Cannabis dispensary application approved

Council amends contract with city manager

BROOKINGS – The Brookings City Council approved an application by Déjà vu SD to open a medical cannabis dispensary at 604 First Ave. and amended its contract with City Manager Paul Briseno.

Council votes Tuesday on both items were unanimous.

Medical cannabis dispensary

City Clerk Bonnie Foster explained that a medical cannabis application had been submitted by Déjà vu SD from Sheraz Warraich and Amar Warraich, and they hold a purchasing agreement for the property in question.

Councilor Joey Collins asked about the procedure and whether the application had gone to the state for its approval.

City Attorney Steve Britzman said it hadn’t yet.

Sheraz Warraich was available by Zoom and said once the city approves the application, it will go to the state.

“The state developed a certification document which would indicate that the license has been approved locally,” Britzman said.

Councilor Wayne Avery asked Britzman if the state had started to issue medical cannabis cards. 

“There have been a few; I think one West River … was issued as the first one,” Britzman said. 

Avery asked if there were any restrictions on where the medical marijuana comes from, if it has to come from inside South Dakota.

All the product has to come from licensed cultivation, “nothing can come from outside of the state; it has to be regulated by the state,” Warraich said.

Mayor Ope Niemeyer asked if there was marijuana growing now in South Dakota to be processed for medical marijuana, “that we will eventually have you dispensing in our community?”

“Yes, I believe so,” Warraich said, adding the state wasn’t regulating any currently. “The only dispensary in the state that’s operating is on native land. And I really don’t know too much about that, to be honest.”

Councilor Leah Brink noted that the 55-page application “seemed, to me, very comprehensive. There was a lot of detail in there and I appreciated that.”

The full application can be viewed as an attachment to the agenda on the city’s website.

City manager contract

Niemeyer explained the amendment in Resolution 21-114.

The position of city manager is appointed by the city council, he said. The council entered into an employment agreement with Paul Briseno on April 24, 2018.

The council has determined “it is appropriate to increase the manager’s salary by 2%, resulting in a total annual salary of $161,367.55,” Niemeyer said, and the city will also contribute 2% to the city manager’s compensation to a deferred compensation plan, selected by the city manager.

The council decided to amend Section 12 of the contract, Niemeyer said.

“The resolution allows for city council to make adjustments to the city manager’s compensation package based on performance and merit,” according to the attachment to the agenda.

“The resolution also adds language to the employment agreement to limit the city council’s ability to terminate the city manager without cause within the 60 days following the seating of a new city council member so as to allow any newly elected or appointed member(s) of the city council sufficient time to observe the actions and ability of the city manager to perform the duties of their office. This does not limit the termination with cause,” according to the attachment.

“The city manager is responsible for furthering the advancement and achievement of the city council’s Strategic Plan and five focus areas of fiscal responsibility; safe, inclusive and connected community; service and innovation excellence; sustainability; and economic growth,” according to the attachment. 

Councilor Nick Wendell noted that the council has the responsibility to evaluate the city manager on a regular basis and adjust the compensation according to the evaluation.

“I think this is an appropriate, merit-based increase in the compensation. And it aligns well with the increase that other city employees in the organization will receive, going into 2022,” Wendell said.

Niemeyer said the council spoke to Briseno in executive session about his performance in the past year.

“We all seem to be in agreement that Paul did a pretty good job this last year,” Niemeyer said.

“I look forward to big things this year. We’ve got lots of opportunities to do some wonderful things for the community. And I think we all as a council are 100% behind Paul on trying to pull off another good year,” Niemeyer said.

“I know as mayor for the first year, it’s been good to have Paul as a mentor to adjust my approach on things and make comments to me,” Niemeyer said.

Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected].