The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Business

February 1, 2014

South central municipal liquor stores make profits, sustain losses

Booze funds parks, playgrounds, pools

City-owned liquor stores continue to be a boon or a burden, and little has seemed to change among the 16 such entities in the nine-county region.

In St. James, profits continue to subsidize the theater and the pool. The store made a profit of $170,256 this year, up 8.7 percent, which also helped it update the city’s website and broadcast council meetings online, City Administrator Joe McCabe said.

The city’s residents know the good that the store’s profits provide, and by the same token its employees know the social ills of alcohol. According to a 2002 study for the Department of Justice, the 7 percent of Americans who are frequent drinkers consume 45 percent of the country’s alcohol.

“There are times they've refused to serve people who have a problem,” McCabe said.

Mapleton continues to deal with deficits, this year of $10,434. That loss, though, has been more than halved since 2011.

Because its store had losses in two of the past three years, Mapleton was required by state law to hold a public hearing about the future of its liquor store. That meeting was held last year, and the city decided to continue.

“I’m sure we’re in the black for 2013,” Mapleton City Administrator Patty Woodruff said. Like more than half of the cities that own liquor stores, Mapleton's venue also includes a bar, which has added more food options.

“It seems to be pretty popular,” she said.

The state auditor recently released the annual report on city-owned liquor stores.

Wells ($-44,948) and Waldorf ($-35,670) were the other two area city-owned liquor stores to lose money.

Though its store made a small profit, about $12,000, Cleveland also transferred $130,000 into its liquor store fund, by far the largest such transfer in the state. The Free Press was unable to reach the city for an explanation.

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