Grand Forks City Council rejects health insurance offer for elected officials
Grand Forks officials voted not to offer a municipal health insurance plan to the mayor, a municipal judge, and themselves.
City council members voted 4-3 on Tuesday to remove a $ 45,000 item from their 2022 budget that would have paid the city’s share for health insurance for these nine elected officials, who are all, at least on paper, part-time workers. City administrators have touted insurance as a way to attract more residents to run for public office. Three of the four people elected to the board in June 2020 were incumbents, and all four ran without opposition.
“I think what we need are the right people to run, not more people to run, and I don’t think offering health insurance does that,” said Board Chair Dana Sande. He added that “99% of the people working part-time in Grand Forks don’t have this benefit. I just don’t feel good giving this to myself.
Sande voted to cut money from elected officials’ health insurance alongside council members Katie Dachtler, Jeannie Mock and Ken Vein. Danny Weigel, Bret Weber and Kyle Kvamme voted to keep it in the city’s spending plan.
Still, municipal staff are about to consider a future salary increase for the municipal judge and, perhaps, register him as a full-time position.
The post is currently held by Alvin Boucher, who said he was unsure whether he would run for another term in June 2022. Boucher said he would not need the city’s health plan as he is covered by his wife’s plan, but he nevertheless urged the council members to keep the city’s offer intact.
“Medicare is an extremely important part of hiring employees,” said Boucher. “There is no reason not to include elected officials. … Without it, it will prevent a number of lawyers from applying for the post. “
The $ 45,000 is an infinitesimal portion of the city’s budget $ 216.7 million budget, which council members also accepted on Tuesday. This budget includes a salary increase of $ 6,500 for the mayor and an increase of $ 2,200 for the judge.
In related news, board members:
Informally considered offering gift cards to people who receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Council members quibbled over where the cards should be offered, but none expressed strong opposition to the idea. City administrators are expected to continue with the plan this week and next, according to city administrator Todd Feland. About 46.6% of residents of Grand Forks County have been fully immunized against the virus, according to data compiled by Grand Forks Public Health.
In a 4: 3 vote, rejected a plan that would have paid up to $ 1.5 million for the city’s share of a “blue zone project” in conjunction with the Dakota Department of Health North, Altru Health System and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. The project organizers present the zones as a way to promote city-wide health and well-being by brainstorming and then implementing policy suggestions and other programs at the scale. town, but council members were wary of the high price tag, especially since a long list of redevelopment proposals was aimed at an equally large audience. subsidies. Weigel, Mock, Kvamme and Sande voted against the project. Dachtler, Weber and Vein voted for it.
Voted 4-3 to hire Ryan Brooks as a town planner, a position he has held on an acting basis since June. Brooks’ work would be spelled out in a specific contract, rather than in the city code. Contract workers like Brooks are theoretically easier to fire, and some board members said they had nothing against Brooks in particular, but feared these types of jobs were no longer susceptible to political pressure from city officials. . Weigel, Mock, Kvamme and Sande voted in favor of hiring Brooks. Dachtler, Weber and Vein voted against.
Voted unanimously to increase the severance pay in the contract of Brandon Boespflug, the city’s chief inspectorate, from six weeks to six months.