCB spin is making me dizzy
1. Prediction: "The PLCB had record sales again. No surprise there with a police enforced monopoly, a growing population and things costing more over time: what else would you expect?"

1. Reality: Hit this one right on the head

2. Prediction: "There should be some crowing about record amounts of taxes turned in, but how is that a surprise when sales go up? Tax payments are done by tens of thousands of businesses, but the PLCB is the only one that puts out a press release saying that they did their job. Congratulations, guys."

2. Reality. Yep, they are crowing about it, but things are a bit confused. The PLCB cited various "modernization" efforts, including increased Sunday store hours. Except there weren't any increased Sunday store hours. That particular change is controlled by the legislature, and they didn't vote to increase any Sunday hours. Is the PLCB doing it illegally?

3. Prediction: "The PLCB will not have record Net Operating Income or what they call "profits." It went down last year and I'm betting it will go down again this year. You gotta wonder how they can have record sales all the time, but rarely record profits (or 'unwasted use tax', as I like to call it)."

3. Reality: While no PLCB financial sheet lists "net income," we can figure it out; it came to $121.2 million in FY 2014, which went down to $117 million this year. Damn, right again. Record sales and making less money: it's the PLCB way!

4. Prediction: "Store, Warehouse, and Transportation Costs went up 8% last year and I say they will be up by at least the same amount this year."

4. Reality: Well, they did go up, from $327 to $338 million, but that is not the 8% I predicted, it's only 3% . Can't win 'em all.

5. Prediction: "Administrative, Alcohol Education, and Support Costs went up 9% last year and they will go up again by 8-10%. Don't even think that was because of the education part, since the total was even more in 2011. Went down after Rep. Turzai started pointing it out and then went back up to what it was. It's going to go up again."

5. Reality: In a rebound with a slam dunk! Administrative, Alcohol Education, and Support Costs went up an astounding 29.4% from $62.6 to 81 Million.

So there you have it.  We'll have to wait and see how well my prognostication did whenever the PLCB can figure out how to work those computers. For now, I'm going to say that I did pretty damn well with 4 out of 5.

The  bottom line is that the PLCB took more of the citizen's money and gave less in return for the second year in a row, and for the fourth year in a row did not increase the amount turned in to the general fund, even though all those years had record sales. I know that this number is a request by the Governor, but it is AFTER MEETING WITH THE PLCB, when he knows how much they have.

Time to kill this dinosaur.



Anonymous said...

I was wondering... if/when privatization ends up happening, will current state store buildings be reused as private stores? Personally I'm arguing with myself about this because while some PLCB stores are in fantastic locations, others are in awful locations (but those stores still pack a crowd due to having a monopoly). And by "awful" I don't mean the stores are in high-crime spots (though yes many state stores indeed are) but that their visibility, parking, neighbors, etc suck. I can name at least a dozen RELATIVELY NEW state stores that are either hidden from the nearest busy street, have not nearly enough parking for the demand, or are in what would be a location that no private retailer (selling booze or anything else) would want to be. Many of the state stores meet all three of these criteria.

Also, if current state store staff do indeed get hired by private liquor stores, let's hope the former PLCB employees won't dictate what hours the stores are open. Lots of state stores aren't open Sunday at all (and the only ones open Sunday are open 12-5), aren't open mornings, aren't open ANY holidays, or close at a really early time (like 7:00 PM, 9:00 PM, etc). So a lot of places, folks like me who partake in nightlife are sh!t out of luck if we have any desire to shop at a state store in the late evening. I guess these limited hours do serve the purpose of deterring people who abuse booze, but are just a pain in the butt for the rest of us.

Albert Brooks said...

All current state store retail space is leased so it would be available for private businesses be they liquor stores or something else.

Hours of operation are in the Liquor Code and are not up to the PLCB employees per se. The PLCB chooses not to maximize the hours they could be open which would be the same as what any bar could be open - 7AM to 2AM AFAIK. The same with most holidays, it is a choice not a law.

Anonymous said...

Since Wolf has taken the position to perpetuate the myth of modernization I am sure he has been tracking the PLCB's financial position. If it was good news he would be waiving the banner but if it is not he doesn't want to feed the privatization argument.

Albert Brooks said...

I'm sure there will be a press release about record taxes turned in at some point. As I mentioned before, the PLCB is the only entity in PA that crows about doing what thousands of businesses do every year.