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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Greenwood still wrangling over treasurer reports

Two new members for fire department and interim fire and EMS captains hired

Jodi Summit
Posted 5/15/24

GREENWOOD TWP- “We are going to zip right through here tonight,” said Greenwood Chair Lois Roskoski optimistically at the beginning of the May 14 town board meeting. And while the meeting …

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Greenwood still wrangling over treasurer reports

Two new members for fire department and interim fire and EMS captains hired


GREENWOOD TWP- “We are going to zip right through here tonight,” said Greenwood Chair Lois Roskoski optimistically at the beginning of the May 14 town board meeting. And while the meeting did not exactly zip along, the board did complete the agenda by 9 p.m., a slight improvement from the April meeting, which lasted more than three hours before members adjourned without completing their agenda.
Once again, the town hall was mostly full, with at least 40 in the audience when the meeting began. And once again, the normal regular financial business took longer than expected.
Treasurer Jeff Maus and Roskoski again sparred over the history of the township’s accounting, and financial reporting issues that have yet to be resolved with the changeover of the township clerk, and both brought up inaccuracies in the current recordkeeping.
Both Roskoski, who had been working with new clerk Debby Spicer, and Maus said they were having trouble getting data from each other.
Roskoski again requested changes to how the treasurer submits monthly reports to the board, as well as a budget-to-actual-spending report for the first quarter.
“You two came in,” Maus said, “and you had your own way of doing things.”
“We are off to a rocky start here,” said Maus. “We need to heal our communication. If you need something, call me and ask. Nobody talked to me about how the office had been running. This is something we have to work on.”
Maus said he wondered if Roskoski, whose previous experience was with the city of Virginia, was expecting the township treasurer to have the same duties as a city treasurer.
“The treasurer in a township doesn’t usually do planning,” he said. The duties of a township treasurer are outlined in state statute, and mainly involve receiving monies belonging to the township and paying it out only upon the lawful order of the town or its officers, along with preserving all financial records.
The treasurers report showed a total balance of township funds of $630,298 at the end of April. The motion to approve the treasurer’s report passed 4-1, with Supervisor Paul Skubic voting against.
Questions also came up on the claims for the month. Maus told Roskoski the past practice had always been to wait as long as possible to post the claims report, so that as many bills as possible are received and can be approved for payment at the monthly meetings.
Maus said he was doing reports the way he had for the past two years. But Roskoski said she wanted the information available as part of the meeting packet, so things like the claims could be reviewed before the meeting night.
“People have been signing claims right before the meeting for years,” Maus noted.
The motion to approve claims totaling $35,839.78 passed 3-2, with Roskoski and Skubic voting no. The claims included $26,025 to the city of Tower for the 2024 ambulance subsidy payment. Roskoski wanted to delay that payment because the ambulance subsidy agreement had only been approved by the Tower City Council the day before.

The town board approved a contract, drawn up by the township attorney, with the Lake Vermilion Pickleball Association, which outlines how the township will pay the $24,999 it has committed towards the project. Detailed plans for the court construction are in place. The pads for the court will go in at the same time the parking lot is resurfaced. And committee members are hopeful the fencing and the rest of the court work will be done by late fall.

Township Road 4136
Supervisor Rick Stoehr asked the board to have the township attorney work with the board to develop a process to let the township assess property owners along the road for the needed improvements, to bring the road up to a standard where St. Louis County would agree to provide plowing services.
Skubic said he didn’t think the township was “at that point yet.”
Roskoski said the township still hadn’t determined if the road should be blacktopped or turned back to gravel (a less expensive option).
The motion failed with only Stoehr voting in favor. Supervisor John Bassing abstained, since he owns property along the road.
Skubic said he had met with Mesabi Bituminous, which is resurfacing the parking lot, to review the potholes on Twp. Rd. 4136. The contractor gave an estimate of $4,250 to fill the potholes, which could be done at the same time they work on the parking lot. The board approved having the work done at the quoted cost.

Paved trail
The board approved an offer from Linda Smith to repaint and repair the sign along the Greenwood paved trail at no cost to the township.
The board took no action on the offer by Mesabi Bituminous to repair several sections of and resurface the entire paved trail for $75,000.
“Personally, I don’t think the trail is that bad now,” said Skubic, but he noted that the bad spots are not going to get any better over time. Currently, the township has $20,000 set aside for trail maintenance, by adding $2,000 a year to the fund. Resident Lee Peterson wondered if the township should start setting aside twice that amount to account for future repairs.

Fire Department
The board approved hiring two new department members, Dean and Tammy Dowden. Both are EMTs, but they will join the department as EMRs. Dean will also be a firefighter, having previously been a member of the Eagles Nest Fire Department.
The board also approved two new job descriptions for captain positions for both fire and EMS. This move will help with fire department succession, Maus noted, because the two will be trained to perform many management duties. The positions will be posted internally for 25 days. In the meantime, the board approved appointing Brian Trancheff as interim fire captain, and David DeJoode as the interim EMS captain. Pay for both positions has been initially set at $300 per month. Maus said the two have been performing the new job duties for the last few months.
The board also approved $1,191 for repairs to one of the engines on fire boat one, $380 to repair two propellors, and $4,046 (plus any travel costs) for repairs on fire engine one and tender three. Fire engine one needs new gauges installed. The board also approved spending some of the DNR grant dollars awarded last year on upgrading the lighting on fire boats one and two. The department received a $5,000 matching grant from the DNR last year. Funds have also been used for wildland firefighting equipment, and new helmets and goggles.

Other business
In other business, the town board:
• Approved hiring Mike Nystrom to video town board meetings at a cost of $145 per meeting. Roskoski said this would include transparency and accountability for the town board. Nystrom said the videos could be broadcast live on Facebook, or made available shortly after the meeting online. The board approved doing this through the end of the year on a 3-2 vote, with Stoehr and Bassing voting against, noting the cost.
• At the request of Bassing, the town board unanimously approved accepting the provisions of the state data practices act. This act automatically applies to cities and metro-area townships. Bassing noted this will help the township with some grant applications. “This sends a message that we are transparent,” Bassing said. “It shows we can provide information to people the same as a city.”
• Heard that Maus has appointed JoAnn Bassing as deputy treasurer, noting she had worked closely with him the last two years and understood the job duties.
• Heard a question from a resident about the progress of the broadband internet installation. Board member Craig Gilbert said he had talked to Randy Long, the project’s manager, who said they are hoping to have the project completed this summer. Maus said he talked with a crew doing the archeological survey, who said the survey was completed and now needed approval by the state, which would take about a month. The survey, which was required prior to digging new lines, delayed the project last year.
• Approved a request from Bassing to amend the April minutes to include Bassing’s reasoning for voting no on the pickleball donation.
• Approved the purchase of two additional security cameras from Perpich TV at a cost of $1,690 including installation. Bassing voted against the motion, noting the township needed a policy stating how this information is used, who has access, and other issues. The board also voted to resume operation of the existing four security cameras.
• Accepted the low quote from A-Z Property Management for lawn mowing services at a cost of $250 per mow.
 Approved purchasing a $75 ad sponsor package from the Tower News.