GREENWOOD TWP- A proposal by Greenwood Chair Mike Ralston to reduce township elected officials’ salaries in 2021 by approximately 40 percent failed for lack of a second at the Sept. 8 town …
GREENWOOD TWP- A proposal by Greenwood Chair Mike Ralston to reduce township elected officials’ salaries in 2021 by approximately 40 percent failed for lack of a second at the Sept. 8 town board meeting.
Ralston again pressed the board to seriously consider budget cuts, stating the township’s unrestricted reserves were dipping below its current annual spending, and next year’s levy, at $150,000, is less than half the township’s projected spending.
The town board cut the clerk’s pay in August by a little over 40 percent, a move that eventually led to the clerk’s resignation. The township is currently working with an interim clerk and interim treasurer, both now on hourly pay.
Ralston’s proposal did not include any reductions in fire department officer salaries, which currently total a little over $25,000 a year. Town board salaries budgeted for 2020 totaled $65,287. Ralston’s proposed cuts would reduce spending by a little over $26,000 for 2021.
The board, once again, did not have a substantive discussion about the budget.
The meeting, via teleconference, will be continued on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m., because township officials were still working on getting financial accounts transferred to the new interim clerk Deb Spicer and interim treasurer Belinda Fazio. The board is expected to approve paying the bills and payroll on Thursday.
Departing clerk Sue Drobac did not leave computer passwords for the township computer, leaving the new interim clerk in the same position Drobac was in when first elected, without access to township files. The township was working with its computer tech firm to grant access, which Ralston expected to happen in a day or two.
The township is still waiting for a proposal from NEO, the firm working with the Blandin Broadband Committee, and Ralston also told the board that CTC was still interested in working in the township.
“I know a lot of people want to broaden coverage of broadband,” Ralston said. “The future of the area is broadband. It is the second-coming of the telephone up here.”
Supervisor Byron Beihoffer said he wasn’t hearing any enthusiasm for broadband.
“It looks like the community isn’t that gung-ho,” said Beihoffer, who said he had been talking to his neighbors. “A lot of people don’t want to spend one or two million dollars hooking up when they are happy with the internet they have.”
Ralston said he would keep the issue on the monthly agenda, and noted that before any township money was spent, they would “bring it up to a vote of the township.”
In other business the board:
• Heard from Tammy Mortaloni, who is overseeing the paperwork for the CARES Act spending. The township has received $22,500 and has spent between $8,000 and $9,000 so far on covered expenses related to the coronavirus. She told the board that all this spending will be audited by the state next year.
“It has to be a necessary expense that was not budgeted for,” she said.
The township has purchased some new emergency responder equipment, including pagers, and Mortaloni said they are looking at purchasing additional new pagers.
• Suspended two township policies relating to contact with the township attorneys. This was recommended by the township attorney, Ralston said, who had concerns about issues with attorney-client privilege.
• Approved purchasing portable landing zone lighting for medical helicopters, along with a new infrared camera for the fire boat.
• Discussed a letter from the Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and the Minnesota Fire Marshal regarding a complaint that had been made about the township’s fire department roster being overstated, which meant additional training funding allocated to the township. The letter noted there were not clear guidelines in place to determine who remained on the roster, and when a member is no longer eligible. The letter stated the training reimbursements granted to the township were not found to be excessive, even after adjusting the rosters, and added that the township had not used, and therefore requested, the full amounts that were allocated.
• Heard that the Minnesota Association of Townships can help the board develop a plan to restart in-person meetings at the town hall. Meetings would need to be limited to 25 percent of the town hall’s capacity, social distancing would be required, and mask wearing would be strongly encouraged. Township officials were not certain of the town hall capacity, so said they would discuss the issue again.