Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, February 23, 1998

Winsted council considers individual liability insurance


Would or would not individual liability insurance be a good thing for city council members to carry?

Council Member Gary Lenz brought up that issue to the Winsted City Council Tuesday.

"Serving on the council is a volunteer effort," Lenz said, and although a lawsuit brought by SJ&F Enterprises of Winsted was dropped against the council, Lenz felt that the possibility of a council getting sued would have a "chilling effect" on anyone else interested in being on the council.

Lenz suggested if council members carry liability insurance, the city either reimburse half the cost, or the council get a pay raise to cover the cost.

Council Member Bonnie Quast, who said she recently bought such a policy, agreed with Lenz.

"I really think this experience has been a wake-up call for us," Lenz said.

Mayor Don Guggemos said he also carried individual liability insurance, but it was not purchased because of his position.

City Attorney Fran Eggert said he would check with the League of Minnesota Cities on the pros and cons of carrying such insurance.

Eggert also brought up that with additional insurance coverage, that would be more money someone could sue for.

At present, the city is covered by a $600,000 umbrella policy. Eggert said according to state statute, that is the limit the city could be liable for.

Building inspection

Paul Waldron, owner of the building inspection firm, Paul Waldron and Associates, gave a sales pitch to the council.

Waldron was at the meeting at the request of Lenz, and covered what his company would do if hired as the city's building inspector.

Currently, the city has retained Ed Anderson to conduct the inspections.

Waldron said his company contracts with 12 cities, including Lester Prairie, Silver Lake, Plato, and Glencoe.

Waldron outlined procedures his inspectors follow and the forms used.

He said all his inspectors are certified. Waldron also said it is legal to hire non-certified inspectors and have them work under his license, but he does not do that.

As to pay, Waldron said for the first year, his pay would be based on the city's current permit fee scale, but noted the city's fees are below the state's 1988 building fee schedule.

He said this is the schedule the other cities use and his pay is based on a percentage of that.

Waldron said for the increased fee, the city would be getting more services than with the current building inspector.

The council wanted time to look over Waldron's information and did not make a decision.

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