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City won't expand liquor license quota

Wal-Mart officials have approached the New Richmond City Council asking that the community expand the number of Class A liquor licenses available to businesses.

Due to its own ordinances, the city currently is limited to four such full liquor licenses and all are spoken for.

Wal-Mart's request received the cold shoulder at Monday's regular council meeting. On a 6-0 vote, council members rejected the proposal to increase the quota of licenses available.

"I'm fine with the quota of four we have right now," Alderman Fred Horne said.

In other business:

• The council approved a leave donation program allowing employees to surrender sick and vacation days to co-workers who have exhausted their own leave due to illness or injury.

City Clerk Joe Bjelland said the policy was based on a similar one adopted by St. Croix County recently.

Bjelland noted that sick or injured employees would only need to accumulate three months of leave, as long-term disability payments kick in after that.

• Alderman Fred Horne presented a proposed municipal code change requiring any policy changes in the New Richmond Police Department to be reviewed and approved by the City Council.

Horne said neither the council nor the Police & Fire Commission reviews changes to the department's policies.

In neighboring communities, Horne said, policy changes are reviewed by either the council or commission.

"It's kind of a check and balance," he explained.

In his experience in business, such a review process is important so that "not any one person can make a change in a document."

The proposal will be considered by the council at a later time.

• The council affirmed that its newly adopted military leave policy will be in effect for as long as an employee is on active duty.

Any employee on active military duty will accrue sick and vacation leaves as if they were still working in New Richmond, and they will receive the difference between their military pay and allowances and what they would make in their city job. No time limit was placed on the policy.

• The city hired Cedar Corp. to provide architectural services for a new street shop to be constructed in the future. The amount of the contract was $72,500. Three other bidders were interested in the work, but their contract proposals were deemed to be more costly.

• The council approved about $300 to provide sober taxi service during the Park Art Fair weekend in early June.

"I think this is a very constructive way to keep our streets safe," Alderman Kirk Van Blaircom said.

• The council approved about $14,500 for a project to combine two business driveways along Knowles Avenue. The cost of the project will be an eligible expense of the Tax Increment Financing #9 district.

The combined driveway will be between the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans office and a chiropractic office (south of the Post Office).

As part of the project, the city purchases 392 feet of main street frontage, which will help make Knowles Avenue expansion possible in the future.

Alderman Fred Horne said the current two driveways are a safety hazard and the project is an opportunity to correct that problem.

• The city has abandoned plans to construct a "safety building" to serve as a site for storage and training for emergency services personnel. Ambulance service officials apparently feel storage and training needs should be addressed when a new ambulance facility is constructed or renovated.

• Paperjack Drive resident Molly Busker asked the council to consider solution to continued speeding problems along the busy road.