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Move to an existing site, or build new

By Staff | Mar 3, 2019

This architect’s drawing, left, shows what a new Wells Municipal Liquor store could look like.

Wells is moving forward with their city municipal liquor store relocation.

At their meeting on Feb. 25, city administrator CJ Holl presented a slide show on what the next steps are for the city if they choose to authorize the move of their store from its current location to an incubator building owned by the city’s economic development authority (EDA).

The city authorized architectural plans and specs for bidding, as well as authorized the beginning bonding process with Northland Securities. Public hearings were put in place for the bonding and bid processes in the near future.

Critical measures are on the horizon for the liquor store as it continues to see only marginal growth in the last year, and still operates at a 0.3 percent loss. An estimated 26 percent was the liquor store’s state gross profit for 2018, while 2017 brought in a gross profit of only 26.1 percent. The council also looked at other comparative cities who have their municipal liquor store located in their downtown area and noted the lack of traffic is what could be causing the lack of profit, which is a strong motivator for the move.

The council looked at projected costs of building on a new site, versus staying at their current site. The total project cost predesign estimate for a brand new site was approximately $687,576, while moving the project to the aforementioned EDA-owned site would only cost the city an estimated $536,025, while the old building site could potentially go to the VFW, which has shown strong interest in purchasing the location.

In other portions of their meeting, council members discussed their future fund balance for the city. As a part of their long term plan, the city of Wells requested the help of Abdo, Eick & Meyers, a CPA firm from Mankato, to lay out whether the city could continue taking on street projects and city improvements with their standing budget.

Jean McGann and Layne Kockelman of Abdo, Eick & Meyers joined the Wells City Council on Feb. 25, for their regular meeting. The greatest question the council wanted to know was whether the city could maintain their fund balance for the future as they take on fairly large street projects.

Those projects include new street and sewer and water services for Third Avenue SW from Third Street SW to Second Street SW, reconstruction of County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 60 in 2019, reconstruction of street, sanitary, water, and storm lines for North Broadway (from Truncated Highway 109 to Sixth Street NE), Fourth Street NW (from Broadway to First Avenue NE), and First Avenue NE (from TH?109 to Fourth Street NE) in 2020, total reconstruction of Fifth Avenue NW (from First Street SW to Third Street NW) and Sixth Avenue NW (from TH 109 to Third Street NW) in 2022, and a reconstruction of TH?22 (from Ninth Street SW to TH 109) in 2023. That is an estimated total of $5.1 million for those projects, and over 10,000 feet of street.

Their report showed that the city, indeed, could take on those future projects with the ability to maintain the city’s reserves and operating capital.

After their conversation with Abdo, Eick & Meyers, the city of Wells received good news from their 2018 tax and assessment collections. According to city administrator CJ?Holl, the audit was scheduled for three days, but the auditors only needed two days to wrap up their in-house portion of the audit.

“All went well,” he said in his city administrator report to the council. “Hats off to Jennie (Kloos) for always being on top of things. There weren’t any questions we weren’t able to answer or provide information for. Auditors were appreciative that they had much information ahead of time and we had our OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) study complete.

During their meeting, the Wells City Council also approved an airport development bid from Minnesota Signal LLC at the cost of $176,738. The project involves the upgrading of Wells’ current low intensity runway edge lighting system to a medium intensity system, installation of runway end identifier lights, extension of the concrete taxiway, and drainage improvements. Funding for the project is said to be a combination of both state and local funds.

The city also requested a and received a grant agreement in the amount of $248,694 for the project, a number reflective of the engineer’s estimate and would cover seven of the eight bids received.

In other portions of their meeting the Wells City Council:

Discussed tax delinquencies for the city were seven percent higher than previously recorded. These higher delinquency tax rates may be due to the changed property values of the city when the Faribault County assessor came through the city last summer.

Heard and tabled a request for Marketplace Foods to sell 3.2 beer.

Bruce Mandler, owner of Marketplace Foods, has applied for a 3.2 license, meeting all requirements and conditions of city code and state statute and will pay all fees at the time of his application.

Because the city of Wells operates a Municipal Liquor Store, only certain types of off-sale licenses can be issued by the city of Wells including clubs (like the VFW and American Legion), hotels and restaurants.

Received an update on street foreman Mike Pyzick, who hopes to return to work within the next few weeks after suffering a major heart attack.