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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Greenwood town board to begin in-person meetings in May

Jodi Summit
Posted 4/21/21

GREENWOOD TWP- The Greenwood Town Board will begin meeting in person effective with their regular May 11 meeting. Attendance at the meeting in the town hall will be limited to between 30 and 35 …

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Greenwood town board to begin in-person meetings in May


GREENWOOD TWP- The Greenwood Town Board will begin meeting in person effective with their regular May 11 meeting. Attendance at the meeting in the town hall will be limited to between 30 and 35 people to meet social distancing requirements, and the option to listen in on meetings via teleconference will be provided. Masks will be required.
The in-person meetings, Chairman Mike Ralston said, would be continued “as long as guidance allows it.”
Greenwood is one of the last area governmental bodies to go back to in-person meetings.
At their regular meeting on April 13, the board also discussed adding public comment back to the agenda. Public commentshad been discontinued when the township started meeting virtually last year.
A motion by newly -elected Supervisor Sue Drobac to add public comment back on the beginning of the monthly agenda failed, with Ralston, Supervisor Carmen DeLuca, and Supervisor Paul Skubic voting against.
“People feel left out of the process,” said Drobac.
A motion to add back public comment at the end of the meeting and to limit such comment only to matters already on the meeting agenda passed 3-2, with Drobac and the second newly-elected Supervisor Barb Lofquist voting against.
Julie Horihan, who had been listening in on the telemeeting, asked how residents can see the agenda in advance.
“Can’t it be put on the website?” she asked.
The township does email the agenda to interested parties, and anyone can email the clerk to be put on the notification list, they said. Clerk Debby Spicer said she would try to get it posted on the website but said she couldn’t guarantee she would always have time.
The board discussed setting guidelines for supervisors to notify the clerk of requested agenda additions so the clerk could get the agenda prepared by the Thursday prior to each meeting. The clerk’s regular hours are only on Tuesday through Thursday.
Drobac also asked if a policy could be set for a timeframe for the clerk to respond to requests by board members.
“There was something simple I wanted to look at,” Drobac said. “It would have taken half a minute to pull it from the drawer.”
Drobac said that in the time Spicer argued with her about not having the time to get the info, she could have simply gotten the file for her.
Spicer said she would attempt to fill such requests within five working days, though with the clerk only working three days a week, this could mean a long delay.
Drobac said the issue goes back to the town board limiting the clerk’s hours.
“She can’t do all the work with the hours she can put in,” Drobac said. “That’s the big thing.”
Ralston said the clerk should attempt to do such duties in a “timely fashion. If not, we will deal with it.”
Lofquist asked the town board to look into installing a security system, with a call button for emergencies, instead of the existing surveillance system in the clerk’s office.
“The system right now is only spying on people,” she said, adding that the existing system could be moved to the fire hall as a deterrent for theft.
Spicer said she did not have an issue with the system in place.
“I don’t feel like I am being spied on,” she said.
Lofquist also questioned why the exterior door to the clerk’s office is being kept locked, noting the clerk does not always hear when the doorbell is sounded.
Spicer said the door is being locked for her security and also to insure that anyone entering is wearing a mask.
“The door was locked by the prior clerk with board approval,” said Ralston. “But I don’t have a problem with having that door open during office hours, and the clerk’s [interior office] door closed. People can knock if they need her.”
Spicer said she feels more secure with the door locked.
No action was taken on the issue.
Tower Ambulance Commission
The board also heard an update of the latest Tower Ambulance Commission meeting. DeLuca, who is the township’s representative on the commission, said the subsidy agreement still hasn’t been revised to the township’s satisfaction.
Drobac asked how much the township had paid their attorney to look over and make suggested revisions to the contract and wondered why the board hadn’t been asked to approve such spending.
“I was trying to protect Greenwood Township on this,” said DeLuca.
Greenwood has objected to the city’s previous use of ambulance department proceeds to fund non-ambulance projects. They are seeking to restrict the city’s ambulance fund so it can only be used for ambulance-related expenses.
“How much of our money did they take that was supposed to go to the fund?” asked Lofquist.
Resident Lee Peterson said the per capita subsidy payments from the townships are secure, but that the service fund is different.
“That’s the money the city made doing calls,” he said. Peterson said the ambulance replacement fund was never meant to be the sole provider of replacing ambulances, and that the city should have been using ambulance service proceeds for some of the costs.
“The missing money is kind of a lever,” said Peterson, “so we don’t end up with a problem in the future. The current council might not touch it, but how about a future council?”
Ralston said the township would hold out on the issue of requiring the city to create a separate ambulance service fund.
Peterson told the board the city was doing a new study on the ambulance service that should help stabilize the service in the future.
“The problem is when they went into the transfer business,” he said.
Peterson added that everyone wants a strong ambulance service.
“That is the goal,” Peterson said.
In other business, the board:
• Heard that the small discrepancy that had been found during the Board of Audit had been accounted for and was due to an interest payment not properly being recorded.
• Discussed clerk hours/wages. Drobac noted that the clerk salary recorded in the March financials was higher than the approved wage. Ralston responded that the position was still the “interim clerk” until after the election and was paid on an hourly basis. Ralston said the clerk needed additional time for training on the job.
“No one ever asked me to help train her,” said Drobac, who was the elected clerk until resigning late last summer. “I would have done that.”
Ralsaton told Drobac she wouldn’t give out the passwords to her computer when asked. Drobac told Ralston that the treasurer had asked for the password to the clerk’s computer, and that wasn’t permitted due to separation of duties.
Ralston said the established clerk salary of $1,392 per month would start in April.
• Heard that treasurer Belinda Fazio has appointed Tammy Mortaloni as deputy treasurer.
• Formed a committee to work on broadband issues. Lofquist will chair the committee and interested residents and summer residents will be invited to take part.
• Approved a resolution in support of the township’s Local Road Improvement Program grant request for improvements to the Birch Point Road Extension. Ralston said he is not sure if the LIRP request will be successful, but if not, the township can apply next year. The grant would pay to mill and repave the township road.
• Approved liquor licenses for Gruben’s, Vermilion Club, BayView Bar and Grill, Timbuktu, and Shamrock Landing.
• Amended the rules for town hall and pavilion rental to state that helium balloons are not permitted. Lofquist said they are bad for the environment and the lake. Spicer asked how the township would enforce the rule. The motion passed 3-2 with Paul Skubic, Drobac, and Lofquist voting in favor.