When it comes to giving back to the City, Monticello’s municipal liquor store ranks among the top in greater Minnesota.

As a matter of fact, just five municipal liquor stores in greater Minnesota transferred more money back to it’s city’s operations than Monticello in 2018, according to an annual review of municipal liquor store performance released by Minnesota State Auditor Julie Blaha.

Monticello’s Hi-Way Liquors posted a net profit of $710,353 in 2018 and returned $530,000 to help fund the operations of the City of Monticello. Only Elk River ($689,174), Fergus Falls ($584,369), Cambridge ($563,000), Fairmont ($560,000) and Park Rapids ($549,616) had municipal liquor stores transfer more money to their city operations. 

Profitable municipal liquor operations provide another revenue stream for things such as building maintenance, capital equipment and bond payments and often represent a direct relief to the city’s taxpayers. In Monticello, the ball field improvements at Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Athletic Park are being funded by the profits at Hi-Way Liquors. 

Monticello’s Hi-Way Liquors had another banner year in 2018 as its sales grew to number five among city-operated liquor stores in greater Minnesota.

That’s the word from the Minnesota State Auditor’s office, which has released its annual report card of municipal liquor store performance.

During the first full year that Minnesota liquor stores could opt to open on Sundays, Monticello’s municipal liquor sales grew to $6.09 million, according to the State Auditor’s office. That’s an increase in sales of $335,815 over the $5.75 million in sales reported for 2017.

Monticello’s sales success at its municipal liquor store cash registers mirrors that of a state-wide trend in liquor store sales, where sales statewide increased $11.3 million in 2018, according to Minnesota State Auditor Julie Blaha.

According to State municipal liquor store sales reports, the top six municipal liquor stores, in terms of sales, were located within the Twin Cities metro area. Lakeville posted the top municipal liquor store sales with $15.2 million in 2018, the auditor’s report states. Lakeville was followed by Edina ($13.4 million), Richfield ($11.5 million), Eden Prairie ($10.8 million), Apple Valley ($9.4 million) Columbia Heights ($8.5 million).

Elk River led greater Minnesota municipal liquor stores with $7.2 million in municipal liquor store sales. Detroit Lakes ($7.1 million), Hutchinson ($6.2 million) and Fergus Falls ($6.1 million) were the only greater Minnesota municipal liquor stores to out-perform Monticello’s $6.090 million in sales, the auditor’s report states.

Breaking Monticello’s 2018 sales figures down even further, Hi-Way Liquors reported a cost of sales of $4.546 million on its $6.090 million in sales. That gave the local liquor operation a gross profit on sales of $1.544 million, or 25.4 percent.

Figure in operating expenses, and Hi-Way Liquors posted a net profit of $710,353 in 2018. That figure represents 11.7 percent of sales.

Of that $710,353, the liquor store transferred $530,000 back to the operations of the city and represents more than $500,000 of Monticello’s operating budget that was not put on the shoulders of city taxpayers.

The $530,000 Monticello transferred from the liquor store to city operations was sixth among the top 15 municipal liquor stores in the state. In 2017, $180,000 was transferred from the liquor store to city operations.

Reach Jeff Hage at jeff.hage@ecm-inc.com


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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