By Chad Koenen


A special election will be held in May to decide whether New York Mills should become a split liquor community.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday night, the NY Mills City Council approved holding a special election in May to decide whether businesses like Mills Lanes and Lucky Strike Grill should be allowed to apply for a liquor license. Currently just the city-owned Mills Liquor Store and the NY Mills VFW are allowed to sell hard alcohol. 

The special election came about after Dolly Tumberg collected enough signatures to request a special election. The signatures were vetted by the city attorney and more than the required 80 valid signatures were approved.

“They did have enough of the required points and she did have enough of the required signatures that were vetted,” said city clerk/treasurer Julie Roberts.

According to state law the City of NY Mills can hold special elections on just four dates throughout the year, with the first being in February. Dates were also available in April, May and November.

After speaking with Otter Tail County Auditor/Treasurer Wayne Stein, Roberts requested that the special election be held in May to allow the city time to plan and hold the special election.

“I would like to push and try to do the special election in May and that is at the request of Wayne (Stein),” said Roberts. “He said that is the best time to do a special election because the snowbirds are home and we won’t need to deal with weather related items.”

Roberts said the city will be in charge of all of the notifications of the election, making sure the voting machines are in working order and will be required to cover the cost of the special election itself. 

“The city is going to have to do all of the things the county normally does for us in an election,” said Roberts. 

The council approved moving forward with the split liquor special election in May. If a majority of voters approve the measure the City of NY Mills will offer additional liquor licenses for businesses and restaurants to apply to serve hard alcohol. 



No one showed up to the annual Truth-in-Taxation hearing at the City of NY Mills. Roberts took council members through a presentation showing tax capacities for both NY Mills and neighboring communities. 

NY Mills’ proposed tax levy increase will be 3.38 percent next year, which was close to the mid range for Otter Tail County communities. Increases ranged from as low as 0 percent for Dent and Vining to as high as 30 percent in Richville. Meanwhile, Parkers Prairie, Ottertail and Perham ranged in tax levy increases from 3 to 3.87 percent. 

The 2021 levy will increase from $521,325 in 2020 to $538,798. The levy did decrease about $4,000 from what was proposed in September. 

One of the highlights Roberts mentioned during the meeting was the ability for the City of NY Mills to keep its outstanding debt around 169,000. Roberts credited former city clerk/treasurer Darla Berry for her work in scheduling bonds out in order to avoid sharp increases in debt from one year to the next.

“Credit to Darla for scheduling things out and not putting on new debt until some came off. That really helps with keeping that tax increase down to those smaller numbers,” said Roberts. “So we did not have to increase when we got a new bond. It was kind of a planning process.  

In other news

• Heard the liquor store report that showed that combined gross sales for November were down 5 percent from the prior year. Part of the reason given was there was no entertainment on Thanksgiving Eve due to COVID-19 restrictions in place from Governor Tim Walz. Despite all of the challenges with COVID-19, the liquor store’s year to date net revenues are up over 60 percent this year. 

• Heard the fire department responded to 15 calls during the month of November. Most of the calls were medical responses.

• Heard that the police department responded to 80 calls for service in November and issued two citations and made one arrest. 

• Approved a 3 percent pay equity increase for city staff members. 

• Acknowledged a $15,000 donation from Brunswick for the softball concession complex project at Lund Park, a $1,000 donation in CARES Act Funding from Homestead Township for the NY Mills Fire Department, $5,200 in CARES Act Funding from Newtown Township for the NY Mills Fire Department $4,267.68 in CARES ACT Funding from Otto Township to the NY Mills Fire Department, $4,372.71 in CARES Act Funding from Butler Township to the NY Mills Fire Department, $1,200 in CARES Act Funding from Deer Creek Township to the NY Mills Fire Department and $500 from Diane Duchene to the NY Mills Fire Department. 

• Discussed several changes to the employee handbook. Among the changes were no longer paying out vacation time to employees who pass away while working with the City of NY Mills. The change was made because the city increased its life insurance policy from $10,000 to $50,000 for employees which would be greater, than the unused vacation time. Other changes included things like taking the utility director off of the regular weekend call schedule and changes with family leave for adoption to more directly coincide with the family leave policy. The council also discussed vacation accrual and the possibility of decreasing the amount of time that can be accrued from 160 hours to just 80 hours. Councilman Jerry Nesland said employees should be encouraged to use their vacation time for the betterment of their mental health and well-being, but the policy was left in tact at this time.