Unused space hurts Dassel Liquor Store financially

July 28, 2008

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The unused east end of the Dassel Liquor Store is hurting the liquor store financially, according to the city auditor, Dennis Oberloh of Oberloh & Associates, LTD of Redwood Falls.

It would take a $70,000 increase in sales to get the liquor store in the black, Oberloh said in an annual financial report for 2007 given last Monday to the Dassel City Council.

The liquor store takes up about 55 percent of the space in the 13,000-square-foot building, formerly the A+ Sports and Marine Building along Highway 12, City Administrator Myles McGrath said.

The City of Dassel has been attempting to lease the extra space ever since the liquor store moved in, during April 2007, but so far, no takers, he added.

Oberloh advised that expenses for the unused space be accounted for in a different fund than the liquor store fund. “It’s more appropriate not to penalize the liquor store for that space,” Oberloh said.

Both Council Members Bob Lalone and Wayne Medcraft recommended advertising more aggressively that the space is available for leasing.

In other liquor store fund auditing, Oberloh pointed out that the liquor store’s payroll is on the low side. Usually municipal liquor store’s payrolls are between 10 to 16 percent of sales. Dassel’s liquor store’s payroll is barely 10 percent, he said.

As for the city’s audit as a whole, Oberloh said the City of Dassel does not have enough office personnel to have the accounting functions segregated properly. However, this is common in small towns, which don’t have a big enough budget to hire seven extra employees to have good internal control, Oberloh said.

Also, the year 2007 report included financial information about the former Dassel Lakeside Community Home. The nursing home, now called Lakeside Health Care Center, is part of Augustana Care of Minneapolis, so won’t be part of next year’s financial audit, Oberloh pointed out.

City council members also asked several questions about comparing Dassel to other cities. Oberloh responded that, overall, Dassel did “very well” in its audit, compared to other communities.

In addition, Oberloh reported that Dassel’s sewer fund is operating slightly in the red, but very few cities operate both water and sewer in the black.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• decided to buy a $1,150 three piece reflective barricade from Geyer Signal of St. Cloud for the end of Martin Drive. The barricade will prevent drivers from using the dirt strip to access Highway 15 from Martin Drive. At the same time, the center part of the barricade breaks free or is removable to allow emergency vehicles quick access to the Martin Estates area in the southwest corner of Dassel

Instead of pushing snow straight through to the highway, city snow plows will push snow to the right and left of the barricade, said Public Works Director Dave Scepaniak.

• granted a variance to Scott Niska so he can build a 26-foot-by-28-foot garage with a 3-foot setback instead of a 10-foot setback. The new garage, at 751 2nd St., will have the same setback as the current garage. The only condition is that Niska put in sheet rock on the south wall of the garage to bring it up to fire code. The owners of all properties within 350 feet of the garage were notified of the application for the July 15 hearing, McGrath said.

• approved Thirsty’s Tavern useing Atlantic Avenue between Second and Third streets for a street dance during Red Rooster Days. Also, a bean bag tournament will be in the gravel parking area on the south side of Atlantic Avenue. The parking area won’t be paved until next year, Scepaniak said.

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