City council to list senior citizens center with realtor

By Chad Koenen


For much of the past year the City of Henning has been waiting for the results of a wage study for full-time city employees. 

Last Monday night the city council received its wage study, which showed the actual employee wages are quite similar to a bench average identified by the wage study.

During a presentation of the rate study to the city council, representatives who completed the study stated the study will provide a benchmark and guide for future and current employees and ensure proper compensation. As a whole, the wage study found that most employees were being paid at least 85 percent of the benchmark wage, which also didn’t account for things like insurance and other fringe benefits. In fact, some of the wage categories were just 2-3 percentage points off of what the Henning wage, to actual benchmark wage, was identified.

The only two employees who fell below 85 percent of the benchmark wage in their hourly compensation was an LPN at Willow Creek and the city clerk/treasurer.

While it was discussing the wage study, the city council’s discussion quickly pivoted to a dramatic increase in insurance costs for 2023. Several council members said any potential raise, when looking at the wage study, should also take into account an increase in insurance. 

Utility Supervisor Ted Strand said one of his concerns was the large increase in the health insurance costs that could be shouldered by the employees. He was concerned some employees would not be able to afford up to a $600 per month increase in premiums for a family plan if the city did not cover the increase in the plan. 

Henning Mayor Darren Wiese provided some clarity to the question over the employee insurance as the city has different options available for employees to choose from for their insurance plan. In the past, the city has covered the cost of a family health insurance plan, but Wiese said the city council would need to approve paying for the increase in the monthly premium, otherwise that cost would fall onto the shoulders of the employees. Some of the insurance premiums increased by as much as 49 percent. 

Henning City Councilmen Scott Hart and Jim Haberer both spoke in favor of covering the increase in the insurance premium for employees, but wanted to look at options down the road for insurance and any potential wage increase. In his opinion, Haberer said the employee wages should be left where they are at the moment for pay and the city should cover the increase in the insurance premiums. 

Strand said he could not speak for all of the other employees, but he thought that plan would a good option for employees, especially considering the findings of the employee wage study. Several other employees also agreed with the plan of the city covering the increase in insurance, and leaving the employee salaries where they are currently. 

The city council approved covering the increase in insurance premiums and will look at its options for both insurance and wages in 2023.

In other news

• Approved contributing $1,000 as part of the Missouri River Energy Services Pages with a Purpose grant. As part of the grant, Missouri River will contribute $1,000, which then must be matched, to purchase books and other reading materials for the library. 

• Approved seeking a MnDOT Active Transportation Infrastructure Program grant that could provide anywhere from $50,000-500,000 in funding for upcoming stand alone road and infrastructure projects. The estimated cost for completing the work necessary to apply for the grant was $5,000. The city council agreed to seek $50,000 for the grant, which has $3.5 million available statewide, to help cover a portion of its TSA grant that required a local match. The new grant does not have a local match and can be used to offset costs associated with other grants. 

• Approved increasing the amount of off-sale liquor licenses from the current one to up to three. Currently just Gateway Pub has an off-sale liquor license, but the soon-to-be constructed convenience store owners have expressed an interest in opening a bottle shop. 

• Approved listing the senior citizens building with a realtor to potentially sell the building.

• Heard the Henning Ambulance Service responded to 26 calls in November and have responded to 378 calls already this year.

• Heard that Willow Creek Assisted Living has 29 residents, of which 23 are on services. 

• Accepted a $5,500 employee initiative grant to help pay for updates to the break room, Willow Creek apparel and gift certificates for employees. 

• Heard someone backed into a well at the water treatment plant and caused anywhere from $35,000-50,000 in damages to the well. The individual who caused the damage has been identified and the well will be repaired in the near future. In the meantime large hay bales currently cover the damaged well.