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BE debates hiring 1 or 2 full-timers

By Staff | Apr 20, 2020

Despite a request from their manager, and the fact that liquor sales are up dramatically, the Blue Earth City Council agreed to hire just one new full time person, not two.

The decision came during another in a series of special meetings the council is holding on Monday nights. While the council meets regularly on the first and third Mondays of each month, they are now holding special meetings on all of the other Mondays in each month.

On the agenda for this past Monday, April 13, the council tackled the question of hiring a new full time person at the city-owned municipal liquor store, Blue Earth Wine and Spirits.

With the city negotiating an employment separation agreement with full-time employee David Childs, the council agreed to hire a new full time person to replace Childs.

However, liquor store manager Dave Olson requested to speak and asked if they would consider hiring two full-time employees.

Olson explained that before he was hired as manager, the store had a full-time manager and two full-time employees. When he was hired as manager, a new full-time person was not hired to replace him.

Mayor Rick Scholtes explained the idea at that time was to hire two new part-time people, not one full-time person.

Scholtes said another full-time person would cost the city $50,000, with salary and benefits.

Olson said it can be tough to cover the time with part-time people, as most of them have other full-time jobs.

“We will be losing one of our part-timers when the golf course opens up,” Olson said. “We are also trying to learn a new operating system and keep up with the operation itself.”

Olson reported that liquor sales during the pandemic have been going through the roof.

“From March 13 to April 12, a one month period, sales were at $196,816,” Olson said. “A year ago that same time period sales were $122,788, so that is an increase of $74,000.”

The council joked that if the sales stay that high, Olson could hire more staff.

But, for right now, they voted to just hire the one person, but to still study whether another full-time person would be a good idea.

“I think we need to look at it, and think about it first,” councilman Marty Cassem said. “And not make a quick decision tonight just going by the seat of our pants.”

In other business at last Monday’s meeting, the council:

Voted to still keep the opening date of the Blue Earth Community Pool as orignally set, June 4. They also agreed to continue the hiring process for the swimming pool staff.

Agreed to allow Linda Dusek, an RN, to come to the Senior Citizens Center to perform her once a month foot care clinic for seniors, by appointment only, despite the center being closed.

Discussed some issues which will affect the city with the shut down of the Little Giants Child Care Center at the city-owned Ag Center.

Little Giants has a USDA loan through the city, Mayor Scholtes said, so he wanted to make sure that payment could be made or if other arrangements would need to be made.

The council instructed city staff to investigate any implications of the shut down for the city, and to report at the next meeting.

Decided to keep the tennis courts open but to limit the tennis to family groups, no large groups of kids, and no more than four people per court.

Dog parks remain open, but no more than two persons inside at a time.

After a long discussion voted to approve a variance for the installation of a fence within one foot of the property line at a residence at 806 S. Gorman St., owned by Loma Roggenkamp.

The council had given a preliminary OK at their last meeting but had required a survey to be made.

Mayor Scholtes explained at last Monday’s meeting that there are some boundaries in the city that are off by as much as six feet when a survey is made.

At the meeting, the council again voted to OK the variance without a survey, if Roggenkamp can get the neighbors on the north side of her property to sign off on having the fence built.