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In better days a 1 percent pay hike for city employees would have raised complaints against the Brainerd City Council for being tightfisted. Those days aren’t here now and they aren’t likely to return soon. 

In today’s brutal economy we have to take exception with the council’s decision to grant a 1 percent hike or any increase for a wide variety of city employees. Workers who received the pay boost were police officers, administrative support, Brainerd Public Utilities staff, park maintenance, the Street and Sewer Department, the city administrator, other department heads and supervisors. 

City negotiations continue with two other unions and the 1 percent hike will, no doubt, will be noticed by those bargaining units.

Council President Mary Koep noted most city wages exceed those of the private sector but after wrestling with the decision she backed the raise.

 “The public needs to know there is value in what these people do,” she said.

The vote in favor of the raise was 5-2 with council members Bob Olson and Kevin Goedker voting no.

While we wholeheartedly agree there’s value in the work city employees perform, the same is equally true of the many private sector employees who are either being laid off or are going without pay increases during this recession. 

From our vantage point the city’s financial future looks pretty dire with Local Government Aid likely to be the No. 1 target of lawmakers as they try to fix a $6.2 billion budget deficit. Education has always been a favorite cause of legislators and even that area may have to take a hit in regard to state funding this  year. Does the city council know something we don’t know, that makes the short-term picture look rosier?

This was not the year for a pay raise of any amount for city workers.