- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - More sales at Minnesota municipal liquor stores last year didn’t mean more money for the cities that run them.

The state’s 237 municipal stores pulled in a record $332.8 million in 2013, up 1 percent from 2012, according to a state auditor’s report released Tuesday. But net profits still dropped, and the $18.6 million those stores handed over to city coffers was a 19 percent decrease, the Star Tribune reported (http://strib.mn/13FcmDI ).

Paul Kaspszak, executive director of the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association, attributed part of the decline to rising product and labor costs while liquor store prices have remained steady.

Money woes have mostly hit municipal stores in smaller cities, some of which rely on liquor store cash transfers in their budget.

“No politician likes to raise taxes or cut services. For several years, cities have relied more and more on municipal liquor income that used to be paid for out of the general fund,” Kaspszak said.

Thirty-three stores, all of them in greater Minnesota, reported losses last year. That’s up from 25 in 2012.

Shrinking profits at municipal liquor stores could play a role in the perennial fight at the Legislature to legalize Sunday liquor sales. Municipal stores have argued doing away with the “blue law” would increase their costs but not revenues.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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