Giant beer bottle turned down by Nevis City Council
John Halberg criticizes the city for a 'negative business-friendly culture' during a Monday, March 13 meeting heavy on discussion of the Nevis Municipal Liquor Store.
The Nevis City Council on March 13 approved a motion thanking John Halberg for his offer to donate a giant beer bottle to advertise the municipal liquor store, but declining the offer.
Commenting afterward, Halberg questioned the struggling retail market in Nevis, with three of the city’s seven year-round, private retail businesses closing during the past year. He also criticized the muni’s financial performance in 2021 compared to municipal liquor operations in Akeley, Hackensack and Menahga.
“I believe sales volume cures many ills, advertising helps,” he said, citing a negative business-friendly culture and withdrawing his offer to donate “time and treasure” to the city.
Hallgren also complained about a urinal at the muni being broken for over a month and suggested working with a Nevis-based plumber with a better inventory to circumvent the plumbing supply chain.
Muni manager Cindy Paulsen reported that, according to Samuelson Laney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, the part needed to repair the urinal is on manufacturer backorder.
She said the expected time of arrival of the part is unknown, but may be another four to six weeks.
This would be the case regardless of the vendor, she said, adding that the men’s room has a second urinal and a commode, providing ample service in the men’s room.
Another challenge, Paulsen said, is that the pipes run through the blocks in the men’s room’s wall. “The plumbers told me it’s going to be very hard to get to,” she said, adding that this may be a good time to renovate the restrooms.
Paulsen explained the plumbing issue as a valve not shutting off, causing the urinal to run continually.
Also, she said, the other urinal overflowed during the past month and had to be augered out, and the bar drains have been draining slowly and may also need to be augered.
“In all this plumbing havoc, I learned the muni does not have shut-off valves in all the water-flow pipes,” said Paulsen. “We have to actually shut off the main water valve to work on the plumbing, and then turn it back on.”
While the urinal doesn’t have a shut-off valve, she said, “we do need to get in there and get something to shut it off. I think that’s why they need wall access, to get to the shut-off.”
Paulsen also reported:
- Ordering replacement seats and swivels for all 37 bar stools at $500, noting that ball bearings have been dropping out of them and two have failed during her short time with the muni.
- The muni’s new fire alarm system will be installed March 29-30.
- Installation of LED lighting in the basement is complete, and cost less than estimated at $1,220. “The LED lighting was so bright that they used one less light fixture,” Paulsen said.
- She researched the muni’s last three health inspections and found that the muni had no outstanding issues or new orders to comply with as of Jan. 23. The previous inspection report in 2020 was due to a no-mask complaint, and on re-inspection in February 2021 all previous issues had been resolved.
- The muni’s computers have been acting up, with off-sale inventory numbers “just going berserk. They change on their own.” Meanwhile, the on-sale computer system has no support, and Paulsen said she is now trying to do profit-and-loss accounting for both sides of the muni on Excel. Council member Blair Reuther made a motion to have Paulsen find a point-of-sale system integrated with management software for both the on- and off-sale. The motion passed unanimously.
- Paulsen has been including one product in the muni’s monthly newspaper ad, and it has been getting good results. “I think it’s working,” she said.
- An employee who cleans the restrooms has been medically released to return to work.
- All the bartenders are certified with responsible beverage server training.
- Two strong applicants are seeking part-time positions, and Paulsen wants to interview them. She said the muni is currently down two part-time employees, with one of them not expected to return for about three months. Mayor Jeanne Thompson urged her to interview the candidates and bring a recommendation to the council.
- Muni staff is asking for holiday pay, which they received in the past. Thompson said she and City Clerk Dawn Veit will discuss and research what they need to do.
- Paulsen is working with Deputy Josh Oswald on planning this year’s Bands and BBQ.
Pull-tab training remains to be determined, Paulsen said, and the new pull-tab booth is complete and looks great.
However, she reported that the Fire Relief Association wants to take away the bar boxes and sell pull-tabs exclusively from the booth. She recalled that one recent day when no one was manning the booth, and the bar boxes saved the day.
“I really do see having the bar boxes as a win-win situation,” said Paulsen. “We do have the ability to cover for them. The day bartenders really appreciate the added tipping from pull-tabs, and it would be hard to keep part-time, minimum-wage staff during the day otherwise.”
Questioned about overages and shortages in bar box money, Veit said that on a yearly basis, it’s not that much money – but the association doesn’t like it. She added that any shortages come out of the muni’s rent, so the association doesn’t lose any money.
To correct these shortages, Paulsen said she would like the opportunity to audit and verify the bar boxes, noting that at times, the association has taken them away without giving bar staff a chance to count the money or sign off on what they turned in.
Thompson urged Paulsen to meet with Greg Johnson, the association’s gaming director.
Power bill questioned
Reuther questioned the liquor store’s last electric bill, which was over $1,100.
Paulsen said she has seen fluctuations in the muni’s power bill in the past year’s disbursement registers, but didn’t know what caused them.
Council member John Carrier said his business’s electric bill runs in the $5,000 range, depending on sales volume, suggesting the high usage may be due to people opening cooler doors.
“You increase sales, your electric bill is going to go up,” said Carrier, “because the more times your doors are open, the more coolant you’re going to be kicking out.”