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City’s municipal bar profitable; what’s the plan after it’s sold?

June 29, 2012
Marshall Independent

To the editor:

My name is Sherri Jessen. I am the manager of the Lake Benton municipal bar and have been the manager for almost five years. I am writing this letter to the editor in regards to the sale of the bar, because there appears to be a lot of misinformation or misunderstanding as to information that is available as it relates to the bar operations.

First, the bar is more than self-sufficient and has provided a good source of revenue for the city of Lake Benton during the almost five years since I have managed it. None of your tax dollars have been put into the barr account since I became manager in 2007. The only money put into the bar from the general fund was for a remodel that occurred before I became manager.

Second, the bar pays one-third of the annual city audit, which is $3,400 of the $10,200 audit cost.

Third, the bar pays one-third of city insurance, which is $3,200 annually, which is above and beyond our liquor liability insurance.

Fourth, in the last 12 months, the bar paid $6,000 in unemployment compensation that should have been challenged and not paid (which should be decreased going forward if the bar were to remain open). The also pays one-third of city bookkeeping expenses every month.

I question where all the money to pay for the significant expenses that the bar contributes will come from once the bar is sold. The bar also funds youth programs from sales of pulltabs - money that will no longer be available. When the bar is sold there will be five legitimate unemployment claims against the city, which will need to be paid from the city's general fund and tax dollars. There will be additional losses suffered by the city that will need to be funded. I have not heard any plan by the city where such money will come from.

Fifth, the bar sales for saddle horse weekend have been up every year in the almost five years I have managed along with our yearly totals. When all information is fairly considered, we are more profitable. 2012 is also a very promising year with sales up $6,000, the most successful saddle horse day weekend reported and with two weddings planned in August.

If any of this concerns you, you should call your elected council and voice your opinion on this sale. I encourage you to do this, not because I intend to continue to manage the bar should the city's plan to sell it change or fail, but because it is important to me that everyone in Lake Benton have a voice in this important decision and have complete information.

We are proud to say we have served you for almost five years and our staff has received excellent reviews from customers and the Minnesota Health Department. The Minnesota Health Department reported to me recently that the bar is one of the most clean bars in the state of Minnesota. I thank everyone who has supported the bar and for all the friendships we have made.

Sherri Jessen




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