GREENWOOD TWP - After contentious questioning of Greenwood Township Clerk Sue Drobac’s work hours, the Greenwood Town Board cut Drobac’s pay by 40 percent and told her to reduce office …
GREENWOOD TWP - After contentious questioning of Greenwood Township Clerk Sue Drobac’s work hours, the Greenwood Town Board cut Drobac’s pay by 40 percent and told her to reduce office hours, at their Tuesday meeting.
The board reduced Drobac’s monthly salary of $2,316.61 to an hourly pay rate of $27 per hour, at a maximum of 12 hours a week. This effectively reduces her monthly salary to $1,404.
The clerk had been keeping the town hall office open for 20 hours a week, did other work from home as needed, and attended township meetings.
“We are trying to be fiscally conservative here,” said Chairman Mike Ralston, who said that Breitung Township keeps its office open only 12 hours a week.
The discussion, under an agenda item titled “township hall hours,” started with board members Ralston and Carmen DeLuca questioning if Drobac had been in the office during her regularly-set office hours after the town hall had been closed to the public due to COVID-19.
“I’ve been here all my regular hours,” Drobac told the board.
But Ralston questioned that statement, saying he had been at the town hall when she wasn’t there.
Drobac noted she had been out of the office one day the previous week, but had notified the chair and vice-chair, per township policy.
Drobac told the board that if the township was adhering to COVID-19 policies she shouldn’t even be working at the town hall office.
“I can’t do my work unless I am here,” she said. “I have gone home when I get my work done, leaving a message on the door so anyone who needs me can call, and I can come back down to the office.”
Drobac volunteered to do a time study so the supervisors can see how her time is being spent.
“I’ve been doing this job for four years,” Drobac said. “It sounds to me that you are saying I am staying here for no reason.”
Ralston told her he didn’t think the township needed to be spending the amount they were for clerk services. He said he had calculated that, if she was working 20 hours a week, she was making approximately $27 per hour.
Drobac insisted she could not get the township’s business done if they limited her hours to 12 per week. She noted that the previous clerk was at the town hall full-time.
“What is it you think I do?” Drobac asked.
Ralston replied, “I think there is a lot of social aspect down there.”
Drobac replied that perhaps the board should start reviewing the security camera footage.
“Then you can see how much time I am socializing versus doing my job,” she told him.
DeLuca said he felt the clerk’s job could be done in 12 hours a week and should be paid accordingly.
Drobac told the board that the clerk has the authority to set their own hours. But DeLuca told her the board has the authority to set the salary.
The board agreed that the clerk can set her own hours but voted to cap her pay at the equivalent of 12 hours per week.
“I think this is worth moving forward,” Ralston said. “She can take comp time if she needs to work more hours in a week.”
Drobac asked how that would work, but DeLuca pressed to take a vote on the motion, and “work it out afterwards.”
The motion passed 4-0. Supervisor Paul Skubic was absent.
The board has been at odds with Drobac for some time, particularly since she selected John Bassing, an occasional critic of the current board, to serve as deputy clerk. She has also objected to the board’s decision to install surveillance cameras in her office to monitor her activity.
Township treasurer resigns
The town board accepted the resignation of treasurer Pam Rodgers, with regret. Rodgers did not give a reason for her resignation, which is effective at the end of July.
The board noted that Rodgers had helped the township create and maintain its own Facebook page, and she had helped put the township’s financial information in more accessible forms for the town board.
The board voted to appoint Belinda Fazio as interim treasurer. Fazio had run for clerk previously. Fazio told the board she would like to appoint Tammy Mortaloni as deputy treasurer. The board set the pay rate for both positions at $25 per hour. The board did not set any limits on the hours for the treasurer.
The board voted to allow public use of the pavilion but will keep the town hall closed for public use at this time. The pavilion will be open to use “at one’s own risk,” and will require anyone wishing to reserve/rent the pavilion to sign a disclaimer holding the township harmless. The township will require that social distancing and other state guidelines are followed,. The township will not be cleaning or disinfecting the pavilion area.
Fire department training dollars
The board discussed a complaint made by two former fire department members claiming the department had been submitting inaccurate department rosters to the Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training. Scott Kregness and Peter Makowski asked that their names be removed from the roster and noted that they had been listed on the roster for several years, along with other retired or resigned members.
“We allege that by using our names, Greenwood Fire Chief Dave Fazio has engaged in the fraudulent obtaining of training monies.”
Fire departments receive reimbursement for training costs, and the total amount they are permitted to receive depends on the number of department members.
The letter also asked that the Greenwood department’s training requests be investigated.
Board members questioned why they had not received a copy of this letter, on which they were copied, on June 17, when the letter was dated.
Fazio told the board they had reviewed this issue last year when it was brought to the board’s attention by John Bassing.
“Last year we took the names off that were pensioners,” Fazio said. “The corrections were made.” Fazio said he had submitted current information to the state board.
Ralston said the township had also clarified the department’s rules to make it easier to take inactive or retired members off the department roster.
The board also approved some minor changes to the fire departments SOGs, and added a new section detailing that any member who had been unexcused and inactive, and not attending scheduled training/drills for six months, will be terminated from the fire department.
In other business the board:
• Approved the 2020 interim Tower Ambulance Commission subsidy contract and voted to pay their first-half payment in August and second-half payment in December.
• Took no action on making budget cuts; the item will be on the agenda again next month.
• Heard that Frontier will be extending broadband internet service to the end of Birch Point and gave township permission for the extension. The cost will be paid by the resident who wanted the service.
• Heard from broadband committee member John Bassing about the progress of the regionwide effort to bring broadband-quality internet service to the area. Bassing reported that the surveys had been tallied, and now the data was being reviewed by possible providers to see if they are interested. The next step is applying for a statewide “Border to Border” grant to cover some of the installation costs. Those grants are due in September.
• Will apply for CARES Act funding to reimburse the township for any unbudgeted COVID-19 related expenses. The township is eligible for up to $22,500, but the money can only be spent on specific items, and the township will need to provide monthly reports and submit to a state, and possibly also a federal, audit of their use of the funds. The township asked fire department secretary Tammy Mortaloni to be in charge of the process. Any time she spends on the matter can be reimbursed under the CARES Act grant. They set her wage at $25 per hour.
• Heard that the township will not be charged for a public meeting notice they had placed in The Tower News that had the wrong meeting date information.
• Agreed to continue to hold monthly board meetings via telephone conference. Ralston said that the Minnesota Association of Townships is still recommending virtual meetings.