After 28 years with the city and a recent critical review, manager Ron Petrofske said he is moving on.
After years of low liquor profits and a recent critical review, Farmington's liquor operations manager resigned this month.
Randy Petrofske, 51, said it was time to move on, and he will shift his focus initially to his rental property business.
City officials are hoping a new manager and other recent changes will pull the city out of last place for liquor store profitability in the metro area. The city has posted an opening for a new manager for the $65,000 to $78,800 a year job.
Petrofske said his departure was not influenced by a critical report of his management that was issued in May by a four-member outside team from the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association. The team reviewed liquor operations and interviewed Petrofske and other officials.
Farmington was the lowest of the 17 metro-area cities that have municipal liquor stores, ranked by profit as a percentage of sales, according to the state auditor's most recent annual liquor report. The city earned $51,000 in 2010, which was less than one-half of a percent of its sales.
Petrofske, of Lakeville, said he has done his best to cut costs and improve profits while running Farmington's two stores for about a decade. He said worked within the confines of a city-owned business and was proud of his performance. He started part-time in 1984.
The council accepted Petrofske's resignation last week. His assistant, Dave Trihus, was appointed interim manager, said City Administrator David McKnight, who is completing his first year on the job.
The Beverage Association report made numerous recommendations, including creating a liquor oversight committee, shifting liquor manager oversight from the city parks director to McKnight, and adopting better inventory controls to improve profits.
McKnight said those recommendations have been accepted. He said profits will be boosted partly because rental expense was reduced for the downtown store when its contract was renewed Aug. 1. He said the new liquor committee will include himself, two council members and two residents.
The report also said Petrofske was slow to provide data which the review team requested and hadn't made some significant changes to improve profits that the association suggested during a prior review in 2007. The new report, issued May 1, said:
"During our visit, liquor management did not have a basic knowledge/strategy of how these items [sales, expenses and profits] relate to each other in your operation."
Management "decisions are based on a strong attitude of defensiveness and excuses. Based on numerous observations and discussions over several years... we strongly question whether this mindset can be overcome."
Asked if Petrofske's departure was related to the report's critique, Mayor Todd Larson said he didn't know, adding that staffing was McKnight's call as administrator. "I am sure Dave talked to him," Larson said. "We [the City Council] told him [McKnight] to figure out how to improve profits."
Petrofske said he had no comment on whether he was forced out.
McKnight said the resignation was a personnel matter and he wouldn't discuss it. Asked if recent changes will turn around profits, McKnight replied, "I would hope so. The council has been very clear in its direction to make improvements to the bottom line of the two stores, and that is what we have to do."
Council Member Christy Jo Fogarty said the city has received helpful advice on marketing from Lakeville's liquor manager and other officials in the beverage association.
"We need more marketing savvy," she said. She expects McKnight will be seeking a new manager with "a stronger retail liquor background."
The city's liquor manager job description, posted on the League of Minnesota Cities website, says the job requires a college degree in business or a related field, three years of supervisory experience and liquor retail experience.