Polling locations in Brainerd will decrease from eight to four for the 2020 election.
Though cities usually have to certify polling locations in December before an election, Finance Director Connie Hillman told the Brainerd City Council Monday, June 15, state statute was amended this year because of COVID-19.
“Some locations we’re not allowed to use anymore due to COVID-19,” she said. “So therefore in speaking with the county staff — the county election staff — we believe that we can combine our polling locations down from eight to four, and we would still be well within the guidelines of the number of people per voting location.”
The four locations are as follows:
Ward 1 — Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 101 Buffalo Hills Lane. Those who previously voted at Trinity Lutheran Church will vote here.
Ward 2 — Essentia Health Sports Center, 502 Jackson St. Those who previously voted at The Center will vote here.
Ward 3 — Northeast Brainerd Fire Station, 1301 Mill Ave. Those who previously voted at Garfield and Lowell elementary schools, or at Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church for the last primary, will vote here.
Ward 4 — St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, 1108 Willow St. Those who previously voted at Harrison Elementary School or Carefree Living for the last primary, will vote here.
Hillman said election staff members believe there will be more early voting and absentee voting this year, meaning fewer people going out to the polls on Election Day.
With difficulties finding enough election judges to work throughout the whole day in recent years, Hillman said this change will also allow for shorter shifts.
Council President Gabe Johnson asked if this change will only be for 2020 or if it will continue in the future. Hillman said 2022 will be a redistricting year after the census, and the city may be able to continue on with four locations, which would help cut down costs and, again, be better for election judges.
Johnson said he is OK with going down to four this year but would like to see it back up to eight in 2022.
“Even though it costs a little bit and it’s challenging to get people there, this is our democracy,” Johnson said. “... We should make it as easy as possible and not increase lines if we don’t have to. We’re talking, $10 - $15,000 a year of extra cash. It’s not going to break the bank.”
In other business Monday, the council:
Approved an extension of premises to Shep’s on 6th for an event at the bar Aug. 28-29.
Approved an event application for a produce pop-up pantry from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, June 22, on Mississippi Parkway at Central Lakes College.
Hired Braeden Egeland as a temporary part-time downtown maintenance worker. He is expected to work three days a week with a wage of $14 per hour.
Hired Jordan Host as a police officer at step 1 on the city’s wage grid, earning $27.43 an hour. With this hiring the department is at 21 officers and is budgeted for 27. The department is working to create a new eligibility list to hire more officers.
Signed an agreement with EnviroTech for cleaning services at city facilities. The monthly cost is $1,765 for city hall, $1,255 for the police department, $238 each for the fire department and the street and sewer department.
Accepted a bid from Asphalt Surface Technologies Corp. of $147,576.12 for the annual seal coating project.
Approved change orders for the Buffalo Hills Lane and Mississippi Drive Project for a total of $10,022.50. The cost is covered by state aid funds.
Signed a cost share agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for the Northwest Fourth Street project, set to take place next year. MnDOT will cover the costs associated with signal adjustments at the intersection of Northwest Fourth Street and Highway 210/Washington Street.