by Dennis Dalman
The Sartell City Council voted 3-2 to join the regional human-rights office at no cost for the next 30 months.
For several years, there have been plans to enlist the support of cities in the greater St. Cloud area to establish and maintain a human-rights office in the area. The rationale is people will find it more convenient to deal with human-rights issues locally rather than having to work through the statewide office in St. Paul.
Recently, advocates of a local multi-city office offered cities to join free for 30 months, a trial period to see how effective the service would be.
Council members Steve Hennes, Amy Braig-Lindstrom and Mayor Joe Perske spoke in favor of joining the effort, with Sartell becoming part of a joint-powers board. Hennes said a local office would help expedite human-rights problems, as well as being a good local force for education and mediation of issues in the areas of mental health, employment and housing. Braig-Lindstrom said joining for no cost is a “no-brainer” and that human rights should be a priority for Sartell as well as elsewhere.
Council member Sarah Jane Nicoll said there is no need for a local office as it would just duplicate what the state handles already. Council member David Peterson agreed with Nicoll about duplication and also said he is skeptical about the “no-cost” provision for 30 months. But Peterson added he is willing to consider joining a regional human-rights office in the future.
Sartell City Administrator Patti Gartland told the council the no-cost provision is locked into the offer. If costs do enter the picture in the next 30 months, the council can opt out of the deal.
The 30-month period will end Dec. 31, 2015.
Nicoll and Peterson voted against the resolution.