Greenwood Board of Supervisors met Tuesday

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2018 — As soon as I read Dr. John Bassing’s morning email I knew that the Tuesday evening regular meeting of the Greenwood Town Board would be interesting.

Dr. Bassing wrote, as he often does, to alert me to an error I well may have made in my reporting the township’s September 11 supervisor’s meeting. According to Bassing “ your article on Greenwood Township dated Sept 11 you state the Board approved the payment of all current claims against the township.  I think there was not a motion to approve the claims.”

He may well be correct. I did report that the board had approved payment of its bills at the September meeting. I do know that the board listened to Township Clerk Sue Drobac read a lengthy list of each and every claim presented, and I know that there were no objections raised by any board member on any of the bills. The full board of supervisors was fully aware how each and every dime of the township’s money was being spent and approved paying the obligations which arose during the month which had passed since the board last met in August. At that September meeting, as it does at nearly every meeting, the board paused in its handling the township business on its agenda to acquire the signature of each of the five supervisors approving the payment of claims presented.

What I don’t know for sure is if there was a proper motion, support and majority vote to actually approve paying those bills. It would be a simple matter to look in my notebooks to see what I actually recorded, at that time, but, I thought, I can just take Bassing’s word and assume that, perhaps, there was not a proper motion and vote. It certainly would not be the end of the world and, once brought to the attention of the town board, a simple enough matter to correct.

I do, however, regret my lapse in complete and thorough reporting and offer sincere apologies to readers.

— Anthony Sikora

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Most township meetings which occur each month across Minnesota are actually quite boring and uneventful affairs with some small number of supervisors meeting to take care of the township bills, discuss, and approve or reject any business before the board as well consider the upcoming needs of the township in its efforts to improve the life of its local residents. The Tuesday, October 9, 2018 meeting of the Greenwood Town Board of supervisors proved to be little different from one of those typical township meetings. However, before the meeting was over, Chairman Mike Ralston had to gavel citizens out of order during public input and because the township was finished with its business, and public input devolved into a shouting match which would never accomplish anything, Supervisor Carmen DeLuca moved, with support from Supervisor Paul Skubic, to adjourn the meeting and by unanimous vote provided a dramatic end to the meeting.

What led the town board to this closing point was regular, routine and professional—a textbook example of how to conduct a township meeting.

Chairman Ralston called the meeting to order and it was noted that Supervisor Byron Beihoffer was not going to be able to be in attendance at this meeting. Following the traditional Pledge of Allegiance recitation Ralston asked to move public input and correspondence to the end of the agenda and with motion, support and by vote this was accomplished and the agenda was accepted as amended.

The board next unanimously approved the September 11, township meeting minutes. The minutes, as presented by Greenwood Clerk Sue Drobac, noted that there was “no formal motion” on paying the claims against the township.

The town board also unanimously approved the report provided by Greenwood Treasurer Pam Rodgers. The financial reports note September ending balances:

Checking Account — $227,507.01

Long Term Investments — $251,725.95

Savings Accounts — $230,721.03

Totaling — $709,953.99

Rodgers reported that the township subtracted an additional $203.75 from the last month end balances because of payroll deposit errors, and added $2.17 on top of the ending balance, now declaring $709,956.16 to reconcile items to match Schedule 1. “The payroll deposit was incorrect—it wasn’t a big deal and it’s now corrected,” Rogers said.

The township receipted $16,409.48 in income over the past month from 911 sign sales, town hall and pavilion rent, a $15,000 donation to the Greenwood Township Fire Department from the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and $1,004.48 in interest revenue.

Chairman Ralston reported that Supervisor Beihoffer was researching options in installing an irrigation well at the township’s pavilion and because of his absence asked the clerk to move that discussion onto the November agenda.

Ralston also asked the clerk to document the current process required to rent the pavilion and make suggestions towards developing a rental form and present that information at a future meeting.

A letter of complaint from Jeff Maus, alleging numerous allegations of disrespectful treatment and the failure of the town board to investigate, in good faith, other complaints he has made, was read into the record by Clerk Drobac.

Chairman Ralston reported that Maus’ letter has been forwarded to the township’s attorney for review and legal advice.

The town board was updated on the issues related to the only road the township has authority and responsibility over—Birch Point Road Extension. Ralston reported that he has discussed, with the township attorney, potential issues which will arise when extensive maintenance on that road is required and he reported that there is a process by which the township can levy adjacent property owners to pay for necessary repairs. It was also reported that the portion of road known as “Old” 77 is still a county road and the township is not responsible for its maintenance.

