A Brainerd policy covering education reimbursement for its employees is in the works.
The Brainerd City Council on Tuesday directed staffers to prepare a policy stating that the city would reimburse an employee's tuition costs up to $1,500 per year, with a maximum of $6,000 allowed for as long as the employee is with the city.
The proposed policy would include a provision that employees would have to pay back the reimbursed money if they leave their jobs within one year, 66 percent within two years and 33 percent within three years. Employees must apply for the reimbursement with their department by Sept. 1.
Voting against the motion were council members Bob Olson and Lucy Nesheim.
Council member Anne Nelson Fisher, who voted in favor of the policy, said many other cities and counties in Minnesota have similar provisions in place because it is a worthy way to help employees fund their education. She also said that under the policy, employees would only be reimbursed for courses that apply to their jobs with the city.
"The costs of higher education are continually rising. I think that this will encourage some to take advantage of that and we will have better trained city staff," Fisher said.
The policy change to include tuition reimbursement was spurred by a request from Brainerd Police Chief John Bolduc, who sought reimbursement while he pursued his master's degree.
In voting against the proposed policy, Olson said such reimbursements were already covered within the city's budget under professional development.
"We pay our employees pretty well," Olson said. "For me, it's more of a resume builder than it helps the city."
Council member Bonnie Cumberland said she was concerned with where the reimbursement money would come from. However, she said she voted in favor of Tuesday's motion because it was conceptual and would be worked on by city staffers.
In other action, the council:
Adjourned to a joint meeting of the council, Planning Commission, and Economic and Development Authority at 5:30 p.m. on Monday at the Brainerd Police Department training room.
Heard a presentation from housing specialist Jackie Cherryhomes on the city's proposed rental maintenance housing code.
Ordered improvements and preparation of plans and specifications for the Bluff Avenue reconstruction project. The project will include Bluff Avenue from North Seventh to North 10th streets, Terrace Avenue from Bluff Avenue to Evergreen Street, North Eighth Street from Fir Street to Bluff Avenue, North Ninth Street from Fir Street to Bluff Avenue and North 10th Street from Grove Street to Bluff Avenue.
Janet Burton, who lives on Terrace Avenue, expressed concern about her assessment during the public hearing for the project. She asked that assessments be lowered and that everyone pay the same amount.
Approved by a 6-1 vote a public wrestling application from Brock Larson for an event April 21 at the Brainerd Area Civic Center. Bolduc said that security concerns from last year's event have been alleviated and he was comfortable with Larson's proposal.
Fisher, who voted against the application, made a previous motion to deny the application, but it died for lack of a second. She pointed out that Red Wing has banned similar events in that city.
"I'm opposed to this type of event," Fisher said. "I think it's simply a modern-day gladiator type situation."
Olson said people pay admission to see Larson's event and attending it is voluntary.
"If you want to watch it, go and pay and see it," Olson said. "No one says you have to watch it."
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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