Brainerd: Council approves city admin contract with Bergman

Brainerd City Council members discuss matters during their meeting Monday, Dec. 2. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

With a newly approved contract, Jennifer Bergman will officially begin as Brainerd’s new city administrator Jan. 6.

Bergman, who currently serves as the executive director of the Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority, was selected from five candidates two weeks ago. The Brainerd City Council approved her contract during its meeting Monday, Dec. 2.

As city administrator, Bergman will start on Step 1 of the city’s wage grid, earning $110,988 in 2020. Any future salary increases will be consistent with city policy and any wage resolution adopted by the city council at council members’ discretion.

She will earn vacation at a rate of 13.33 hours per month (four weeks per year) for the first six years of employment. After the sixth year, the monthly accrual rate will increase per the city’s employee policy manual. The maximum vacation balance is 240 hours.

Bergman will accrue sick leave at a rate of 8 hours per month with a maximum sick balance of 960 hours. She will be credited with 160 hours of banked sick leave upon the first day of her employment.


The city offers two health insurance plans to employees or $315 per month for an opt-out election with appropriate coverage documentation.

The city council will evaluate Bergman’s after her first six months and then annually from there on out.

Bergman replaces Cassandra Torstenson, who resigned in October after nearly two years with the city. Previous City Administrator Jim Thoreen is acting as part-time interim administrator until Bergman starts.

In other business Monday, the council:

Authorized lawful gambling by the American Legion Post 255 at Cornerstone Liquor on Washington Street.

Approved an event application for the 2020 Tour of the Lakes June 20 using the city hall and Laurel Street parking lots for event parking.

Authorized the advancement of state aid funds amounting to $1,294,000 to pay for 2019 and 2020 construction projects, including projects on Buffalo Hills Lane, H Street, B Street, and Fifth Avenue Northeast, along with sidewalks on Gillis Avenue, Fourth Avenue Northeast and near Garfield Elementary School for the safe routes to school project.

Approved a proposal from Bolton and Menk for the design and construction administration services for next year’s improvements to Northwest Third and Jackson streets, not to exceed $36,440.


Amended the city’s tree policy, which previously prohibited cotton bearing trees. A grandfather clause now allows cotton bearing trees that are at least 12 inches in diameter and 4 and-a-half feet above the ground.

Adopted a policy on technology enhanced traffic control devices. Under the policy, city staff will consider alternative traffic control methods before authorizing the installation of flashing LED signs, speed feedback signs or rectangular rapid flashing beacons (pedestrian crosswalk systems). Council member Kelly Bevans said the policy gives staff a plan to follow so that every intersection in the city doesn’t end up having technology enhanced controls, as the more frequent the devices are, often the less effective they are.

Authorized the fire department to apply for the Assistance to Firefighters grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The total request is $225,000, with a local 10% cost share if awarded, to replace the department self-contained breathing apparatus. The fire department applied for the grant in 2018 but did not receive it.

Approved a new animal control contract with Michael O’Brien of Lakes Area Wildlife Control. The city’s current agreement is $1,360.60 per month. The fee will increase 30% a year over the next three years to account for a higher volume of work than O’Brien anticipated in 2019. O’Brien originally requested an increase to $2,834.58 per month in 2020, but Police Chief Corky McQuiston negotiated a gradual increase so the city can absorb the cost increase over time.

Hosted a public hearing to gain feedback on the implementation of the Small Cities Development Program grant the city received in 2018, but no one spoke.

Approved three conditional use permit requests from Brainerd Public Schools for construction projects at Garfield, Lowell and Riverside elementary schools.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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