Support the Timberjay by making a donation.

Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Supervisors continue to wrangle over financial discrepancies

Jodi Summit
Posted 10/13/21

GREENWOOD TWP- Once again, the Greenwood Town Board spent much of their meeting on Tuesday reviewing the submitted financial reports. And, once again, town board members noted discrepancies between …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Supervisors continue to wrangle over financial discrepancies

Posted

GREENWOOD TWP- Once again, the Greenwood Town Board spent much of their meeting on Tuesday reviewing the submitted financial reports. And, once again, town board members noted discrepancies between the treasurer’s and clerk’s list of claims and disbursements.
At the Oct. 12 meeting, Supervisor Sue Drobac pointed out that the list of disbursements in the meeting packet had been prepared by the treasurer.
“This should be run by the clerk,” she said. “I talked about this last month.”
Comparing the claims list (bills to be paid) to the disbursements list (checks issued) is an oversight duty for the town board. And having the clerk entering the disbursement information allows the town board to compare the two lists, even though the treasurer is also entering that information, as she prepares checks to be printed.
At last month’s meeting Treasurer Belinda Fazio said she would work with Clerk Debby Spicer to get the issue “figured out.” But apparently, the board found, this had not happened.
Chairman Mike Ralston asked Clerk Debby Spicer if she was able to print out that report, which she agreed to do. But the report printed by Spicer did not match up with the treasurer’s list, being off by more than $10,000.
“I can’t approve the treasurer’s report with this discrepancy,” Drobac said. “They aren’t showing the same number of checks.”
Fazio said that a check written to the city of Tower for the ambulance subsidy had been set aside, and she hadn’t forwarded that info to the clerk to enter into her computer, but that accounted for only $6,700 of the difference. Spicer said there were other checks she hadn’t received information on.
The board tabled approval of the treasurer’s report and will review it again at their next meeting.
Drobac also noted that the slight discrepancy in supervisor salary checks had not been corrected, as well as the pay period dates on the checks. Drobac also asked, again, for a printout of actual amounts paid to each employee, not just a total amount.
“We need a report that gives us the person’s name and pay as has been done in the past,” she said. “This is where the checks and balances come in.”
Ralston wondered if this would expose personal information, and Fazio said that was possible.
Drobac said the list of names and their gross pay was public information.
“This is not an invasion of privacy,” said Supervisor Barb Lofquist.
Fazio said, “I will look at the reports and see what I can do for you.”
Salary information for public employees (state, federal, school district, township) is public information.
Drobac asked why she had not been given the information requested so she could try to have ADP, which is processing payroll for the township, make the needed corrections. Drobac earlier had said she had tried calling, but she was not successful, and the board had passed a motion to allow her to try to get the issue corrected.
“I am not comfortable giving you my password,” said Fazio, who then asked to see a copy of the motion in writing. Drobac noted the password could be changed after she used it.
“You could be there when I am talking to them,” Drobac said. “The checks are not right, the dates are not right. Why is that so hard to get changed?” Drobac first brought the issue to the board several months ago.
“I agree that the supervisor shouldn’t be in the payroll program,” said Ralston. “But the pay date and pay period issue is troubling. I agree with that.”
Spicer said she thought the issue had been corrected and would see when this month’s payroll checks are printed out.
The motion to approve payroll passed 3-2 with Drobac and Lofquist voting against.
Fire department
Drobac asked why she was unable to get a list of the township firefighters who had completed their Firefighter I and II training, along with those who hadn’t completed training. Township guidelines call for firefighters to complete those classes within five years of joining the department.
“The town board is the employer and supervisors are overseeing the department,” she said. “We should know who has the training.”
Fire department training officer Rick Worringer said the department is allowed to train its own members, “as long as we don’t ask them to do something they don’t know how to do.”
“Why does this have to be a secret?” asked Drobac.
“What is your end game?” asked Fire Chief Dave Fazio.
“I just want a list of who has it and who has finished it,” she said.
Fire department member Jeff Maus said most of the Standard Operating Guidelines for the department refer to the firefighter training.
Worringer said the department has “trouble getting and keeping people.”
“If someone doesn’t have Firefighter I and II, they can still be a valuable asset,” he said. “They can drive trucks, run hoses. It is my personal opinion that requirement should be removed.”
Worringer said the department members are not professional firefighters, but “everything we do we are trained to do. It is a dangerous job. But that doesn’t have anything to do with having the firefighter training.”
“He has answered the question,” said Ralston. “It is not necessary.”
Fazio asked for board approval to purchase a calibration unit for the fire department carbon monoxide detectors. Currently they need to get serviced twice a year, a task they get done in Hibbing, Fazio said, at no charge except the travel costs.
