Council votes 5-2 for police
The Blue Earth City Council took a final vote on hiring its own police chief and keeping its own police department at last Monday’s regular meeting, but the decision did not come easy.
In fact, the vote was split 5-2, with Councilmen Glenn Gaylord and John Gartzke voting no.
City Administrator Kathy Bailey included a full job description for a new chief’s position as well as a proposed pay scale for the chief and officers.
The pay scale indicates a patrolling police chief would be paid $56,752 with 100 hours of overtime, while the top patrol officer would be paid $53,169 with 130 hours of overtime.
A police chief would have a starting hourly wage of $24.15.
Gaylord questioned whether a vote Monday night meant they were accepting Bailey’s proposal and would be hiring a patrolling chief at this rate of pay. He was told that was what was being decided.
Several councilmen asked how long the contract would be for the new chief and if this meant the city would still be exploring other options.
Bailey responded that the city’s police chief has never been hired with a contract and is an “at will employee,” meaning they can be terminated at any time.
“I still think we need to hire a chief but to continue to explore what our other options are,” Councilman Allen Aukes said. “I know Jackson is going with their county sheriff. We should keep track of how this agreement is handled.”
Councilman Russ Erichsrud said he felt they needed to vote on the proposal.
“We need to show our local officers we support them,” Erichsrud said. “They have had this ax hanging over their heads for too long.”
Aukes and Erichsrud made the motion to hire a chief at the rate proposed.
Gartzke questioned how many applicants for the chief’s job had been received and how long it would take to hire one.
Bailey responded that she felt any applications which were received are now months old and no longer viable.
“Some may have taken other positions by now and some new persons may now be available,” she told the council. “I believe we need to re-post the position.”
Bailey added that she expected the whole process to take as long as two and a half months before a new chief would be on board.