Bemidji council reviews firefighter association benefits
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji City Council took action Monday on pension benefits for volunteer firefighters.
During its meeting, the council was presented with a recommendation from the city's Public Affairs Committee to approve a request from the Volunteer Firefighters Relief Association, or FRA. The request was to approve an increase to how much the city is obligated to cover FRA members' pensions.
The city is financially obligated to maintain pension benefit levels only if the FRA is unable to cover benefit costs. On Monday, City Manager Nate Mathews said the FRA's pension benefit fund is "healthy."
The approval, which takes effect in 2021, increased the amount from $7,337 per year of service to $7,850, a 7% rise. Along with the increase, the approval set a mutual understanding that any future increases will be reviewed by the FRA and the city's Public Affairs Committee.
Voting in favor of the approval was Mayor Rita Albrecht, as well as Wards 1, 2, 3 and 4 council members Michael Meehlhause, Josh Peterson, Ron Johnson and Emelie Rivera. Against the motion was Ward 5 council member Nancy Erickson.
Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week
Another item on Monday's agenda was a proclamation by Albrecht, declaring the week of Nov. 15-22 as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. The week was proclaimed to educate the public about reasons people are hungry and homeless.
Additionally the proclamation is to encourage supporting assistance programs fighting hunger and homelessness. The proclamation states, "the city of Bemidji recognizes that hunger and homelessness continue to be a serious problem for individuals and families in Bemidji."
The proclamation goes on to state "the mayor encourages all citizens to recognize that many people do not have housing and food, and need support from citizens, businesses, and private/public nonprofit service entities."