By Tim Douglass

Glenwood City Commissioners are considering a policy that would increase regular annual retirement benefit contributions to the Glenwood Fire Relief Association. 

The idea was brought to the commission by Glenwood Fire Chief Bruce Cerney at an October meeting and he again made the request to the commission at the Nov. 10 meeting.  

The idea is to provide a higher monthly contribution to the Glenwood Fire Relief Association, which provides benefits to retiring Glenwood Firefighters.  The fire relief associations are governmental entities that receive and manage public money to provide benefits for retiring volunteer firefighters.  The retirement benefits are paid upon retirement and based on the number of years a firefighter has worked.  No benefits are paid until a firefighter is fully vested after 10 years of service.  

The relief associations are required under Minnesota Statutes to report annual financial investment and plan administration information to the Minnesota Auditor’s Office and that report is reviewed by the Minnesota Legislature.  The Auditor’s office, with details about the number of firefighters in a department and their years of service, oversees the funds, making sure each city fire relief association has the funds to provide retirement benefits to eligible firefighters.  There are times when the city has been asked to provide larger contributions to the fund and the proposed increase per year would mean more stable contributions on an annual basis, according to City Administrator Dave Iverson.

The commission, however, still had questions about how the retirement contributions are managed and invested and asked for more information on the matter.  Even though the funds are managed by the state, there were questions about investing some of the funds (the amount that would cover local retirements if they occurred) in more stable investments.  The city will revisit the issue at a later meeting, it was decided.

In other business, the commission:

•Authorized city administration to enter into an agreement with the city’s accounting firm, Abdo, if no finance officer could be hired in a timely manner to replace Finance Officer Brenda Sargent, who will retire in December.  Iverson said he is hopeful that a person could be hired, but despite various advertising, there have been very few qualified applicants to date.  The  agreement with the accounting firm would also provide important training to a new employee from a firm that knows the city’s system, Iverson explained.  

•Approved a charitable gambling permit for Knights of Columbus Council #5727 to conduct a raffle at its annual event at Lakeside Ballroom on February 19, 2023.

•Heard about a new ordinance that would prohibit private wells within the city of Glenwood.  The commission will review the ordinance and supply City Attorney Troy Nelson with comments before it is introduced at the Nov. 30 regular meeting.

•Received a list of property owners with delinquent utility charges and proposing them for assessment onto 2023 taxes.  The commission took no action on the list because it will likely change before a resolution adopting the list takes place in December, it was stated.

•Heard that administration was still seeking commissioners’ comments about the city’s proposed 2023 budget and levy, which will be approved in December.  The preliminary levy approved in September called for a 9% increase over 2022.

•Approved a pay request from Joe Riley Construction for work done in the 2022 street improvement project.  The commission approved paying $323,745.70, the second payment for the project.