Minutes for Regular Board Meeting of March 7, 2016
Present: Supervisors, Tina McKeever, Roger McKeever, Bruce Martinson; Clerk, Doug Schwecke; Treasurer, Alicia Kangas; Fire Chief, Phil Bonin; Asst. Clerk Gale Ring, and residents of Schroeder.
The meeting was called to order by T. McKeever at 7:00PM.
B.Martinson moved to approve the agenda with the addition of Storefront Loan Program, public comments and Treasurer’s letter to the Board, under Other Business. R. McKeever seconded. Motion carried.
Chair T. McKeever called for public comments. In order to facilitate a more orderly meeting she said we were again going to start following a policy adopted in September, 1997, whereby public comments would be limited to 10-15 minutes at the beginning of the meeting. After that time public input would be limited to the Supervisors asking for specific information. Charlie Muggley commented on some misinformation in the paper about the last meeting.
The minutes of Feb. 9, 2016 were presented for approval. Treasurer Kangas had some questions on approval of the check for Birch Grove School. The legality and history of the approval process was discussed. An email on this issue will be discussed later in the meeting. A. Kangas said she had reservations about this check and was only signing it on authorization of the Supervisors. B. Martinson moved to approve the minutes of Feb. 9, 2016 as presented. R. McKeever seconded. Minutes approved. R. McKeever moved to approve the minutes from the Board of Audit of Feb. 9, 2016 as presented. B. Martinson seconded. Motion carried.
Treasurer’s Report: Receipts for Feb. totaled $84.71. Disbursements totaled $5,966.71. The ending checkbook balance as of Feb. 29, 2016 was $63,694.60. Transfers were made to bring the fund balances up to the budget balances approved last month. B. Martinson moved to approve the treasurer’s report. T. McKeever seconded. Motion carried.
B. Martinson moved to approve checks #3730-3748 in the amount of $26,464.25. R. McKeever seconded. Motion carried.
Lodging tax debit slip in the amount of $1,245.20 was approved and signed.
Commissioner Storlie: not present
Fire and Rescue: Phil reported that there were no calls last month. The attendance at meeting has been very good. They will be ordering some shelving for the fire hall. 2 new LED lights have been installed and the lighting is good. Still working on Fire Relief paperwork and looking at switching to PERA administration at the beginning of 2017. Clerk was asked to research how much the Township has contributed in the past.
Road and Bridge: Rick Anderson reported on the committee recommendations handout for the Annual meeting. Policy on approval to expend funds was brought up and tabled to the April meeting.
Cemetery: The mowing contract was discussed. It was decided to keep the current contract for this year and open for bids in 2017. Proposed changes to the cemetery rules were discussed and will be presented at the annual meeting for input. The Board will act on this in April.
Recreation: B. Martinson said he would replace the chains on the swing set this summer. Work on the ball park fence will be discussed in April.
Maintenance: Improvements to the town hall area were discussed. Ideas brought up included painting the steps, replacing the railings, improved signage for the Town Hall and Fire Hall, adding benches, walking paths, and other uses for the ball park. Gale Ring will apply for a grant from Moving Matters to help cover costs. This will be discussed further in April. R. McKeever mentioned he might be able to get 4’or 8’ LED light bulbs to replace some florescence bulbs at a reduced price. T. McKeever moved to authorize spending up to $500 on 4’ or 8’ LED bulbs. B. Martinson seconded. Motion carried.
Other Business: We will hold a Board of Appeals & Equalization on April 12, 2016, at 6 PM. We have received an inquiry about an application for the Storefront Loan program. Currently money is only to be used for storefront improvements. B. Martinson will present the proposed changes at the Annual meeting and ask for input. The changes then need to be made by the Board and approved by IRRRB. The survey on requests for support, asking for input from the registered voters in Schroeder Twp., was brought up. B. Martinson shared an email he received from Jeff Reed, State Auditor’s Office. It stated that we do not have the authority to expend funds to conduct a survey. It was decided to not send a survey. He would also be sending a letter to the area Townships concerning request for support. Public comments on changes to Schroeder Land Use Plan are due May 6. The agenda for the Annual meeting was finalized. Alicia Kangas read a letter from her to the Supervisors (copy attached) concerning actions on requests for support. B. Martinson stated that since his wife now teaches at Birch Grove School he will abstain from voting on anything relating to Birch Grove School. R. McKeever moved to hold the check to Birch Grove School for $10,000 until we receive the letter from the State Auditor’s Office. T. McKeever seconded. Motion carried.