The calibration unit costs $2,195 and lasts two years, he said.
“It is expensive to have it on site, but it will save hassles before going out on a carbon monoxide call,” he said. “There are times our guys can’t get the carbon monoxide meters to work.”
The test units need to be calibrated before each use. They are used when responding to a call when a carbon monoxide detector has gone off.
“This is a safety issue,” said Lofquist.
A motion to purchase the new unit passed unanimously.
Dave Fazio said the department is looking into the idea of purchasing a boat that can be used for rescue work on Trout Lake, using the $10,000 donation received earlier this year.
“We had four calls there this year,” said Indihar, “and no way to get across. We have to wait for the St. Louis County Rescue Squad.”
“We want to dedicate the donation to something tangible,” he said.
Fazio said the department has not done any research yet on what type of boat is needed, or on where the boat would be stored.
Tower Ambulance
Resident Lee Peterson addressed the board about issues surrounding the Tower Ambulance Service. He said the ambulance commission should have questions on why billed amounts were being counted as actual income, as reported by Tower Acting Mayor Dave Setterberg at the council’s Oct. 11 meeting. He also said he disagreed with Setterberg’s statement that it wasn’t in the city’s best interest to have a forensic audit done, at an estimated cost of $20,000.
“A forensic audit would resolve that [possibility that ambulance funds were being used to cover other city expenses],” he said. Peterson also said he disagreed with findings in the EMSRB report and felt the township should have a discussion with Virginia Fire and Ambulance Chief Al Lewis about the possibility of forming a regional department, which could station an ambulance and personnel in this area.
“They are grasping at straws in Tower,” he said.
Ralston asked if it wouldn’t be better to begin talks with the Tower Ambulance Service first, and others agreed.
“Tower has done this so long,” said Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Indihar. “We should appreciate the service they have given to our community.”
Other business
In other business the board:
• Was asked why the email notification list for special meetings had not been used to notify the public of a special meeting held Oct. 5. “Over 100 people are on the notification list,” said Lofquist. Spicer said that task would take extra time and wondered if she would get “more pay.”
“I am not a secretary,” she said.
• A motion by Lofquist to have the township’s printer/fax/scanner moved back into the outer office area, so that other board members can use it to do township business, failed on a 2-3 vote, with Ralston, DeLuca, and Skubic voting against. The machine had recently been moved into the clerk’s office, which is kept locked. A smaller printer was put into the outer office, but it is harder to use, cannot be used to fax, and is more expensive for the township because it uses inkjet cartridges. Lofquist and Drobac have been working on compiling the hundreds of responses to the township’s broadband survey.
Responses to the survey have been overwhelmingly positive, said Lofquist. “I’d say that 95-percent are in favor of broadband. And some say they would spend more time up here.”
Though Spicer said “a lot of people say they don’t want it.”
Lofqust and Drobac said they had volunteered to do the work, so the clerk didn’t have to do it.
“We wanted to save you time,” said Lofquist.
• Approved purchasing six 20 mph speed limit signs for Birch Point Extension, and will ask St. Louis County to replace faded speed limit signs on Birch Point Rd.
• At a special meeting on Oct. 5, the board approved purchase of a township errors and omissions insurance policy for $12,144. The township’s former carrier had decided not to renew their policy, but the township was able to find another carrier before their old policy expired. The new policy is similar to the old one, though it costs about $500 more than last year.

Comments

3 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • Shaking my head

    Someone needs to talk to the clerk about what 'public service' means. Her refusal to do anything over and above the 'statutory duties' is a problem.

    Thursday, October 14 Report this

  • Sniper1980

    Love the weekly updates on greenwood townships sh*t show. Hilarious and I look forward to reading about it every week. Keep it coming!

    Thursday, October 14 Report this

  • jbassing@frontiernet.net

    This clown car just keeps rolling going from one screwup to the next. The last two meetings have been unavailable to access by teleconference, the last one because the clerk posted the wrong number in the newspaper and who know about Tuesday’s. Then at Tuesday’s meeting the Clerk and Treasurers financials were off by over 10,000 dollars in one month how in the hell can that happen? The payroll checks are still screwed up with no relief in sight. We have a small payroll with a relatively small budget it should be easy to account for the financials but when confronted with all these errors all the clerk say is “the county will fix it”.

    Moving on to the fire dept. There are two supervisors who seek some accountability from the fire dept and wanted to see the training records but have been blocked by the good old boys on the board. What should be public information and readily available to any member of the public especially township supervisors remains hidden. What is it exactly they have to hide? Things are smelling worse and worse in Greenwood.

    Thursday, October 14 Report this