Clerk Drobac reported that over the past 12 months, October 2017 through September 2017, the township spent $9,124 on hiring outside maintenance work. It is expected that this information will be utilized as the township develops its next budget and considers on how best to manage the township’s ongoing maintenance requirements.

The board of supervisors and Fire Chief Dave Fazio reviewed the Fire Department’s suggested changes to its Standard Operating Guidelines and Paid on Call guidelines. The town board unanimously approved the suggested changes and will send a copy to the township attorney for his review.

When Chairman Ralston asked Clerk Drobac to describe the process the township undertakes in selecting election judges she responded, “There is no process.” She explained that she has a list of potential judges and that when people ask to be a judge she adds them to the list. There is a required training all judges must attend, however, the township pays for the training, Drobac told the board. There have been three new applicants to serve as an election judge, the board learned

Supervisor DeLuca said that he believes local residents should have first opportunity to serve as a judge.

Supervisor Skubic questioned if there has ever been a problem with not having enough judges and learned from the clerk, that “No,” there has always been extra judges and the practice has been to declare alternate judges, who could be called to serve, if other, scheduled judges can not fulfill the obligation.

Treasurer Rodgers noted that long-term judges are sometimes no longer available and that the township should consider training new judges to keep a number of judges available to serve. “Mary Richard has moved out of the township,” Rodgers said.

“She can still serve as a judge,” Drobac reminded the board. Discussion on this issue ended without any formal action being undertaken by the town board.

Under public input, Bassing questioned if the township has undertaken any action on his complaint about inactive firefighters being kept on the roster and wrongfully increasing certain aid amounts the township receives. He went on to chastise the board for its lack of training and erroneous paying the September bills without proper motion, support and vote. Bassing’s final concern and advice to the town board was that the township should avoid accepting responsibility for “Old” highway 77.

Chairman Ralston said that he could not agree more with Bassing. “I’m against accepting any new roads, too!,” Ralston emphasized. Answering the concerns about the incorrect fire and EMR rosters, Ralston reported that as soon as the township updates the fire department Standard Operating Guidelines a review can be made and the rosters kept updated and accurate.

Mark Drobac asked for an update on his request to receive the township inventory of equipment. “I just received the Clerk’s inventory,” Ralston noted. “I have had the fire department list for some time and will present both at the next township meeting,” Ralston said.

Jeff Maus questioned the town board’s policy of moving public input to the end of the meeting. “It is then too late to make comments on agenda items,” Maus complained.

Steve Rodgers interjected, to much applause, “I applaud moving the comments to the end — too often public comments have been used to try and hijack the agenda,” Rodgers said.

Maus then continued reciting a litany of potential election slogans current town board members might use the next time they run for office. The slogans were written in a manner suggesting that town board members were less than forthright and honest in their dealings with the township.

Maus was able to recite many potential slogans before ultimately being gaveled into silence by Chairman Ralston. He started shouting that the chairman was trying to silence his first amendment rights. Joanne Bassing started yelling that she too wanted to be heard, and (John) Bassing was again loudly claiming a need for more board training and about the lack of a vote to approve the September bills.

In other action, the Greenwood Town Board of Supervisors:

• Passed a motion approving the claims presented against the township on September 11, and made formal approval of paying those bills, correcting the improper procedure undertaken in September

• Passed resolution 1864 accepting the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa donation of $15,000 to the Greenwood Township Fire Department

• Approved, upon recommendation by Supervisor DeLuca, adjusting two Pine Island fire numbers and sending registered letters acknowledging the changes to the two affected property owners

• Approved purchasing $8,468 in insurance for the township from Western World Insurance

• Alerted township residents that St. Louis County takes littering seriously at its recycling containers and because someone illegally dumped shipping packaging at the canister site with their address still prominently displayed on the packaging the county sheriff’s office if filing charges against the perpetrator

• Approved the purchase of new signage to display recycling rules for the public at the canister sire at the town hall

• Approved calling for bids on snowplowing services for the township following the township’s receipt of a letter from T. J. Kladivo, last winter season’s snowplowing provider

• Approved seeking the sale of unused fire department radios and other unused electronic equipment

• Learned that a Free Will donation Pizza Party and Silent Auction will be undertaken, between 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon, until 7:00 o’clock the evening of Saturday October 20, to benefit the Greenwood Recreation Board’s public service work and that a pavilion area cleanup will be undertaken on Thursday, November 8.