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Brainerd City Council: Wage set for fire department position

The Brainerd City Council Monday approved a job description for a new full-time fire marshal/deputy chief position in the Brainerd Fire Department, another step in the department's restructuring.

Brainerd City Council member Mary Koep (left) laughs while discussing the purchase of office furniture for city staff during Monday's city council meeting. Also pictured is city Administrator Jim Thoreen. (Brainerd Dispatch/Spenser Bickett)
Brainerd City Council member Mary Koep (left) laughs while discussing the purchase of office furniture for city staff during Monday's city council meeting. Also pictured is city Administrator Jim Thoreen. (Brainerd Dispatch/Spenser Bickett)

The Brainerd City Council Monday approved a job description for a new full-time fire marshal/deputy chief position in the Brainerd Fire Department, another step in the department's restructuring.

The fire department's paid on-call structure will have three full-time positions: a fire chief, Tim Holmes; an administrative specialist, Elaine Kraemer; and a fire marshal/deputy chief.

The fire marshal/deputy chief base wage is 75 percent of the fire chief's base wage, as the primary duties for the position will be inspections and deputy chief functions will be performed as needed.

The wage is based on an average between fire inspector and deputy fire chief positions. A desired qualification for the position would be living at a residence no farther than 10 minutes away from either fire station in the city.

A Personnel and Finance Committee meeting prior to the council meeting contained a more detailed discussion of the position. At that meeting, Kris Schubert, human resource coordinator, said she worked closely with Holmes to develop the job description.

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Schubert and Holmes looked at comparable communities like Elk River and Fergus Falls to develop the description and the rate recommendation, she said.

The hiring process for the position will now begin, which will be conducted by the Civil Service Commission. Because of the length of the hiring process, the position may not be filled until Jan. 1. Background checks for applicants can be taken care of in-house for Minnesota residents, because, as council member Gabe Johnson put it, "I guess we have the ability to do that. We're the government."

In open forum during the council meeting, William Durham, Oak Lawn Township, expressed his disappointment in how the city council timed its vote to restructure the fire department. At a Sept. 16 meeting of the Fire Advisory Board, township representatives asked for time to bring back information on the restructuring to their respective boards. At a Sept. 21 council meeting, the Brainerd City Council approved a motion restructuring the department.

"I was just disappointed in that because we didn't get the chance to come back to our respective boards," Durham said.

The Brainerd Fire Department will now be the same as other area paid on-call departments, Durham said, so there's a lost incentive for townships to use the department for their fire service.

"However, I do have no doubt that Mr. Holmes, the council, the firefighters, the paid on-call people will make it work the best they can," Durham said.

Durham is also a supervisor on the Oak Lawn Township Board, but said he was speaking for himself during the open forum. The board will discuss the restructuring at its Tuesday meeting, and Holmes said he would be at the meeting to address any questions that arose.

Council member Dave Pritschet was absent from Monday's meeting.

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In other business, the council:

Approved new contractor licenses for Twell Environmental, Inc., Brooklyn Park; Elite Underground, Inc., Brainerd; Rightmark LLC, Buffalo.

Received a report from Holmes on the fire department's activity in October. The department responded to 29 calls for the month, 17 of which were in the city of Brainerd. Seven of those 29 calls were canceled en route.

Approved an excluded bingo application from the Knights of Columbus Council 1491 for bingo events on Jan. 14, 21, 28 and Feb. 4.

Approved a payment to Short Elliott Hendrickson in the amount of $66,518 for the Brainerd Lakes Airport Utility Extension project.

Approved a payment to Northwoods Landscaping in the amount of $2,215 for maintenance in downtown Brainerd.

Approved pay rate increases for seasonal Parks and Recreation Department employees. The rates were included in the 2016 budget and apply to umpires, referees, announcers, concession workers, ice rink attendants, interns, clerical workers, recreation aides, maintenance workers and announcers.

Approved an out-of-state travel request for transit coordinator Andy Stone to attend the 2015 Routematch Users Conference from Oct. 26-29 in Atlanta.

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Approved a street closure request for the St. Francis Catholic School Marathon, from noon to 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Approved a street closure request for a Family Fun Festival, from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Decided to seek donations and grants to help fund the demolition and replacement of the existing fountain in Gregory Park. The current fountain is cracked and leaking and needs to be replaced. A recommendation from Flair Fountains, Minneapolis, which constructed the fountain in 1967, revealed a replacement cost of $100,000.

SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or spenser.bickett@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .

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