Council considers background check ordinance

NEW ULM – The City Council gave the first reading for an ordinance regulating procedures for conducting criminal history background checks on Tuesday.

Because councilors were concerned about verifying all aspects of meeting legal standards, they requested the ordinance be reviewed before its final reading and potential adoption next month.

The ordinance was drawn up because new state rules only allow cities to perform background checks by ordinance going forward.

The ordinance would allow background checks for applicants to jobs with the City. These positions include full-time or part-time employees, volunteer firefighters, volunteer police reserve officers and anybody working with children or vulnerable adults. It does not apply to applicants or nominees to City boards or commissions.

Applicants for a liquor license, housing assistance administered by the City and for tenancy in rental housing owned or managed by the City will also be potentially subject to criminal background checks.

The background checks will not be conducted without the written consent of the individual and are not mandatory.

In other action, the Council tabled the proposal to begin bids for the Park and Recreation Department project for an interior vapor impermeable membrane for the Recreation Center’s indoor swimming pool. The decision was prompted by concerns about the consulting firm RSI’s quoted fee for the project at $12,000 for a project expected to cost $50,000. The Council wanted additional details from the Park and Recreation director at the next meeting, particularly if any other consulting firms would be available at a lower price. The Park and Recreation Department has $200,000 budgeted or the project.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at

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