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02/06: Liquor Division outlines goals for next biennium

Pub Date: 2/1/2006
By Shauna Helfert, Administrator
Liquor Control Division
Montana Department of Revenue

Last November, the Montana Department of Revenue reorganized to provide enhanced service, improved efficiency and greater equity to the citizens of Montana. The new structure enables the department to improve our service to the public, and is simpler for the public to understand.

As a result, the department' liquor distribution and liquor licensing functions are now combined under one division, the Liquor Control Division.

I have been named the administrator for the division. I am not new to the liquor business, having been responsible of the liquor distribution functions of the department for the past six years. I started my career in state government as a corporation tax auditor and, in 1998, became the Bureau Chief for the Liquor Dispensary.

Our Goals for the Biennium

The Liquor Control Division' goal for the 2007 biennium is to accomplish its statutory responsibilities in the administration of the Alcohol Beverage Code, with an emphasis on excellence in customer service and a focus on public safety.

We want to ensure a safe, orderly and regulated system for the convenient distribution and responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages. We will be reviewing what we are currently doing and determining how we can improve.

Here are some of the highlights of our plan for the biennium:

• We will continue to educate licensees on liquor laws and encourage everyone to comply with these laws. Most all of our licensees comply with our liquor laws, rules and regulations and we thank you for that.

• We will provide the best service possible to agency stores, licensees and citizens. We currently strive for an approval of a liquor license in less than 100 days, but in many cases it happens much sooner. We also strive to maintain sufficient inventory in the state liquor warehouse to adequately service stores and licensees.

• We will develop and maintain quality, working relationships by improving communication with the general public, other state agencies, public interest groups (such as MADD, Healthy Mothers /Healthy Babies and Safe Kids/Safe Communities) and stakeholders (such as licensees, agency liquor stores, liquor vendors, the Montana Tavern Association, and the Montana Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association).

• We will continue to work with other state agencies and public interest groups to cooperatively develop educational efforts. This education will encourage responsible sales and service of alcoholic beverages, and promote the prevention of underage drinking and high-risk (or binge) drinking. Overall, we'll be helping to protect the public health and safety of Montanans.

New Computer System for Liquor

We are pleased to report that we've successfully implemented our new integrated tax system, IRIS. This January, our new liquor warehouse management, inventory and tax system in IRIS will begin operating.

This new system will better manage our liquor inventory and provide greater efficiency to the wholesale liquor ordering process. With the new system, we will be able to provide better customer service through accessibility of data and information.

In addition, a liquor licensing system will be added to IRIS on Dec. 31, 2006. This system will help streamline our licensing procedures and practices.