GREENWOOD- Township officials were read the riot act, Tuesday, as the head attorney for the Minnesota Association of Township Insurance Trust program (MATIT) warned the board that they were in danger …
GREENWOOD- Township officials were read the riot act, Tuesday, as the head attorney for the Minnesota Association of Township Insurance Trust program (MATIT) warned the board that they were in danger of being dropped by the statewide insurance carrier.
“We are concerned,” he told the board, “and have had discussions within MATIT about whether or not to reinsure.”
He noted that this was the “first and only” time that MATIT has considered dropping a township.
He warned the board that while there were other insurance options out there, with the township’s claim history, they might not be happy with their premiums.
“Our coverage tends to be better than any other I have seen,” he said.
Hedtke said that Greenwood’s claim history over the past 10 years has included between 16-18 errors and omissions claims.
“This is far more than any other township,” he said. He noted the last set of three to four claims seemed to stem directly from internal fighting within the township.
MATIT sent an investigator up to the township, this spring, to interview township officials and assess future liability.
“She identified a number of potential lawsuits the township may be looking at in the future,” he said, “plus some others outside of the township.”
“We are concerned,” he said, with emphasis.
Hedtke noted that Greenwood’s contentious nature seemed to date back at least 10 years.
Hedtke had questions for board members relating to specific actions and issues that sprang from the March 18 incidents with the turnover of the clerk’s office. He said that from a legal aspect, Supervisors Carmen DeLuca and John Bassing had a conflict of interest in approving the payment of the bill to the locksmith, because the two had acted to hire the locksmith without board authorization. He added that because the vote to pay the bill was unanimous, the conflict was a moot point. He also questioned why the township had yet to approve payment on an attorney bill relating to that issue.
Supervisor Bassing addressed some of Hedtke’s concerns, but Hedtke countered that “from the outside, it looks like you are prolonging the fight.”
The attorney also asked the board to keep better meeting minutes, recording not just the motion and vote, but also the rationale and summary of discussion relating to major actions of the board, such as the decision to turn planning and zoning back to St. Louis County. He noted that the township clerk was new to the job, and that there is a “steep learning curve.”
Hedtke also said he was not in favor of the board allowing public input throughout the entire meeting, not just as a specific agenda item.
“This is a board meeting,” he said, “not a public meeting.”
He noted that many of the comments being made at the meeting were not proper board business, singling out comments made by fire department member Jeff Maus, and former clerk Ellen Trancheff.
Bassing, who had just been elected as board chair at the start of the meeting, noted the township’s policy did allow public comment once a motion had been put on the floor.
Hedtke said limited public input during the actual board business would reduce the infighting.
“Are you not interested in that?” he asked.
He told the board they needed more training in several areas, including the open meeting law, employee management, and conflict management.
“What I am telling you,” Hedtke said, “is that you are on thin ice. I would encourage you to see what is at stake.”
Hedtke remained through the end of the meeting, which lasted until almost 10 p.m., to hold some one-on-one discussions with township officials and answer any other questions.