Municipal Liquor Profits: Giving Back to the Community

When you walk through the doors at any one of the City’s three municipal liquor stores, you pass by a message that says, “Giving Back to the Community” – it’s an important message, and one that I’d like to elaborate on a little.


Municipal liquor stores have been in operation since the United States government repealed prohibition in 1933, giving individual states the responsibility and authority to regulate liquor sales. At that time, the Minnesota legislature gave cities the option of issuing liquor licenses to private businesses or providing municipal alcohol dispensing services.

Eden Prairie, along with more than 300 other cities, chose to operate municipal liquor stores. This choice not only allows for greater control over liquor being sold and consumed in the City, but also further diversifies the City’s revenue sources – because it allows us to invest liquor store profits back into the community.

The City’s three Eden Prairie Liquor store locations generate more than $1-million in profits annually.

And within the past year, those profits helped to fund a portion of the following Capital Improvement projects:

  • Community Center Aquatics and Fitness Expansion
  • New Fire Department Ladder Truck
  • Franlo Park Tennis Court Renovations
  • Playground Equipment Replacements

In other words, profits generated at the municipal liquor stores directly fund a number of improvements in our city – which also helps offset the amount of taxpayer dollars needed for these projects.

So next time you pass by that message, you’ll know that your choice to shop at Eden Prairie Liquor makes it possible for us to give back to the community.

2016 Budget Engagement

EP CITY CONNECTOur City Council has been preparing for the adoption of the 2016-2017 City of Eden Prairie budget since the beginning of this year. They have conducted workshops and devoted Council meeting time to analyzing and discussing the proposed two-year budget. Even though we prepare a two-year budget, the 2016 budget and tax levy needs to be approved by the City Council before the end of this year.

Feedback is an important element of any local government action — especially the approval of an annual City budget. Much of the feedback we receive on our budget happens to occur at meetings. But we understand that people are busy and do not always have the time to attend a meeting or write to the City Council. For that reason, the City launched a new online platform called CITY CONNECT two years ago for sharing thoughts, ideas and insights on City government-related topics.

With CITY CONNECT, you can now learn more about the proposed budget by viewing a series of videos organized by City department. This can all be done from the convenience of your computer or mobile device.

To explore this platform and connect with others in the community on the proposed budget, visit

We are listening and appreciate any feedback you may have on the 2016 budget process.


A very important service that our City government provides is administering elections.

Our City Clerk, Kitty Porta, is the point person and the leader of all-things elections in Eden Prairie. She does an excellent job of overseeing all facets of the election process including: election judge staffing and training; managing election equipment; providing for polling places; and much much more. She would say that each election is a big deal — whether it involves the President of the United States, the Governor, a U.S. Senator, a state representative, or an Eden Prairie City Council member. However, some elections are bigger events than others. The fact is that there are many more people voting in a presidential election, which creates the local need for more time, money and energy. voting booth

Our City works closely with Hennepin County in conducting our elections. We would consider ourselves partners. For example, next year will be another Presidential election year and there are a number of changes on the horizon where the City and County will need to work together. I will highlight three of those areas below by sharing a communication that our City received from the Hennepin County Assistant Administrator-

Absentee Voting

With the advent of “no-excuse” absentee voting in 2014, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of absentee ballots in Hennepin County, increasing the burden on cities to process these ballots.

To relieve cities of some of this burden, Hennepin County will begin processing all mail absentee ballots in 2016, including processing mail absentee requests, sending and receiving mail ballots, accepting and rejecting mail ballots, and counting and reporting mail ballot results.

This will allow city elections staffs to focus on in-person absentee activity and prepare for Election Day. Cities will still be in-person absentee balloting locations and conduct health care facility absentee balloting, as in the past, and will need to administer their own Absentee Ballot Boards for those ballots.

Roll of "I voted" stickers for early voters at the Eustis Memorial Library.Electronic Poll Books

In 2014, the state legislature authorized the use of electronic poll books. These devices are secure tablet or laptop computers that replace the current paper voter check-in process. Hennepin County plans to implement these devices in polling places in 2016. These will:

  • Speed up lines at the polls
  • Help election judges through each step of the process, including election day registration
  • Allow instantaneous absentee ballot updates to be received wirelessly
  • Provide cities data on polling place activity and Election Judge performance
  • Enable cities to hire fewer election judges eventually by making polling places more efficient

The most successful vendor proposals will be tested in a live election this fall. After an early 2016 purchase, Hennepin County will train cities and provide training materials for election judges. Cities will then store the devices, prepare them for Election Day, and train election judges on their use.

 Election Judge Training

Hennepin County is working to make the task of training election judges easier by creating an online election judge training portal. The portal will allow cities to upload their own training content and election judges to sign in and view training from anywhere. The portal is planned to be ready for use in the first quarter of 2016. It will:

  • Allow cities to continue delivering their own training and share material with each other easily
  • Track when election judges have completed training courses
  • Provide an easy way to deliver last-minute training to replacement judges
  • Enable election judges to refresh themselves by reviewing completed courses at any time
  • Reduce the amount of time city staff spend delivering in-person training sessions

The use of the portal is completely optional, and cities can choose for themselves how it fits with their training plans. Hennepin County will provide information on what has worked well in other jurisdictions to help guide the city in its decisions. Cities will still need to develop their own training materials and presentations for uploading to the portal and will still need to perform any necessary in-person election judge training.

Students on Commissions

In Eden Prairie we have a Students on Commissions program that gives high school students an opportunity to learn about local government by serving on one of our five City commissions:

The students apply to serve on one of the above Commissions and are subsequently appointed by the City Council. They will be expected to attend the regular monthly meetings of the commissions. They will also receive the same meeting packet materials that we provide to our regular commission members. Aside from attending the meetings and receiving the materials, we strongly encourage them to participate in the discussions at the meetings. We want them to provide their feedback and actively participate in the meetings as a regular Commission members would.

Students on CommissionsWe conduct this program each year because we feel it is important to help educate Eden Prairie students about local government.  This is basically our small part in teaching citizenship to the youth of Eden Prairie — in a live setting.

Yesterday we conducted an orientation session for our new student Commissioners. We provided an overview of the City governance structure and City operations. The orientation concluded with small group discussions the students had with their respective staff liaisons. The students begin their service to the City starting with their Commission meetings in September.

We are looking forward to their involvement and input.

Water Tower Paint Job

Back in 19Eden Prairie Market Center Water Tower97, the City of Eden Prairie constructed the 2-million-gallon Market Center Water Tower which soars high above our commercial center near Eden Prairie Center mall. Since its initial construction, this water tower has been a cornerstone of our water system and has allowed our community to mature into the City that exists today.

Most modern-day above-ground water towers are essentially the composition of a massive steel basin on top of a concrete stem. Because the steel basin is exposed to the elements, it is highly susceptible to the negative effects of oxidation (or corrosion). Protecting this steel and concrete structure is a thin coating of a specialized paint material. This coating is applied to both the interior and exterior of the water tower and allows the City to extend the useful life of the structure thereby maximizing our initial investment.

Eden Prairie Water Tower RenderingLike your home, water towers must be recoated with a fresh layer of paint every 15 to 20 years. Because the tower is now 18 years old it is in need of a fresh coat of paint. We intend to apply this new coat of paint in 2016. This project also provides us with the opportunity to refresh the visuals and the lettering on the structure. The rendering to the left provides an idea of what residents and travelers in the area could expect to see as they pass near this south metro landmark toward the end of 2016.