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Mercer Island's State Liquor Store to Close by June

The State Liquor Control Board confirmed in a press release Wednesday that I-1183 will force the state to layoff 900 employees following the Nov. 8 election results.

Mercer Island Patch has confirmed the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) will close by no later than June 1, 2012.

Last night's general election returns show voters are approving Initiative 1183, 60-40, which privatizes the sale of hard liquor and directs the state to close state liquor stores and sell off related assets. Four employees at the Mercer Island store — one manager, an assistant manager and two clerks — will lose thier jobs.

Last year, the WSLCB to — which will be preserved thanks to language in I-1183 — but increased revenues promised by backers of the measure might not materialize for local towns and cities. Governor Christine Gregoire proposed ending liquor revenue-sharing in her Oct. 27 budget, and could reserve additional revenues authorized by I-1183 for the state, according to the Bellingham Herald.

Note: The following is a statement from the Liquor Control Board:

We are, of course, deeply disappointed by the election result on Initiative 1183.

Weighing most heavily on our hearts and minds are the more than 900 Liquor Control Board employees who will lose their jobs. Our employees have been working under the cloud of initiatives for nearly two years. Despite operating under a microscope, they have carried out their responsibilities with dignity and professionalism. We owe our employees a debt of gratitude for the professional way in which they have conducted themselves during a difficult time.

Moving Forward

We will begin moving forward to ensure that we are meeting the timelines established by the initiative. Our goal is to have an orderly transition from public to private business operations. Our agency leaders are meeting now to develop a contingency plan.

  • We will continue to maximize revenue in responsible ways through the holiday season.
  •  In January, our operational focus will be on divesting ourselves from the business as prescribed in the initiative.
  • By June 1, 2012, all liquor business operations - including purchasing, distribution and retail -- will be transitioned of the private sector.

Our state liquor stores have among the highest no-sale-to-minors compliance rate in the nation at more than 94 percent. The private sector’s overall compliance rate is 77 percent. As the sale and distribution of liquor will soon be completely in the hands of the private sector, we hope it will treat this public safety responsibility with the utmost importance.

The Liquor Control Board will continue carrying out its highest priority of public safety. While the agency is ending its business operations, it will continue to carry out our enforcement, licensing, adjudicative and policy-setting functions affecting over 16,000 liquor licensees statewide.

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