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Sales are up at city's liquor stores

In this economy, sales are down just about everywhere. Everywhere, maybe, except for Farmington's liquor stores.

That can be good for more than just the city's bottom line, because liquor sales in the city of Farmington go a long way in supporting parks programs and facilities for residents to enjoy.

In a recent report to the Farmington City Council, liquor operations manager Randy Petrofske said sales are down a little at the Pilot Knob store, but are up in the downtown location. Overall sales are up, which means good things for the Farmington outdoor swimming pool.

Farmington has operated municipal liquor stores for decades. Since 1992, though, profits from the liquor operations have been allocated to the city's parks programs.

In the 2009 budget, $75,000 of liquor sales proceeds will go toward funding the outdoor pool. The pool is not a huge money-maker for the city of Farmington -- it usually comes up short. But by using the funds from the liquor store operations, the pool can continue to operate, and taxpayers do not have to foot the extra bill.

In the first half of the year, sales were down a bit at the Pilot Knob location, Petrofske said. He attributed the decrease to competition from stores in neighboring cities, the economy and the cooler summer temperatures. Usually warmer weather means increased sales. But in talking with managers from neighboring municipal stores, that seems to be the case all around.

"It's a little of all three factors," Petrofske told the Farmington City Council July 20. "Nobody is way up right now."

Downtown sales increased in the first half of the year. Enough so, finance director Robin Roland said, that the downtown sales balance out the books. Pilot Knob's sales were down about 1.6 percent, downtown's were up 3.3 percent.

Though Roland did not know exactly when the city of Farmington first started the municipal liquor stores, she said that, since 2005, sales from the liquor operations have accounted for $450,000 to the city's general fund and parks and recreation programs.

"Municipal liquor stores were originally allowed that cities might be in control of alcoholic beverages and sales," she said. "That being that they keep it out of the hands of children and the appropriate laws are enforced within the community. Eventually it also became an opportunity to supplement revenues and offset taxes that the community collects."

Liquor store sales and special events are posted on the city's Web site,