4/7/2017 9:58:00 AM Chisago City gears up for Sunday sales, softens penalties
by LEILANI FREEMAN
The Chisago City Council on March 28 unanimously approved a revised liquor ordinance that now includes microbreweries, tap rooms and (effective July) alcoholic beverage sale on Sunday. The council action followed a brief public hearing where no members of the public came to comment.
In addition to consolidating existing on and off-sale liquor licenses and fees into a single section; the updated ordinance adds licenses for brewery tap rooms, small brewer off-sale, cocktail room (also known as a tasting room), and microdistillery off-sale. (Off-sale refers to the sale of alcoholic beverages in original packages corked and sealed for consumption off premises.)
Under state law currently in effect, off-sale liquor is allowed between 8 a.m and 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. (Liquor may not be sold on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day or after 8 p.m. Christmas Eve.)
Consistent with a new state law that takes effect on July 2, the revised Chisago City ordinance will allow alcoholic beverage off-sale on Sundays between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. After some discussion, the council amended the revised ordinance to allow the sale of growlers (refillable containers used to transport tap beer/malt liquor for home consumption) on Sundays during the same hours.
City Administrator John Pechman explained that the revised ordinance also changes penalties for liquor license violations.
A facility’s liquor license can now be revoked after four violations within three years. The previous ordinance stated a license could be revoked after three violations in three years. Examples of violations include sale of alcoholic beverages to minors or to intoxicated persons, after-hours sales, and illegal gambling. Violations added to the revised ordinance include: adult entertainment, prostitution, person under 18 serving, and failure to display license. Fines for those type of violations were also changed from $300 to $250 per incident. The revised ordinance will take effect on publication.
In other action: A hearing date was set on Old Towne Road assessments.
The council scheduled an assessment hearing on last year’s Old Towne Road improvement project for 6:35 p.m. April 25. The city’s share of the joint county-city road project was $353,565. On March 28, the council voted to assess a maximum of $150,000 of that cost against properties abutting the roadway and instructed staff to prepare assessment rolls and determine exact per-foot assessment costs in preparation for the April 25 hearing.
Closed session held on Community Center
The council preceded their March 28 meeting with a 30-minute closed session to review an appraisal related to the sale of the Chisago City Community Center. No discussion of the Community Center took place during the open portion of the meeting. Annual audit positive
A representative of the city’s accounting firm Abdo, Eick & Meyers LLP summarized results of the 2016 financial audit. Accountants found no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in internal control of the city’s accounting practices. The auditor stated, “We are giving you an unmodified or clean opinion, which is what you want. We are not reporting any significant audit findings.”
Audit highlights: -The city’s 2016 general fund balance of $1,106,800 rose by $47,012 over 2015. The fund represents 57.8 percent of 2017 budgeted expenditures, which is better than recommended minimums. The general fund helps pay for city operations until the city receives property tax and state aid revenues in the second half of the year. The largest portion of the city’s general fund is spent on public safety ($800,000) followed by general government ($400,000) and public works ($300,000).
-The audit shows that Chisago City spends less per capita than its peers: $365 per capita from its general fund compared to $540 in other communities of the same size.
- The city sells bonds to pay for major public improvements. Chisago City’s outstanding bond debt totals $10.4 million. The audit reports all bond funds have adequate resources to meet their obligations. In 2016, the city’s capital projects fund increased by $168,153 to $793,930.
- Per the audit, Chisago City carries less debt than other cities its size. In 2015 Chisago City’s debt per person was $1,038 compared to $2,517 for its peers. Taxes per capita were also lower at $424 compared to $510 for its peers. In 2016, the city’s debt per capita increased to $1,462, and taxes per capita rose slightly to $456.
-Water and sewer operating revenues are covering water and sewer expenditures by a narrow margin; auditors suggested the city may want to review water and sewer rates in the future.