Herald JournalHerald Journal, Dec. 22, 2003

Lions, HL city debate pulltab arrangement

By Lynda Jensen

The pulltab lease arrangement with the Howard Lake Lions dominated the discussion during the Howard Lake council meeting Tuesday.

The council approved a lease arrangement that would return 7.5 percent of gross profits to the city in exchange for space at the municipal liquor on-sale location.

This would satisfy recent changes in wording by the gambling board, which requires the lease arrangement to be a percent and not a specific number.

A great deal of discussion was made before the decision took place.

For nearly 10 years, the Lions have paid $500 per month toward the lease arrangement.

All of the proceeds from selling pulltabs go toward worthy causes ­ and not to the Lions ­ since they are required by law to give away the money, Sam Gruenhagen of the Lions noted. "We can't take any," he said.

Fifty-five percent of its earnings go toward expenses such as printing pulltabs, the lease, and wages, with the other 45 percent being donated toward specific purposes according to state law.

Gruenhagen was asked where the money was being spent and he answered about $17,000 toward the school, and three scholarships of $1,000 each.

Administrator Kelly Bahn questioned him further about donations, since the numbers Gruenhagen gave didn't account for it all.

"You made $47,000 last year and $35,000 (so far)," Bahn said. She asked where the remainder was.

There is $25,000 right now being carried over by the Lions, Gruenhagen said. Gruenhagen encouraged the council to make more requests for donations.

During the conversation, Mayor Gerry Smith asked Gruenhagen why the organization hasn't contributed toward the renovation of Lions Park.

In the past, the Lions contributed $45,000 toward the bathrooms at Lions Park.

Gruenhagen noted that a preference was made to donate labor, but when the day came to participate, no one from the Lions showed up.

The FFA students helped with the park project, and the Lions considered this to be taking the Lions' place, since the Lions frequently contribute toward FFA.

"We're doing (the pulltabs) as a service," Gruenhagen told the council.

He noted that other pulltab operations, such as Winsted, put all the money toward the fire department.

If the city wanted to, it could ask the fire department to get its own pulltab license and the revenue could be used for this purpose entirely, Gruenhagen said.

The council discussed raising the lease amount, since it hasn't been increased in 10 years.

Council Member Terry Ostgulen objected to increasing the lease amount, since the city isn't incurring expenses by having pulltabs, he said.

Both Smith and Council Member Shelly Reddemann objected to this, pointing to precious space at the city hall that is being taken up by the pulltabs.

Four tables could fit where the pulltabs are, and this represents lost alternative revenue, Reddemann noted, according to Liquor Store Manager Ruth Voight.

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