Warehouse For Stored Mississippi Liquor Running Out Of Room

JACKSON, MS (AP) — Mississippi's liquor warehouse is getting crowded.

         The facility in Madison, where 99 percent of the liquor that is sold in Mississippi package stores and restaurants is stored until delivery, is big enough to comfortably hold 400,000 cases of spirits.

         Commissioner of Revenue Ed Morgan tells The Clarion-Ledger’s Clay Chandler it currently holds 435,000 cases.

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         "We're bumping the ceiling," Morgan said.

         If growth matches that of the last three decades, the warehouse will soon run out of room altogether. Since 1985, liquor sales in the state have risen an average of 3 percent to 31/2 percent annually.

         Morgan said more room will be needed eventually. That is a matter that will be considered by the Legislature.

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         The size of the needed expansion hasn't yet been determined. And Morgan is not optimistic about quick funding for the project.

         The chairman of a key legislative sub-committee is ready to talk.

         "That warehouse is outdated," said Rep. Hank Zuber III, R-Ocean Springs, who chairs the Ways and Means Subcommittee of Severance and Temperance. "I've been talking about that for two or three years now. It needs to be addressed. It makes us a lot of money, and it should be a priority. It could be making more money if it were updated and expanded and running more efficiently."

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         Meanwhile, the department has implemented measures to deal with the problem. For example, liquor stored at the warehouse has to have a certain dollar amount in sales to reserve its space there. If it sits long enough and doesn't reach that threshold, it is shipped back to the distiller.

         Although that relieves storage pressure, it does hurt the state financially. In fiscal 2014, total alcohol sales meant $312 million in gross revenue and $102 million to the state's general fund.

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