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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Greenwood clerk leaves meeting

Town Board again refuses her demand for additional pay

Jodi Summit
Posted 5/11/22

GREENWOOD TWP- The Greenwood Town Board had a united front on one major topic at their May 10 meeting– their refusal to grant the demand from elected clerk Debby Spicer for additional pay.The …

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Greenwood clerk leaves meeting

Town Board again refuses her demand for additional pay

Posted

GREENWOOD TWP- The Greenwood Town Board had a united front on one major topic at their May 10 meeting– their refusal to grant the demand from elected clerk Debby Spicer for additional pay.
The meeting agenda had the approval of nine sets of minutes, dating back to Jan. 11, but the board still had not seen copies of minutes from seven of those meetings.
“Is there a reason we don’t have the minutes typed up?” asked Chairman Sue Drobac.
“I haven’t had the time,” said Spicer. “If I wasn’t going to be paid for that, I wasn’t going to have the time for that.”
Spicer again told the board that she had submitted a list of extra hours that she wished to get paid for.
“If I get paid for those extra hours, you get the minutes,” she told the board.
The clerk is paid with a monthly salary, with the expectation that the clerk’s office is staffed 12 hours a week, but as with any other elected position, the job can entail many other hours as needed.
Drobac also asked Spicer if she had been in the office that day.
“I was working from home,” said Spicer. “I can’t keep that schedule if I’m not being paid.”
The board discussed hiring someone else to complete the meeting minutes, and then deducting that cost from the clerk’s monthly salary.
“This work is part of the clerk’s job,” said Drobac.
“You are really vindictive,” said Spicer. “The board is responsible for board duties.” She claimed that the clerk is not even required to be at the town board meetings or record minutes, a claim that appears contrary to state law (see sidebar), which does require a clerk to record minutes.
Spicer was reminded that the clerk’s salary had been set back in January, prior to her running for office.
“You knew what it was when you took the job,” said Drobac.
Spicer said it would take her about 25 hours to complete the minutes.
“My pay is based on hours,” she insisted.
“That simply is not true,” said Supervisor Barb Lofquist.
Supervisor Mike Ralston noted that when the board had hired Spicer as interim clerk back in 2020, the pay was based on hours worked, but as an elected official, it was not an hourly job.
“The clerk salary has been set,” he said, “and that is what she is paid to do her duties. There is no hourly rate.”
When Spicer again tried to argue her case, the chair gaveled her down.
“I am leaving,” said Spicer, “I don’t need to be at a hostile meeting.”
“I am sorry we have a clerk who wants the job but doesn’t want to do the work,” said Drobac. “That is my opinion.”
A motion to hire someone to complete the minutes and other clerk duties as assigned for $20 per hour, and to deduct the amount paid from the clerk’s salary passed on a unanimous vote.
Ralston said he thought he had copies of minutes from some of the earlier meetings that Spicer had sent to him when he was chair, and would forward them to the board for review.
The town board cannot act as the employer of the town clerk since it is an elected position. They do have the authority, as they did back in 2020 to then-clerk Drobac, to change the salary of the clerk. The township did ask voters, two years in a row, to change from an elected to an appointed (employee) clerk and treasurer, but township residents voted down the measure.

Minnesota Statute 2021 367.11 CLERK’S DUTIES.
It shall be the duty of the town clerk:
(1) to act as clerk of the town board and keep in the clerk’s office a true record of all of its proceedings;
(2) unless otherwise provided by law, to have custody of the records, books, and papers of the town and file and safely keep all papers required by law to be filed in the clerk’s office;
(3) to record minutes of the proceedings of every town meeting in the book of town records and enter in them at length every order or direction and all rules and regulations made by the town meeting;
(4) to file and preserve all accounts audited by the town board or allowed at a town meeting and enter a statement of them in the book of records;
(5) to record every request for a special vote or special town meeting and properly post the requisite notices of them;
(6) to post, as required by law, fair copies of all bylaws made by the town, and make a signed entry in the town records, of the time when and the places where they were posted and record in full all ordinances passed by the town board in an ordinance book;
(7) to furnish to the annual meeting of the town board of audit every statement from the county treasurer of money paid to the town treasurer, and all other information about fiscal affairs of the town in the clerk’s possession, and all accounts, claims, and demands against the town filed with the clerk; and
(8) to perform any other duties required by law.

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