B.E. Council Discusses Fire Department Complaint and Approves Labor Agreement for City Employees

The Blue Earth City Council held a special meeting almost exclusively in closed session on Monday.

During the first closed session, the Council discussed a complaint associated with the Blue Earth Fire Department.    When the Council reopened the meeting, City Attorney David Frundt reported the complaint concerned the department being a hostile work environment and false allegations against an officer.

“The parties involved are unknown,” Frundt clarified.  “The council wants to move forward with authorizing an investigation of the complaint.”

The Council approved an internal investigation into the Fire Department, with Council Member Dan Ristau, a member of the Fire Department, Abstaining.

The Council returned to closed session to discuss a Classification and Compensation Study conducted by Flaherty and Hood and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union contract negotiation.

When the meeting reopened, the Council moved to approve the Classification and Compensation Study and several recommended wage step adjustments for city employees.

The Council also approved a labor agreement between the city and the UFSCME Union.

Apart from negotiated hourly rate increases and approved uses for sick leave, the city also agreed to provide and 80% contribution to the AFSCME Union employees’ monthly family insurance premiums.

Prompted by this potion of the labor agreement, Mayor Rick Scholtes suggested that the city offer the same contribution rate to its staff.

A motion approving the city to make the contribution to city staff’s family insurance premiums passed on a 6-1 vote, with Council Member Ann Hanna in opposition.