Lakeland Currents: Bemidji Municipal Liquor Stores
The Minnesota State auditor reported that in 2016, there were 195 Minnesota cities operating 228 municipal liquor stores in the state. Cities, according to the auditor’s office, were originally authorized to own and operate liquor establishments as a means to control the sale of alcohol. Proceeds from municipal liquor stores also provide cities additional revenue, in addition to traditional taxes and fees. Bemidji operates two municipal liquor stores, both of which have had a notable year. The state Legislature opted earlier this year to end a 159-year-old ban on Sunday liquor sales, giving liquor stores the option to stay open on Sundays. Also this year, the Bemidji City Council voted to fund a major construction project for its north store. We welcome to the program Nate Mathews, the Bemidji city manager, and Ron Eischens, the Bemidji finance director, to discuss municipal liquor operations in Bemidji.