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Brainerd City Council: New firefighter pay plan approved

The Brainerd City Council Monday night approved a new pay scale for paid on-call firefighters with the Brainerd Fire Department. The new scale includes rates for trainee and probationary firefighters and will only apply to firefighters who join t...

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Trainee firefighters will be paid at 60 percent of the current firefighter rate, which comes out to $11.79 per hour. A new firefighter will be considered a trainee for up to two years and during this time will work to complete training requirements of the department. Five different certifications must be completed before a trainee firefighter can advance to the probationary pay rate. BrainerdDispatch.com Illustration

The Brainerd City Council Monday night approved a new pay scale for paid on-call firefighters with the Brainerd Fire Department.

The new scale includes rates for trainee and probationary firefighters and will only apply to firefighters who join the department after the scale goes into effect.

Trainee firefighters will be paid at 60 percent of the current firefighter rate, which comes out to $11.79 per hour. A new firefighter will be considered a trainee for up to two years and during this time will work to complete training requirements of the department. Five different certifications must be completed before a trainee firefighter can advance to the probationary pay rate.

Probationary firefighters will be paid at 80 percent of the current firefighter rate, which comes out to $15.72 per hour. A probationary firefighter can be moved up to the full firefighter pay rate after a one-year period. The full firefighter pay rate is $19.65 per hour.

It doesn't make much sense to pay new firefighters the same rate as experienced firefighters, council member Gabe Johnson said. The department will save about $5,600 per employee during the training period using this new rate, he said.

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In a personnel and finance committee meeting prior to the regular council meeting, Fire Chief Tim Holmes clarified the new rates don't affect any current firefighters, only new hires. A trainee firefighter isn't as involved at the scene of a fire as an experienced firefighter, he said. Until certain certification is completed, a firefighter can't do any interior firefighting.

"They're not doing the same job as a fully trained firefighter," Holmes said.

In other business, the council;

Approved the purchase of two pieces of equipment for the street department included in the 2017 budget. The purchase includes a tractor with broom and mower attachments and a 12-inch chipper.

The city budgeted $55,000 for the tractor and attachments and an estimated trade-in value of $1,000 for the old tractor and attachments. The quote for a new mower and attachments came back at $59,444, broken down as follows:

โ€ข $43,416 for a new tractor,

โ€ข $6,818 for a new broom,

โ€ข $9,210 for a new mower.

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This is $4,444 more than the budgeted amount. The dealer did not want the old tractor and attachments, so there is no trade-in amount included. The city will instead sell the old tractor and attachments through a public auction process. The quoted price is negotiated through the National Joint Powers Alliance for public contracts.

The city budgeted $58,000 for a 15-inch chipper and an estimated trade-in value of $7,000 for the old chipper. The quoted price for a 12-inch chipper is $37,266. Street department staff noted a 12-inch chipper will suffice and a 15-inch chipper is not needed.

The total budgeted amount for all equipment including trade-in values is $105,000. The total quoted amounts, including the trade-in value for the old chipper is $96,711.

Reaffirmed the city's assessment policy in relation to the planned Jackson Street improvement.

During a Feb. 21 public hearing on the project, a representative from the Brainerd Amateur Sports Foundation requested relief from future assessments on the Essentia Health Sports Center. The nonprofit foundation serves as the owner and operator of the facility.

The council's action reflects the staff recommendation, which is based on the fact many nonprofit organizations operate within the city and are all subject to the same special assessments.

"To grant special consideration to one nonprofit will establish a precedent that every nonprofit will want to take advantage of in the future," the recommendation reads.

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