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Employees at Big Lake’s municipal liquor store will continue to see a pay raise on their check stubs until at least April 22.

Lake Liquors manager Greg Zurbey went to the Big Lake City Council on March 25 seeking a wage increase through April 8.

The City Council extended the $4 an hour wage increase for another two weeks.

Zurbey shared some liquor store data in justifying his request.

From March 15-28, customer counts were up 10 percent, sales were up 72 percent, and profits were up 64 percent over a similar two-week period from March 1-14.

The wage increase extension passed on a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Paul Knier dissenting.

Like he did two weeks prior, Knier advocated a $2 wage increase as opposed to the $4 approved by the Council.

“I’m going to be ther jerk in the room. Sorry,” Knier prefaced.

“I really appreciate the liquor store staff and the good job their doing,” he said.

But the City of Big Lake is operating under difficult times, Knier said. And while the liquor store is bringing in great revenue, that revenue might be needed in other places, he said.

Knier made a motion to extend the liquor store wage increase at a $2 an hour level. That motion died because no councilmember seconded the motion.

Councilmember Scott Zettervall, who two weeks ago made the original motion to grant a $4 pay increase, put his support behind the measure once again.

“I think $4 an hour extra was the right adjustment then and is the right adjustment now,” Zettervall said.

“It was the right thing to do two weeks ago and is the right thing to do and keep going,” he said.

Zettervall said he believes a $4 increase keeps the liquor store staff motivated and coming to work under trying conditions.

Councilmember Rose Johnson added that the $4 wage increase helps in offsetting wages lost due to a reduction in staffing because of a decrease in operating hours at Lake Liquors.

“I think $2 is enough, but I respect your opinions,” Knier said prior to the vote.

During the discussion, Mayor Mike Wallen noted about the liquor store staff, “It’s a really nice feeling to see people actually smiling and still joking with you.”

The Big Lake City Council will revisit the wage issue at its April 22 meeting.

Reach Jeff Hage at



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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