Spring Lake Park Council amends liquor store reorganization plan

Spring Lake Park City Council members have approved an amended Central Park Liquors reorganization plan after discussing the matter during a long workshop.

Salary cuts and position changes affecting three full-time Spring Lake Park liquor managers were part of the original council plan to maximize store profits.

City leaders originally approved the business reorganization July 2 after reviewing recommendations made by the city’s three-member liquor commission.

Mayor Cindy Hansen, Councilmember Bill Nash and City Administrator Barb Nelson met June 6 to review the store’s staff and organizational structure.

According to Nelson, current and past liquor commissions have worked to maximize profits and taken such measures such as changing the store’s advertising strategy, eliminating a full-time position and freezing wages. The liquor commission decided that the store had too many employees carrying manager titles.

Joyce Swanson was Central Park Liquors director of operations, Laura Saastamoinen was store manager and Sue Norsten was the assistant store manager.

Two weeks ago, the liquor commission recommended and the council concurred that Swanson’s director of operations position be retitled to store manager and the annual salary reduced from $75,880 to $65,880.

The store manager and assistant store manager positions were combined into a single employee position.

Nelson said at the time the current store manager salary was $60,432 and the assistant store manager salary was $43,190; the new proposed salary range for the assistant store manager was set at $38,008 to $48,728. The changes left one full-time position for two employees, Nelson said.

The liquor commission recommended this position be advertised, allowing the existing employees to apply.

However, during a July 9 workshop, council members and staff agreed to take a slightly different approach to the restructuring as a means of reducing advertising costs as well as maintaining stability in staffing.

Council members agreed Monday night that the existing positions of store manager and assistant store manager would still be combined and a new assistant store manager position created, but the new store position would not be advertised, Nelson said.

Saastamoinen will become the assistant store manager with an adjusted salary at the top of a new range ($48,728), a move that would save the city $11,704.

“It is felt that since this employee possesses the knowledge and skills required of the position and is already very familiar with our store, our community and our customers, she would in all likelihood be our top choice among other applications,” Nelson wrote in a background memo.

Norsten’s position at Central Park Liquors was cut. According to Nelson, that move saves $43,190 in salary and benefit.

That total did not include severance and unemployment benefits to be paid, Nelson said Monday.

“The new recommended changes [still] result in an annual savings of $64,894 and doesn’t require classified ads expenditures for an open position,” she said.

According to Nelson, a new part-time night lead clerk position would remain in the restructuring plan; job responsibilities for that position would be performed by an existing employee.

City leaders unanimously approved the amended Central Park Liquors reorganization plan 4-0.

Councilmember Dale Dahl was not in attendance at Monday night’s meeting.

Tim Hennagir is at [email protected]