Isanti Council approves new contract with police union group

Isanti City Council
Isanti administration has reached an agreement with the police union,
resolving  a lingering uncertainty left when the city budget was laid
out in December.

Luke Reiter
luke.reiter@ecm-inc.com

Isanti administration has reached an agreement with the police union, resolving  a lingering uncertainty left when the city budget was laid out in December.

In the regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 1, the City Council voted to approve the updated contract with police.

Health insurance had been the major sticking point in negotiations.

While other city employees agreed to switch to a less expensive health care plan as a cost-saving measure for the city, extended negotiations with police last year ended with an arbitrator awarding the department a premium plan as part of a one-year contract.

City officials warned that if Law Enforcement Labor Services, the union representing the police, was to push for the premium health care plan on a long-term basis it would lead to severe financial stress for the city, which is already facing diminished revenue from property taxes and major cuts in funding from the state government.

The Council had planned to discuss downsizing  the police department in its April 5 meeting if a suitable agreement had not been reached.

However the new agreement, which lasts until 2014, will change the health insurance plan for the department from the previous Aware Gold plan to Blue Cross/Blue Shield 120 plan.

To sweeten the transition to the higher deductible and co-pay rates of the new plan, the city will issue a lump sum payment of $500 to each employee in the police department this July, with another  round of payments in 2012.

Councilor Jim Kennedy praised the officers present at the Tuesday meeting for their willingness to work with the city.

In other action, the Council:

• Announced the city was near to hiring a new liquor store manager and was in the process of conducting background checks.

Mayor George Wimmer said the Council would present its findings at the next meeting on Feb. 15.

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