A major portion of the May 2 Braham City Council meeting was devoted to the impact of Sunday liquor sales, allowed beginning July 1 as a result of a new state law.
Liquor store manager Jacque Nordby was present to lead the council through the implications of the new law.
“I think it is a good idea if we are open. If we are closed it would be sending a bad message,” she said.
The proposed Sunday open hours would be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The law allows for another two hours with a closing of 6 p.m. However, Nordby stated, “I just don’t think we have to be open until 5 or 6.”
There are some exceptions to the possibilities offered by the new state law. Nordby pointed out that Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year.
“We’ve always been open on Christmas Eve day. Legally we can be open until 8 p.m., (when Christmas Eve falls on a weekday) but we’ve always closed at 4 p.m.,” she said. The proposed hours for Christmas Eve are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Easter Sunday we will be closed,” she said, looking ahead to 2018. “I don’t want to be open on that day. I am not going to make any of my employees work on that day either. It is going to be tricky enough to get people to work on a Sunday when it is usually a family day or a church day.”
Mayor Tish Carlson asked about paying employees time and a half on holidays.
Nordby responded, “Holidays are double time,” and then reminded the council that Easter is not a factor, since the store is not open.
Council Member Traci Leaf expressed a preference for an earlier opening on Sundays, 10 a.m., and was reminded by Nordby the new law does not allow opening before 11 a.m.
“Monday through Saturday is 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can further restrict it at the city level. Since I started 24 years ago, it has always been 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and then 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday,” Nordby said.
Nordby indicated other stores in the area will be trying similar hours.
“We’ve definitely got to be open and give it a try. Everybody is going to re-evaluate at the end of the year and probably scale back during the winter,” she said.
Nordby said after an evaluation of Sunday sales, hours might change.
“After the six month evaluation (of Sunday sales) some stores may actually not be opening until 10 a.m., an hour later, Monday through Thursday or at least Monday through Wednesday to kind of compensate for some of those hours,” she said.
Nordby raised a concern about the real impact of Sunday sales.
“From what we have heard from Colorado and Connecticut, who have done it for the last five, six, eight years, the money is not there. The expenses are there, but the money coming in is not,” she said.
“The $10.1 (million) or $10.8 million that they (proponents of Sunday liquor sales) are saying we will gain in tax revenue is just a number that they pulled out of the air to satisfy the public. It’s just not true. There is no research. There are no facts,” she said.
Nordby predicted sales on Fridays and Saturdays would be decrease and those customers would shop on Sundays instead.
“I don’t know how much it will affect our Mondays because that is our senior discount day,” she added and suggested Tuesdays might be negatively affected. “We will see a decrease on one of the other days for sure.”
Nordby said after Labor Day, the city will have a better idea of the impact of Sunday sales.
In other action, the council:
• Accepted bids on three vehicles and a set of 12 Christmas decorations for street poles that had been offered to the public.
• Heard a report from Kyla Rippey on the Braham Appreciation Day Committee on some changes to this year’s celebration. The events will be moved to the City Hall parking lot and Second Street Southwest alongside City Hall.
• Accepted the resignation of Council Member Wayne Seiberlich due to his moving to a home outside the city limits. Seiberlich had actually submitted his resignation at a special council meeting April 14, which had been called for the specific purpose of voting on extending broadband service to the industrial park. Because it was a special meeting, Seiberlich’s resignation could not be officially accepted. The term for his now vacant seat ends Dec. 31, 2018. People interested in serving on this seat can submit a letter of interest to the council explaining why they would like to be part of the council and any qualifications they would bring with them.
At that earlier meeting, the council voted to move forward with the project to run broadband to the industrial park, on the recommendation of the city’s Economic Development Association.
– The next meeting of the City Council will be at 7 p.m. June 6 at Braham City Hall.