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Brainerd City Council: Staff asked to review alternatives to hiring new rental/building inspector

The first city council meeting of the new year started off with an agreement to brainstorm ways to solve a soon-to-be empty city staff position. At a Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group was posed with a recommendation from city staff ...

The first city council meeting of the new year started off with an agreement to brainstorm ways to solve a soon-to-be empty city staff position.

At a Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group was posed with a recommendation from city staff to fill the soon to be vacant position of the rental/building inspector.

The current rental/building inspector, Scott Sadusky, recently turned in his resignation, effective in March.

City council member Mary Koep said with the new year, the council should start off reviewing its options before voting to fill the position.

She suggested looking into contractors or asking for a request for proposal, to see if it would be cheaper than filling the position.

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Koep said the council needs to "look at every possible option."

Council member Sue Hilgart suggested the council look to current city staff for possible promotions.

"The talent is there," she said, noting that other vacancies might not need to be filled if someone was promoted.

When the council accepted Sadusky's resignation this fall, the group asked for more information on what work the Building Safety Department does, in order to better make a decision in how to replace Sadusky, which was presented Monday.

Here's how the department is set up:

There's a building official and two other staff members who conduct inspections, one of buildings and the other for rentals, which is Sadusky's position.

Sadusky also does minor building maintenance in City Hall and some building inspections.

There's also an administrative assistant who issues formal building/rental permits.

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Staff recommended the council fill the position.

Instead, the council voted to ask city staff to look at alternatives they suggested, as well as other ideas in filling the position. Those ideas will then be discussed at the committee level before coming back before the council with a recommendation.

The city has more than 2,000 rental units that are inspected once every three years. Each inspection takes up to an hour to complete.

Building inspections take up to two hours.

In 2011, the department staff levels were cut when one inspector retired and another left. The council filled one of the positions.

Building official and department head Tim Caughey said the workload of the department has "dramatically increased" since 2012.

In filling the position, the hourly wage could be up to $25.98. The position is budgeted for 2015.

In other City Council news:

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Asked the Personnel and Finance Committee to review the idea of getting insurance coverage for city volunteers, and then bring a recommendation back to the full council.

The council previously asked for price quotes for insurance coverage for city volunteers who work under the city's direction, meaning coaches, instructors in recreational programs, or those volunteering through a service organization.

It would not cover council members or election judges, who are considered employees.

Basic coverage is $680 a year. Optional coverage is $306 a year. Or, the city could have basic coverage without the medical option or both options for $986 a year.

Last year, the city didn't have any claims from volunteers, but had several projects where someone could have been injured.

Asked the Personnel and Finance Committee to review a possible grant application for a funding of up to $25,000 for eligible projects surrounding soil and water conservation district runoff. The projects the city could include are: At Lum Park, to mitigate the direct runoff into Rice Lake from the beach parking lot and boat landing; a project in Gregory Park to mitigate the runoff from the tennis court project that will be constructed this year.

The grant requires a 25 percent match in either cash or in-kind, which staff recommended be using city forces to perform excavation work and hauling of materials. Because of the required match, the committee will come back with a recommendation for the full council.

Established an Airport Utility Extension Consultant Selection Interview Committee to screen and interview potential construction companies. On the committee will be the city administrator, city engineer, assistant city engineer, Brainerd Public Utilities superintendent and three council members.

Held the second reading and adoption of an ordinance to rezone 705 S. Sixth St. from general commercial to medium density residential. The building on the property was destroyed by a fire in 2013 and has remained vacant, with no one showing interest in buying it.

Held the second reading and adoption of an ordinance to rezone 2424 Business Highway 371 S. from high-density residential to general commercial. The property is owned by Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge. During the 2011 citywide zoning map amendment process, the property was rezoned from general commercial to high-density residential, which prevented the program from adding on a drug and alcohol treatment and recovery piece.

Adopted two resolutions for a potential Safe Routes to School project. The resolutions name Brainerd as the sponsoring city and another says the city agrees to maintain the facility.

At the last council meeting, the group approved submitting an application for funding in a potential 2019 project to bring in more sidewalks around Garfield and Lowell schools. The most recent action supports the initial application.

The council will hold a workshop at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The meeting will cover individual goals, priorities and concerns.

Designated the Brainerd Dispatch as the official newspaper.

Designated several financial institutions as depositories.

Designated the chair or vice chair of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission be authorized to represent the city for 2015 capital projects for airport operations, with a signature for required documents.

Reappointed the following city officials: Jeff Hulsether as the city engineer, Tim Caughey as the city building official, and Eric Quiring as the city attorney.

Accepted with regret the resignation of JD Berns from the Parks and Recreation Board.

Made the following committee appointments:

Charter Commission (four-year term): Don Samuelson, Dolly Matten, Clara Staffon.

Economic Development Authority (term expires August 2020): Dale Parks.

Rental Dwelling License Board of Appeals (two-year term): Rick Fargo, Todd Barnett, Theresa Hettver.

Transportation Advisory Committee (two-year term): Kimberly Strickland and Dale Parks.

Adjourned into closed session to discuss union negotiation strategies.

JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at jessie.perrine@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews .

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