AUGUSTA, Maine  — The official who oversees the sale of hard liquor in Maine says the state can bring in $41 million a year in additional revenue while lowering costs to the consumer by renegotiating a state contract for liquor sales and distribution.

Gerry Reid, director of the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, told a legislative committee Wednesday the increased cash would come from ending a contract the state awarded in 2003 giving the Maine Beverage Co. exclusive rights to import and distribute hard liquor.

That $125 million, 10-year contract expires in 2014. Maine Beverage makes about $36 million per year in profit, according to the Sun Journal.

The Sun Journal reports that because retail prices in Maine are $2 to $7 per bottle more expensive than in New Hampshire, Maine loses as much as 400,000 cases in sales to its neighbor, losing up to $20 million in revenue.

Reid said they could use a new contract to try to lower the cost of alcohol in Maine.

He said he likes Maine Beverage Co., but the state is paying the company too much, especially as liquor sales increase and their profits grow higher.

The contract was negotiated during the 2003 state budget crisis, according to the newspaper.


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