By Chad Koenen


In just two months New York Mills residents will head to the polls to vote on changing the city’s charter to potentially become a split liquor city. Currently the only two places in town that serve hard alcohol are the NY Mills VFW Club and the city-owned Mills Liquors. 

On May 11 the City of NY Mills will be holding a special election to potentially change the city charter to become a split liquor city. The vote came after the owners of Mills Lanes and Lucky Strike Grill gathered enough signatures on a petition to request a city-wide vote. 

Mills Liquors is currently one of just two facilities in the city of New York Mills that can serve hard alcohol. A special election in May is seeking to change the city’s charter to allow for more on-site liquor licenses.

If approved by voters, the split liquor license would allow the City of NY Mills to issue up to four hard liquor licenses to either restaurants or hotels in the city limits. Two of the licenses would be granted to the NY Mills VFW club and the city-owned Mills Liquors. 

“It would need to be restaurants, hotels or clubs,” said city clerk/treasurer Julie Roberts. 

If approved by voters, the split liquor license would not affect the number of 3.2 licenses or wine and strong beer licenses within the city limits. The election will be held at the city hall and will be open to just City of NY Mills residents. Absentee ballots will also be available for residents to obtain for the special vote. 

The City of NY Mills is responsible for conducting the election, which includes making sure all of the proper notifications are posted and are also responsible for the voting machines. Roberts said the city is making sure to work through the process and will make sure all of the requirements are being met prior to the election. 

Due to the special election, the city council officially moved its May meeting from Tuesday, May 11 to Monday, May 17 at 4:30 p.m.

State of emergency

During his department report, Utilities Supervisor Kyle Mattson told the council the city is still in a state of emergency. He said the city is coming up on one year from declaring that emergency, due to COVID-19, and asked the council if it would like to rescind its previous declaration.

Mattson said the city declared an emergency on March 18, 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and can reinstate it at a later time should the conditions or circumstances change in NY Mills. At the time of the declaration, Mattson said the city was getting prepared in the event of a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in NY Mills. The emergency declaration could have quickly opened up additional resources for NY Mills. 

Given the current improvements in the COVID-19 pandemic locally, Mattson said the city could rescind its emergency declaration and reinstate it later if conditions were to change. 

“Where we are at, I firmly believe we can probably rescind our declaration of emergency, and if need be, we can always reinstate it,” he said. 

The council said it will discuss potentially rescinding the declaration of emergency at an upcoming meeting.

In other news

• Heard the liquor store report that stated the net revenues for the month of February were down 3.36 percent from last year, which is being attributed to being closed at 11 p.m. each night due to the state restrictions. Gross sales are up at the liquor store by 6 percent year to date as the off-sale continues to post strong numbers compared to last year at this time.

• Heard the annual library report from Julie Adams that showed attendance at the library was down last year, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of items the library owns increased to over 21,600 and its total circulation only dropped slightly despite being forced to shut down due to COVID-19 for a portion of 2020. 

• Heard the fire department responded to 20 calls last month with a majority of them being medical calls. The fire department relief association will also be purchasing a JAWS system for $23,544. The equipment is expected to arrive in April/May. 

• Heard that the police department responded to 85 calls for service, issued 1 citation and made 1 arrest last month. 

• Closed the meeting for an employee review and again to discuss the potential sale of the city garage property.