COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: January 20th, 2023
Meetings and Announcements:
The next regular City Council Meeting will be on Monday, January 23rd. We will have commission interviews for the Environmental and Natural Resource opening at a workshop pre-council meeting. There are two opening and six applicants. We will interview the candidates at the 6 pm Workshop. At the end of the Council meeting we will have a closed session to give updates on the Labor Contracts.
At our February 27th City Council meeting, I will not be present. Mike Darrow will be Acting City Manager. We are planning to give you an update on the TIF Plans and Development Agreements for the Reuter Walton and Enclave Projects. Ehlers and CD Director Parr will be presenting this information.
Purple Line Engagement Process Update
I am working to get volunteers for the Advisory Committee. I am making progress but finding some of those I have contacted, especially the business community are hesitant to commit to 5 meetings. I have indicated that we would certainly welcome their participation at the 3rd meeting where we will be talking with businesses. Below is the schedule for the meetings. They will all be held in the City Council Chambers, except for meeting 4 with the general public and residents. Meetings will take place from 6- 8 pm. In addition to the scheduled meetings staff has included transportation questions in the community survey and will be posting on social media to invite residents to participate in this process.
- Meeting #1, February 1st. Guest presenters will be staff from the Met Council
- Meeting #2 February 15th. Guest presenters will be the No Purple Line Association
- Meeting #3 February 22nd. Guest will be members of the business community
- Meeting #4 February 28th(note this is a Tuesday night) and will be open to the public and residents on zoom.
- Meeting #5 March 8th This will be to conduct final overview, review transit options and develop recommendations.
News from the League of Minnesota Cities
Public Safety Duty Disabilities Remain a Top League Priority- see that attached article on the impacts of PTSD Claims and their work to try and provide better care for public safety personnel.
By Anne Finn
Public safety employees face situations in the line of duty that put them at risk for mental injuries. In recent years, Minnesota has seen troubling trends around public safety duty disabilities related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fortunately, according to experts, the risk of a mental injury can be lowered by implementing preventive measures, such as robust wellness programs, normalizing conversations about mental health, and providing access to tools like peer support. Medical experts, including the Mayo Clinic, agree most people diagnosed with PTSD can be successfully treated if they receive timely and appropriate professional help.
Safety officer City officials and public safety leaders, with help from the League of Minnesota Cities, have been working to implement mental injury prevention measures. The League has launched the PTSD and Mental Health Toolkit and has partnered with several organizations to promote awareness about the importance of implementing public safety mental wellness strategies.
The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) established the Peer Support Advisory Board and sponsored a Department of Public Safety (DPS)-approved peer support training course that meets the new DPS 30-hour requirement for anyone wanting to become a public safety peer-to-peer counselor in Minnesota.
The League believes there is a role for the state in implementing policies and funding to increase mental injury prevention and treatment initiatives so first responders will stay healthy and on the job, and those that become injured can recover from mental injuries and return to work.
Despite the best efforts of such stakeholders as the League, the Association of Minnesota Counties, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, and the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, a bipartisan bill to help address troubling trends around public safety duty disabilities related to PTSD did not become law in 2022. As a result, the human and financial tolls of these trends have continued, and the high rate of duty disability retirements is contributing to the destabilization of the Public Employees Retirement Association Police and Fire (PERA-P&F) Plan.
Troubling trends in PERA
According to the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), the number of public safety duty disability claims began to consistently climb in 2019. Following are the number of applications PERA has received in recent years:
- 2019: 118 applications.
- 2020: 241 applications.
- 2021: 307 applications.
- 2022: 257 applications.
More than 80% of the applications are related to PTSD. While the perception may be that claims are coming only from the state’s largest cities, 39% of the claims are from outside Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The bulk (95%) of the applications are from law-enforcement employees, although law enforcement makes up only 80% of the PERA-P&F Plan, with firefighters making up 20%. Fewer than 1% of applications are denied by PERA, which must follow eligibility criteria set by state law.
Charts showing data for PERA-P&F plan duty disability applications. When an employee becomes eligible for a PERA-P&F duty disability, the employee also becomes eligible for continued health insurance under Minnesota Statutes, sections 299A.465. The statute, known as the Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB), provides that the employer at the time of injury is responsible for the continued payment of the employer’s contribution for coverage of the officer or firefighter — and in some cases, the employee’s dependents — until the employee reaches age 65.
When the PSOB law was enacted, the state was fully reimbursing employers for the cost of complying with the continued health insurance mandate. In the early 2000s, the Legislature stopped fully funding the reimbursement account and passed an amendment to the statute that said employers would only be reimbursed on a prorated basis. As of the end of fiscal year 2021, the state was only reimbursing $1.367 million of the $10.691 million requested by employers.
This is the news for the week. As always, please call with any questions or concerns about the above content or the Council packet.