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ROCHESTER CITY COUNCIL NOTEBOOK Council passes new travel policy

The Rochester City Council on Monday unanimously approved a new policy regarding officials' interstate and international travel.

The policy, required under a new state law, sets rules for approving official trips, and for reimbursing lodging, food, travel and miscellaneous expenses.

Elected officials require council approval for trips; city employees need approval from their supervisors.

Meals are to be reimbursed at a maximum $85 per day, including tips. Airfare is to be reimbursed at the coach-class cost, and mileage is to be paid at no more than the standard federal rate. Long-distance telephone charges are eligible for reimbursement, but only if they're for business calls. Car rentals are to be reimbursed at no more than the equivalent fares for taxis or airport shuttle services.

City reaches pay contracts with public safety workers

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The city has reached multiyear compensation agreements with two union groups representing public safety officials.

The council unanimously approved the agreements.

The first agreement, with 911 dispatchers, calls for 2 percent wage increases in 2005 and 2006. Employees in the bargaining group, IAFF Local No. 3869, will pay 5 percent of the cost for single health-care coverage and 15 percent of the cost for family coverage.

The second agreement, with the Rochester Police Supervisors Association, calls for 2 percent wage increases in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The police supervisors also are eligible for merit increases up to an additional 2 percent. The cost participation for health insurance matches the terms set for the 911 dispatchers.

Mayor's holiday gift: Asian water buffalo

File this under the heading "Christmas gifts for the person who has everything" -- though the real recipients are world citizens who have next to nothing.

Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede gave a $250 donation to Heifer International, an anti-hunger group, in the city council's name. He presented council members with his gift Monday.

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Brede's contribution, according to a card he received from Heifer International, will supply an Asian farmer with a water buffalo, used for farm labor. No one on the council, he said, has a water buffalo.

-- By Jeff Pieters

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