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A monthslong review of the state's liquor store operations was officially released Tuesday, and the results are mixed for employees and consumers.

The review, conducted by the Governor's Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), showed some financial deficiencies at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Gov. Gary Herbert plans to address those deficiencies in his proposed 2015-16 budget, which will be unveiled next week.

"It will restore the $500,000 that was cut from the DABC operating budget earlier this year," Kristin Cox, executive director of the GOMB, explained Tuesday during an interview with The Tribune. It also will include pay raises for employees and additional money to hire more part-time employees or give more hours to existing staff.

More work hours are needed help the liquor stores keep up with the growing demand for liquor, she said.

One thing the governor's budget won't include is money for higher-level employees. That means some liquor store managers will continue to oversee two or more stores, Cox said.

While DABC employees have complained about managers being spread too thin, Cox said the state does not need additional money to address the issue.

She said the agency has been eliminating some manager duties and streamlining others "so they have the time to manage."

The DABC came under fire earlier this year when it implemented a new computerized ordering system that employees, customers and restaurant owners said limited stock and caused some stores to run out of popular items. The issue came to a head in March when Ron Harris, a veteran manager at the Metro Wine Store and a critic of the new system, was put on paid leave just days after he announced his retirement.

The controversy revived old worries about the high number of part-time employees at the state-run liquor stores and the low pay, issues that create low morale.

At the same time, the DABC is figuring out how to operate with fewer dollars as lawmakers cut the liquor store operating budget by $500,000. The cuts came at the same time Utah is experiencing record liquor sales.

State officials began to look into Utah's retail liquor operations in July, delving into inventory management and distribution. They also interviewed 120 employees and managers about liquor store policies, low pay, morale and other working conditions.

DABC Executive Director Sal Petilos said as the review process has unfolded, the DABC has formed a working group that includes store managers and full-time employees. The group meets on a regular basis and discusses problems that arise, and the group addresses employee complaints.

"It helps us realize early on when something isn't working," he said.

There have been other subtle changes at liquor stores that have improved customer selection, made better use of employee time and made the consumer experience more efficient, he said.

Things such as:

• Giving store managers the ability to customize their liquor orders.

• Leaving beer in shipping boxes with the container lids open so customers can grab the product. With these so-called "beer walls," employees no longer have to unpack and shelve beer, which saves time and provides space for other products.

• Cashiers in some stores that are meeting efficiency levels are no longer required to scan each bottle of beer in a six-pack separately.

"There are significant things going on behind the scene that are streamlining operations and making us more effective," Petilos said.

While not part of the review, Petilos said the DABC also is continuing its search for a new deputy director to replace Tom Zdunich, who retired.

The second-in-command will play a major role in any changes that take place, as he or she will oversee day-to-day operations of the department.

There are 10 qualified candidates, with the majority coming from outside the department, he said. The candidates have varying backgrounds, including retail and operations.

"We are hoping to whittle the list down by next week so we can begin the interview process," said Petilos, who is joined on the selection committee by Neal Berube, a state liquor commissioner; Fred Boutwell, with Gastronomy restaurants; Chad Whitlock, of the governor's office; and John Southwick, a liquor store manager

Once the selection committee chooses a final candidate, his or her name will be forwarded to Herbert's office for consideration.