MN Cities with Municipally-Owned Liquor Stores Challenge Legislators
150 cities, including Barnesville and Fergus Falls, stand with the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association
BARNESVILLE, Minn. – For some cities in Minnesota, like Barnesville, a big part of their revenue comes from the sale of one thing: liquor.
“It allows us to provide some transfers into the general fund to keep property taxes down. In the past, we’ve been able to do that, and it’s a nice benefit to the community,” said Mike Rietz, the Barnesville City Administrator.
Grocery stores in Minnesota are allowed to sell beverages that contain 3.2 percent alcohol.
Some municipal liquor store managers are worried the competition could hurt the city financially.
“If we’re making a profit, the city’s making a profit. We can provide more services for our community. When we run in a deficit, we’re hurting our town,” said Randi Trowbridge, the Store Manager for Fire Hall Liquors, which is owned by the City of Barnesville.
State legislators say that this push by grocers could disrupt an established three–tier system in Minnesota that draws the line between manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.
“That’s something that specifically the distributors and also the distillers and brewers as we’re seeing more and more craft brewers and craft distillers pop up. They don’t want to be pushed out by the larger businesses in the liquor industry,” said State Representative Ben Lien.
But these cities are making a stand. Barnesville and Fergus Falls are two of the150 communities teaming up with the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association (MMBA) to fight this legislation.
Barnesville’s City Council recently passed a resolution supporting MMBA and their goal to keep municipal liquor stores vibrant in the city’s economy.
“They do a great job of supporting municipal liquor operations statewide. It’s really a good feeling knowing we have a group like that helping support our interests,” said Rietz.
Other nearby Minnesota cities that own liquor stores include Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, and Mahnomen.
The next Minnesota legislative session begins January 8.