City inks deals with top brass

by Tom Coombe -

The city of Ely has reached new contract agreements with its top administrative staff.
At its final meeting of 2017, council members voted 6-0, with mayor Chuck Novak absent, to approve three-year deals with two separate bargaining units.
The contracts with the supervisor of essential employees, and supervisors of other than essential employees cover police chief John Lahtonen, clerk-treasurer and operations director Harold Langowski, deputy clerk Casey Velcheff, librarian Rachel Heinrich and assistant treasurer Dan Smith.
City Attorney Kelly Klun told council members Tuesday that the deals call for pay increases of 2.75, 2.75 and 2.5 percent for the deal that starts Jan. 1, 2018 and runs through the end of 2020.
Under the new deal, Langowski will receive a salary of $108,098 next year.
Base salaries for the other supervisors are:
• Lahtonen, $78,835;
• Smith, $74,401;
• Heinrich, $65,139;
• Velcheff, $59,592.
The deals also include other benefits including longevity pay of an additonal two-to-seven percent for years of service ranging from five-to-30 years, as well as health insurance and paid vacation.
Klun said that an additional life insurance benefit, which was also awarded to the union which represents most city employees, is also part of the contract.
The deal puts the issue of employee pay and benefits to rest for an extended period.
“It will be quite some time before we come back to contract negotiations,” said Klun.
In other business, the council:
• Cancelled its December study session, which had been set for Dec. 26. No items were on the agenda.
• Heard from Langowski that the city skating rink, adjacent to the recreation center on Main Street, is now open.
• Accepted the recommendation of the city’s projects committee and entered into an agreement with firm TKDA to complete work to provide design, bidding and construction services for a proposed timber frame picnic pavilion at Semer’s Park.
• Upon recommendation of the airport commission, approve a five-year real estate lease with the Federal Aviation Administration.
• Gave police sergeant George Burger permission to attend the 2018 Lifesavers Conference in San Antonio, Tex.
• Authorized council members and key staff to attend a League of Minnesota Cities Leadership Conference next month in Brooklyn Park.