Minnesota Cities Magazine
More from Jul-Aug 2017 issue

Ask LMC: Can the City Do Drug and Alcohol Testing for Job Applicants?

Items used for doing a urine test to check for drugs and alcohol in a person's systemHiring
Q: Can we do pre-employment drug and alcohol testing for job applicants who are not required to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL)?

LMC: Yes. The choice to conduct pre-employment drug and alcohol testing is covered by state law (known as DATWA—Minnesota’s Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act). This is separate from the required pre-employment testing under the Federal Department of Transportation CDL drug testing law. Prior to conducting the testing, it’s crucial to make sure you follow all the requirements of state law, which begins by writing a detailed policy on drug and alcohol testing. One of the important provisions of the law is to make sure you obtain applicant or employee written consent and provide a copy of your city’s drug and alcohol testing policy prior to testing, but after a conditional job offer has been made. For more information, download the League’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Toolkit at www.lmc.org/datt. It includes model documents and policies to help you work through this important law.

Answered by Human Resources Director Laura Kushner: lkushner@lmc.org

Contractors
Q: How do I know if a contractor meets the city’s insurance requirements?

LMC: The city should require contractors to provide a certificate of insurance, which is a document issued by the contractor’s insurance company to verify the existence of insurance. A certificate of insurance does not create a contract; it is issued for information purposes only. The certificate should be reviewed to make sure:

  • The contractor has the types of insurance required by the city.
  • The contractor meets the minimum dollar amounts of coverage.
  • The city has been added as an additional insured to the contractor’s liability insurance.
  • The insurance policies are in effect during the project period.

The city will be listed as the certificate holder. A certificate holder, however, is not entitled to any rights under a contractor’s liability insurance. It is important to make sure the city is named as an additional insured. For additional protection, a city might request a copy of the additional insured endorsement. Your city’s insurance agent and the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust can assist in reviewing certificates. For more details, see pages 22-23 and Appendix D of the LMC information memo at www.lmc.org/contracts.

Answered by Risk Management Attorney Chris Smith: csmith@lmc.org

A bill with Utility Billing
Q: What can cities do to collect on residents’ unpaid water and sewer bills?

LMC: If provided for in the city ordinance, the municipal utility can either shut off water to the property (subject to certain limitations) or certify the delinquent water charges to the county auditor for collection with taxes. Although cities can shut off water, it may be more advantageous for the city to certify delinquent water charges because:

  • The municipal utility does not have to determine whether the property is occupied.
  • The municipal utility is protected if the property with delinquent utility charges is sold after the delinquent charges are certified.
  • Confusion is alleviated when joint owners of property disagree as to who is responsible for unpaid charges (for example, in divorce proceedings). The unpaid charges simply attach to the property and must be paid as property taxes are paid.
  • Certified delinquent charges take priority over other unsecured creditors if a consumer later files for bankruptcy.
  • Certification prevents large delinquent bills carrying over from year to year.
  • Once delinquent bills are certified, staff time spent trying to collect payment is eliminated.
  • Certified charges survive the tax forfeiture process.
  • Concerns about shutting off water in cold weather are eliminated.
  • Shutting off water may damage older infrastructure.

For more details, see the LMC information memo at www.lmc.org/utilitypayments.

Answered by Research Attorney Megan Hafner: mhafner@lmc.org

Correction
In the May-June 2017 edition of “Ask LMC,” there was an error regarding the type of certification needed to be a lifeguard at a pool or splash pad. Lifeguards at these facilities must have an American Red Cross lifeguard certification or similar certification.

Read the July-August issue of Minnesota Cities magazine

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