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Council approves Event Center rate increase

The lobby of the Worthington Event Center is shown in this file photo. (Daily Globe file photo)

WORTHINGTON — It will be a little more expensive to reserve the Worthington Event Center on a weekend.

During its regular meeting Monday night, the city council approved a rate increase on Friday and Saturday nights.

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The 49 events that are currently under contract would not be affected by the rate change, but the increase in bar prices would begin Dec. 1.

On a Saturday night, the full room will now be $1,350 – or $150 increase. The Friday night rate is now $950, or $50 more. The weekday rate remains the same at $700.

For a half-room, a Saturday night fee is now $900 (up from $800). The Friday night rate also increases by $50 (now $650) and a weekday rate is still $700.

“We feel this would be a good time to do it as I am already booked into the end of October in 2014,” said Sales and Event Manager Jackie Tentinger.

In addition to the basic fee schedule, the management group —Worthington Hotel Group, LLC —wants to establish package prices for corporate meetings, bereavements and patio/garden events.

The Event Center has hosted more than 30 events since its opening in May, and has netted the city $5,579.13.

“My cumulative revenue from each event is lower than I expected,” Tentinger said. “That’s in the 20 years experience and looking at other places and the revenues they make out of wedding events.”

In other news, the council heard a report of local businesses that failed alcohol compliance checks for underage alcohol consumption or furnishing alcohol to a minor. Travel Express, Video Lupita, El Horizonte, El Taco, Tacos Lupe, Bob and Steve’s Shell, Panda House, Tienda La Morenita and the Worthington Liquor Store were all issued a first-offense violation. Ground Round was issued a second offense.

A first offense is a weekend suspension or a $500 fine or the option to purchase a card reader to verify ages. A second offense is a week suspension or a $1,000 fine. Video Lupita opted for a card reader, unless cost prohibitive, then will opt for a weekend suspension. El Taco and Panda House each took the suspension, while Tacos Lupe and Bob and Steve’s Shell had a $500 fine. Ground Round opted for a $1,000 fine. Tienda La Morenita is not currently licensed, but will be submitting an application. It will then take a weekend suspension.

The liquor store had a $500 penalty and mandatory attendance at an alcohol compliance class for the manager.

Council member Mike Kuhle noted the liquor store was treated the same as any other business.

Each offense occurred between Dec. 1, 2011 and May 5, 2012. The businesses each agreed to waive their right to a public hearing and agreed to the penalties. Fines received will go toward expenses for the alcohol compliance checks.

If any business has a third offense and the second violation is within three years of the first violation and the third violation is within five years of the first violation, the penalty would be a 14-day suspension and a $1,500 fine.

The council approved Mark Thier to utilize Sunset Park gravel parking area to store an estimated 30 boat lifts. The city will collect a $500 fee from Thier for the first 30 and then would be charged incrementally for any other 30.

A contract for services between the city and county attorney was approved on a 4-1 vote. The city is responsible for 25 percent of the total expense. The annual budget was $680,792. The city’s share is $170,198 annually or $14,183.17 per month.

A year ago, the cost was nearly $30,000 less. The addition of the cost is equal to one percent on property tax, council member Ron Wood said.

“We may not have a choice, but I’m not very happy about getting it on Oct. 28,” Wood said.

Kuhle asked about the percentage that is the city’s share.

 “There was a lot of work done to come up with that,” Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh said of the 25 percent mark.

You don’t specifically track case by case?” council member Scott Nelson asked. “You just try to make an estimation that it’s a fourth of the case load.”

County Attorney Kathy Kusz said she doesn’t keep track of how much time her office spends on city cases compared to others.

 “Are we getting value, or closure. Is the police department happy with the amount of closure we’re getting?” Oberloh asked.

“It is my understanding that the police department is happy,” Kusz said.              

The council heard a presentation from the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force.

 “They have become a model task force throughout the state of Minnesota,” Director of Public Safety Mike Cumiskey said.

Commander Troy Appel gave an hour presentation to the council about the BRDTF, which covers 1,839 square miles and a population of 39,699.

 “If the drugs aren’t there, maybe there’s a kid who can’t use for the first time,” Appel said. “That’s one area where I know we’re making a huge difference.”                           

 In 2013, BRDTF had seized $204,725 worth of drugs and made 124 arrests.