Brainerd no longer will give turkeys or hams as gifts to its city employees.
The city council, before a truth-in-taxation public hearing Monday night, voted 6-0 to rescind a previous motion to give gifts this Christmas, and discontinued the practice for the future. Council member Debbie Olander was absent.
The decision to stop giving turkeys and hams was based on a recommendation from Brainerd City Attorney Tom Fitzpatrick, who said his recommendation was based on information received from the Minnesota state auditor's office concerning an investigation of gifting it had done in Brooklyn Park. In that investigative report, the auditor's office reiterated 1934 and 1948 opinions by the Minnesota attorney general that public funds cannot be gifted away by public employees or officials, nor may public entities give gifts to their employees.
"It's not an appropriate expenditure of public funds," Fitzpatrick said of the turkey and ham gifts. He said an award system could be set up in city contracts with employees.
Brainerd earlier awarded employees with an appreciation dinner starting in 1970 but that stopped in 1995 because of the lack of employees attending. Since 1995 the city has budgeted gifts like turkey, ham or fruit baskets for employees. This year $2,000 was budgeted.
Council member Bob Olson asked Fitzpatrick also to look into $500 of city money that is used for the committee appreciation dinner honoring volunteers serving on the various committees.
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