PORTLAND, Maine — State liquor sales rose over the previous fiscal year about 4.6 percent to $155.5 million, according to Maine’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, delivering $15.6 million of those proceeds to state government’s revenue stream.

The agency overseeing liquor sales reported higher revenues in the first year of a new contract between the state and Pine State Trading Co., generating $46 million in operating profit.

The first-year performance puts the liquor contract on track to deliver more than $450 million in revenue to the state over 10 years, with annual revenues projected to increase to more than $66 million in 2024. Those proceeds first help pay down a $220 million bond the state took out to pay back Medicaid debt owed to hospitals and to trigger federal reimbursements.

The rest of the money goes toward the state’s general fund, Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health and Human Services funds used to help pay for wastewater treatment and public water system infrastructure and the Department of Transportation.

State officials projected they would double profits yielded by the previous 10-year deal signed during former Gov. John Baldacci’s administration with Maine Beverage Co., which received a percentage of all liquor sales. The new contract pays Pine State Trading Co. a fee, with the state receiving the profits.

The state reported that $15.6 million of the $46 million in operating profits went this year to those state funds, including $9.7 million to the state’s general fund. Another $3.5 million went to the DEP’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, $1.8 million went to DHHS’ Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and $603,200 went to the state’s General Fund.

Gov. Paul LePage said in a prepared statement that the deal crafted by his administration “allowed the state of Maine to take back the significant revenue created by the spirits business, pay back our hospitals and provide a better deal for Maine taxpayers.”

Gregory Mineo, director of the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, said in a statement that he attributes higher sales in part to new pricing.

“If it’s consumed in Maine, we want it to be purchased here,” Mineo said. “Our new, lower prices are just one way of encouraging that philosophy.”

The new contract took effect July 1, 2014, and expires in June 2024.

Avatar

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.