Utah’s liquor monopoly accused of huge reporting errors

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) A state audit released Tuesday went after the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control showing financial reporting discrepancies to tune of millions of dollars.

The report shows inconsistencies ranging from $26 million to $308 million in various reporting line items.

At first blush this sounds bad, almost criminal. Where did the money go? Are taxpayers getting ripped off by the hugely lucrative sales market for booze?

The answer is no. Nothing nefarious. No money missing. It was simply errors in reporting as the DABC switched from an old computer system on its last legs, to a new reporting system called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Snafus in the switch over caused the problems.

Both the State Auditor and the Director of the DABC are in complete agreement on that.

Auditor John Dougall “the money is accounted for.”

DABC Director Sal Petilos “there’s no money missing.”

Dougall explains “the money is accounted for, but the data, the accounting systems were incorrect.”

Petilos says simply “what we had was a delay in reporting.”

Other than the technical mistakes, the audit did take issue with the quality and stability of the financial experts at the Department. At least one of the DABC Commissioners mentioned that it’s difficult to compete with private enterprise since the DABC is on a tight string with its operating budget controlled by the state legislature.

“If the state of Utah expects this to be run like a business, they should treat it like a business,” says Commissioner Neal Berube.

And it’s a business private investors would salivate over. Liquor sales continue at a record setting pace. Retail sales for the fiscal year have reached nearly $326 million and that’s an increase of nearly $17 million over the same period last year. 

The agency’s director says things have been corrected and the next audit won’t find the same reporting problems.

“Did we do anything wrong?” “No” says Sal Petilos. “What we had was a system that wasn’t working correctly and we wanted to make sure it was correct. Now that we have the tools necessary to look at it, we are now in the process of making sure that whatever we report is correct.”  

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