Correspondence: Sent– Indebtedness report
Received- Indebtedness report, MAT spring short courses, variance request from Carla Menssen, soil composting (4)
B. Martinson moved to adjourn. R. McKeever seconded. Motion carried. Adjourned at 9:34 PM.
Doug Schwecke, Clerk
March 7, 2016
To the Board of Supervisors, Schroeder Township MN:
Upon reviewing the monthly township meeting minutes, I have belatedly noticed that most of the questions and comments I have made at many of the board meetings regarding township donations to various organizations have been omitted. As you all know, I have often questioned the lack of procedure and policy and due diligence in distributing donation monies since I was elected to the treasurer’s office in 2011. Other citizens of Schroeder have also expressed their concerns regarding this matter, and these were seldom recorded or entirely omitted. The board of supervisors rebuffed my questions by telling me that township government is a democracy, and that the board was obligated to allow the citizens to vote, and that the board was subsequently obligated to acquiesce to the will of the majority. It is a matter of record that the checks to various donation applicants were cut almost immediately and sent out. To my knowledge, the board had never shown or documented due diligence in researching whether the donations expenditures were legal, necessary, or even advisable.
At the December, 2014 board meeting, I brought an article from the MAT publication indicating that the board was not properly disbursing public funds for donations and legal questions arose. I urged the board to withhold donations until proper procedure was researched, legal implications were clarified, and a donation policy developed.
However, at the March, 2015 annual town meeting, the citizens, after much arguing, rancor, and acrimonious discussion, were again improperly allowed to vote on the donation issue. All through 2015, and even into 2016 board members met in closed meetings with the charter school applicants, a MAT attorney, and other area townships’ supervisors with the admitted purpose to “make it happen”. The board also permitted another applicant to attend 3 or more monthly board meetings to harangue the board into giving them money, (even after the board passed a resolution denying the request), and after which the board reversed their resolution and donated the money.
Meeting after meeting, I, and other citizens have questioned the board about how the donations are handled and the endless hours of browbeating for money that all who attended annual and monthly meetings endured, and unfortunately, it was not until now that I have realized the omission of some crucial issues raised in these discussions in some of the board meeting minutes.
Therefore, I am documenting my comments in this letter, which I submit to be attached to the minutes of the board meeting of March 7, 2016:
- Since 2011, I have questioned the board’s decisions to allow the citizens’ vote (which is not proper procedure) on donations to be binding, and the board’s immediate pay-out without due diligence to determine statutory authority, and without a policy in place.
- I, and other citizens, have at several board meetings inquired and cautioned the board about the exorbitant amount of money expended on these unvetted donations.
- On many occasions, at regular board meetings and at annual meetings, I (and other citizens) objected to taxes levied in order to meet township budget needs after thousands of dollars were given away as donations. In the March 7, 2011 regular board meeting and at the March 8, 2011 annual meeting, donations were actually included in the tax levy, without determining the statutory eligibility or the financial status of the applicants.
I have spoken with Mr. Jeff Reed of the MN State Auditor’s Office, and Mr. Steve Fenske, MAT attorney, and both indicated that the matter of the charter school donation (support, contribution) is under advisement in court, and remains so as I write this letter. Yet, in February 2016, a board member met again with the charter school representatives, and at the February 9, 2016 board meeting presented a completely prepared resolution to give the charter school $10,000.00 in March 2016, and $10,000.00 in June, 2016. The board passed the resolution unanimously with almost no discussion. Several citizens have expressed concern to me that this action was quite sudden, premature and imprudent. When I discussed this with MAT attorney Mr. Fenske, he stated that though it may be found to be legal at some point, this action is a bad idea, as the charter school’s financial status is not a direct township government concern. I am informing the board of this now and documenting it here.
The board’s decisions and actions are their own responsibility. I assume they are aware of the personal liability risk involved each time they approve contributions (donations, support) from the township treasury to organizations outside of the actual governance of the township and whose statutory eligibility remains unknown.
I have here documented some of the concerns and questions regarding donations that I have brought to the board over my 5-year tenure as treasurer.
Schroeder Township Treasurer