BAXTER - Non-union employees in Baxter will receive a 3 percent cost-of-living raise retroactive for 2008.
Another 3 percent cost-of-living raise for 2009, however, is on hold, the Baxter City Council decided Tuesday.
Historically, non-union employees have received a cost of living wage increase equal or greater to the average negotiated for union employees.
While the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union has not settled a 2008 contract, the police officers' union did with a cost-of-living increase of 3 percent retroactive for 2008, as well as 3 percent increases for 2009 and 2010.
With the police union contract negotiated, Finance Director Jeremy Vacinek suggested that the council adjust non-union employees, of which there are 11 working for the city. Those employees received no cost-of-living increase in 2008.
Council member Jim Klein initially asked for a closed session to discuss the salaries, but Mayor Darrel Olson said he didn't believe the council could for that reason. Klein then said he'd like to hold off until all union contracts are settled.
"There's an old military saying that the officers don't eat until the enlisted men eat," Klein said.
Council member Rob Moser said he was OK with retroactive cost-of-living increases for 2008 because it was budgeted but that he was leery of approving 2009 cost-of-living increases with so much unknown financially for the city.
In other action, the council:
Adopted a 2009 mileage reimbursement rate of 55 cents per mile, which is in line with Internal Revenue Service regulations. Klein questioned how many receive reimbursement and how much the city was paying. He also said that although the IRS suggests 55 cents a mile, it wasn't a mandate. Council member Todd Holman said that following IRS regulations wasn't unusual and it was actually less than the current rate of 58.5 cents per mile. "It's not a money-maker at that rate," said Olson, who uses his vehicle for his work with the Crow Wing County Assessor's office.
Approved a $15,471 assessment agreement with the owners of Bonanza Family Restaurant to allow the restaurant to remove its garbage disposal system and install an outside grease trap to be in compliance with the city's Fats, Oils and Grease ordinance.
Learned that the city collected $1,957,998 in sale and vehicle excise tax from October 2006 to September 2007 and $2,014,097 from October 2007 to September 2008.
Thanked council member Gary Muehlhausen for his 16 years on the Baxter City Council. Though his name appeared on the November general election ballot, Muehlhausen, who served on the council since 1992, in October announced his intention to withdraw as a candidate. "I thank you Gary for your friendship and dedication to the city," Olson said. "We're going to miss you. It's been a great ride and we wish you many, many years of happy retirement."
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