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Three candidates have applied so far for Dassel council vacancy

Oct. 12, 2009

By Lynda Jensen

DASSEL, MN – Three applications have been received so far for the coming vacancy on the Dassel City Council, which should be filled during its next regular meeting, 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19.

Those who have applied so far are Justin Siltala, Jason Benzing, and former Council Member Wayne Medcraft; although the threesome have yet to complete a questionnaire that asks basic questions about the candidate’s experience and background, commented Administrator Myles McGrath.

The vacancy is taking place because longtime Council Member Bob Wilde turned in his resignation, since he is moving to a newly built home outside of city limits with his wife, Amy.

Wilde’s resignation takes effect Tuesday, Oct. 20, or the day after the second October council meeting.

The council is accepting applications from those interested. The appointed candidate will serve through next year until the seat is placed on the November 2010 ballot as a four-year term.

Hearing set Mon., Nov. 2 for liquor store

As required by law, the council set a public hearing about its municipal liquor store operations. “The way the law is set up is that if we lose money two of three years in operation, a public hearing is needed,” McGrath commented.

The hearing was set for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, which is just before a regularly scheduled council meeting.

During Monday’s meeting, Liquor Store Manager Marv Vetsch reported strong September sales and better margins this year than last year.

“I think we’ve seen bottom,” Vetsch said, saying that the economy appears to be doing better, but isn’t clear of the recession yet.

The Municipal Liquor Store 2010 budget shows generation of approximately $8,000 in net operating profit after all expenditures, McGrath commented after the meeting.

“This is on a sales estimate of $980,000. This is a very modest profit for that level of sales. The thing we need to bear in mind is that the store had been generating $1.1 million to $1.2 million in sales (prior to the recent recession),” he added.

“The profit margins allow for a break-even point at approximately $950,000. That level of gross sales covers all costs of operations,” he noted. “The profit therefore is in the sales above $950,000. During 2008 our gross sales dropped below that level. For 2009 sales appear to be headed back to a better than breakeven.

In the past, it was noted that the net loss for 2008 was $11,065, according to auditor Dennis Oberloh. Depreciation amounted to $28,082 that year, McGrath said, which means that the store would have shown a profit of $17,017 otherwise.

The liquor store recorded gross revenue of nearly a million dollars in 2008. In 2007, gross revenue was more than $1 million.

In 2007, a net loss of $34,409 was recorded for the store, with $23,677 of that being depreciation.

“Actually, the sales were strong in 2007 at $1,016,142 compared with the 2008 sales of $921,729,” McGrath observed.

The reason behind the operating loss in 2007 was not sales, but rather the transition into the new building, McGrath added. “All things being equal, if the 2008 sales would have been comparable to 2007, the store would have seen a strong profit in 2008,” he said.

In 2008, operating costs for the liquor store were $921,729 in revenue and $904,712 in expenses (depreciation not included).

Museum update

Museum Director Carolyn Holje was on hand at the meeting to give council members an update.

Momentum continues to build for the traveling Smithsonian exhibit, which will begin Sunday, Oct. 25, she said. “It will be a wonderful opportunity for the whole family,” she said.

In addition to the Smithsonian, a local exhibit will also be featured by the Dassel Area Historical Society.

In other subjects, the DAHS is attempting to save the old creamery building, she said. Currently, the society is helping to obtain an assessment of the old creamery building, to see if it’s worth saving.

Scepaniak asks for high power vacuum

During the meeting, Dave Scepaniak of public works asked the city to consider buying a high power vacuum for $58,000 from the capital outlay fund.

The vacuum, which has a 2,000 gallon tank, could be used to clean storm water catch basins, which in some cases would require a man to be lowered down to do the work otherwise. The equipment sought for is a 2004 model wet/dry vac.

This vacuum could be used in the event of a sewer backup.

No parking stays intact on Williams

The council also heard from deputy Sara Miller, who recommended that the no parking during daytime hours remain intact along a portion of Williams Avenue by the nursing home.

A daycare used to be located there, and current property owners asked to have the signs removed, since it isn’t there any longer.

However, council members and Miller observed that the pedestrian traffic up and down the hill along Williams – made up of elementary school children – is quite heavy during school hours.

Scanlon noted that the signs don’t prohibit parking after hours or on weekends, and thought this wouldn’t be a problem.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• heard from Scepaniak that the chlorine in city water got a bit strong this past week. “Please bear with us,” he said. It might smell for a while until the next hydrant flushing takes place, he said.

• conducted a public hearing regarding the reformulation of the EDA. The council then took action to enable the EDA to move forward. The next step is to make up a mission statement. Appointments will be made at the Monday, Oct. 19 meeting.

• renewed an annual lease with a property owner north of the Dassel Museum, which is used as a parking lot, for a nominal amount. The property is owned by 831 First LLC, and the lease was signed by Alex Hanschen. (This person is the owner of the entire property that contains the warehouses and elevator to the south of the museum.)

• designated the administrator to be the council designee for the Meeker Count Transit Board.

• noted that a wine tasting event will be hosted at the liquor store Tuesday, Nov. 3 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

• discussed the food shelf that is being organized in Dassel.

Scanlon said that “especially, now, it’s good idea.”

Council Member Bob Lalone asked if the idea was redundant, since Cokato serves Dassel, too. Wilde said that Cokato has stricter guidelines and that Dassel’s food shelf would serve anyone.

Council Member Pat Haapala said that 25 families from Dassel have been served. This could be more, if a food shelf office existed in town.

• heard that a rate study has been done for utility services and will be available in the next two weeks, McGrath noted. “We want to keep funds in the black.”


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