ALEXANDRIA – The city of Alexandria is ready if the courts uphold mandates requiring businesses and other entities with more than 100 employees to vaccinate their workers.
City Attorney Tom Jacobson told the Alexandria City Council Monday night that the city has already drafted policies for mandated vaccines and only needs to fine-tune them if the courts uphold the mandates. A Supreme Court decision is expected by the end of this week or by the end of the month, at the latest, he said.
The mandate for vaccines, or as an alternative, weekly testings, was supposed to take effect Jan. 10 but has been delayed in the courts.
The city has about 75 full-time employees, but OSHA has determined that the mandates for those with more than 100 employees would apply to part-time employees and any employee who receives compensation. For Alexandria, this would include ALP Utilities, seasonal workers, and volunteer firefighters because they receive a pension. This would easily push the city employees to well over 100, said Karin Tank, human resources director.
"The net is cast far and wide," Tank told the council.
Following are other items that were discussed during the meeting that weren't reported in other council stories.
President pro tempore named
Ward 1 council member Bill Franzen will serve as the president pro tempore of the council in 2022. He will serve as acting mayor when Mayor Bobbie Osterberg is away from the city or if the mayor is prevented by disability from performing the duties of the office.
Council member Dave Benson made the motion to give Franzen the duties and it was unanimously approved.
The president pro tempore doesn’t relinquish their right to vote.
The city’s charter requires the council to appoint a council member to the position every year.
Eagles Club donates to park
The council accepted a donation of $1,500 from the Alexandria Eagles Club that could save lives at Big Ole Central Park.
The money will be used to purchase an automated external defibrillator, or AED, that’s used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.
The club thought that with all the activity and visitors around the Big Ole statue, as well as those using the Central Lakes Trail, the AED would be a great asset to the park.
Bylaws established for police commission
The council approved a resolution adopting new bylaws for the city’s police commission.
City Administrator Marty Schultz said the new bylaws are intended to allow the commission to function generally the same way the previous bylaws allowed. “They are not intended to materially change the way the commission functions,” he said.
The new bylaws authorize the mayor, chief of police and police commission members to execute the new rules.
Last fall, the council began the process of changing the city’s home rule charter regarding the police commission’s authority over the Alexandria Police Department. A part in the charter stated that the city’s "police civil service commission shall continue to function as provided by state statute.” The council took steps to change that to say the commission will function “as determined by the city council.”
In a related action, the council gave preliminary approval to amending the city code that deals with the police commission.
City Attorney Tom Jacobson said the change would give the council more flexibility in defining the commission’s role and that role can also account for the mayor’s “command and control” duties.
The commission's duties include recommending a process for hiring and promoting officers, and reviewing the police budget for the coming year. It has no authority to investigate complaints or allegations of misconduct of officers or other employees of the police department, according to the bylaws.
If a commission member receives such a complaint, they will notify the police chief immediately. If the allegation relates to the police chief, they will report it to the mayor.
The commission includes five members – three from the public, the police chief and the mayor.
The council also changed the name of the commission, dropping the "civil service" part of it and calling it "police commission."
Resolutions for the New Year
The council approved several resolutions for 2022, including:
Changing the dates of two meetings. The Monday, Dec. 25 (Christmas) meeting will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 27 and the Monday, Aug. 8 meeting was switched to Thursday, Aug. 11 because the council chambers will be used for the Primary Election. Both meetings will begin at the usual time, 7 p.m.
Depositories designated. A total of 20 financial institutions were designated. They will be used by the city, municipal liquor stores and ALP Utilities.
Official newspaper. The Echo Press, a division of Forum Communications Company, was named the official newspaper of Alexandria. As in the past, it will publish the city’s legal notices and delinquent tax list.
Elected and appointed city officials covered by insurance. The mayor, council members, and members of 17 city boards, commissions and committees were designated to be included as employees so they can be covered under Minnesota Workers Compensation. The council takes this action every year.
Appointed a responsible authority, City Administrator Marty Schultz, to oversee data practice policies and procedures, as required by state law.