SAUK RAPIDS - Sauk Rapids is the latest metro area city to join the Regional Human Rights Office.

The city council voted four-to-one tonight (Monday) to take St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis up on his offer to join at no cost to the city for the next 30 months.  Kleis has said he hopes the state will realize the importance of the regional office after the 30 months are up, and will then begin funding it at the state level.  The St. Cloud Regional Human Rights Office is the only human rights office in the state outside of St. Paul.

Sauk Rapids Mayor Brad Gunderson was the only "no" vote.  He says he believes it's a duplication of services that's already provided, and it's not necessary.  Gunderson says he also voted against the city joining the office in 2007 and again in 2010.

Council member Paul Weber says there are a lot of state services that are duplicated at the local level.  He also says he doesn't think the city has anything to lose by joining at this time.

Sauk Rapids was originally approached to join the Regional Human Rights Office in 2007, which they turned down.  They were approached again in 2010 at a reduced rate, and turned it down again.

Sauk Rapids joins St. Joseph and Sartell as members of the office.  St. Augusta and Waite Park both voted against joining.