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Breezy Point: Council approves police union contract

During its Monday, Jan. 5, meeting - the first led by new mayor Tom Lillehei - the Breezy Point City Council voted 3-2 in favor of approving a new union contract for city police officers, effective from 2015 to 2017.

During its Monday, Jan. 5, meeting - the first led by new mayor Tom Lillehei - the Breezy Point City Council voted 3-2 in favor of approving a new union contract for city police officers, effective from 2015 to 2017.

Council members Otto Schmid and Diane Williams voted against the measure.

The contract calls for a 3.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment, as well as a 50-cent shift differential increase for overnight shifts. It also requests annual step increases in salary, as opposed to the previously used step increase occurring every other year. Also, paramedics' pay is to be increased from an additional 6 percent to 7 percent.

Questions arose - particularly from Schmid - regarding the cost-of-living adjustment, saying they will likely have to give that increase to all city employees.

Williams questioned whether the contract could be worded more clearly, as she felt it was too ambiguous in certain areas.

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"Every contract is going to be ambiguous in some areas, depending on who is reading it," Lillehei said. "(With other cities, these issues) either do not arise, or it may go to arbitration, and the number that actually go to arbitration is fairly small."

New council member Gary Bakken echoed Lillehei's statement, saying that any contract can be interpreted, which gives cities the need for an attorney.

In other action, the board unanimously approved the purchase of a 2015 Ford SUV for the police department, which will replace a 2004 Ford Explorer the department uses that is in need of an equipment update. Using a state bid, the city is able to purchase vehicles at a much lower cost than the general public.

The board also unanimously approved a request to have the city's engineer provide a contract for services and cost estimates, so that a 200-foot portion of Thrane Drive - from County Road 4 to the entrance of the Pelican Lakes Conservation Club - may be paved. This project could be combined with the paving of Snowman Circle in an effort to save money.

The council approved the following appointments for 2015: Otto Schmid as acting mayor; Joe Langel of Langel, Ratwik, Roszak, Maloney as city attorney; Schlenner Wenner & Co. as city auditor; Tim Houle of Widseth Smith Nolting as consultant city engineer; the Pineandlakes Echo Journal as the official newspaper; and Pine River State Bank as the official depository.

In December, Breezy Point police responded to 146 incidents, down 10 from the previous year. Among those incidents were six crashes, four thefts and one fire. There were no traffic arrests during the month.

Related Topics: BREEZY POINTPOLICE
Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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