Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Shawn Jansen
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Windemere debates road maintenance report

 


Windemere Township Treasurer Ron Mossberg attempted twice to give a report he prepared comparing road maintenance in-house operations to contracting out road work, during the regular Windemere Township meeting on May 9, but was stopped by the board of supervisors.

When he presented it as part two of his regular treasurer’s report, Chair John Wesely asked him to hold off, saying he thought it was something the supervisors should have an opportunity to look at prior to it being presented to the public in a meeting.

“I’m not sure that this is the time or place,” said Wesely.

“It’s very important to the decision you’re going to make in union negotiations,” said Mossberg. The general road work in Windemere Township is performed by union employees, Road Maintenance Supervisor Mike Buetow and two assistants.

Supervisor Pete Steen said, “We haven’t seen this information so you’re springing it on us,” and suggested that it be reviewed in the strategy meeting for union negotiations to be scheduled that night.

Mossberg said he has attempted to present the information previously. “I’m very disappointed ... it applies to more than just one category,” said Mossberg. Mossberg said he sent the information last year.

“The townspeople elected me to keep an eye on the treasury, and I’d like to report to them what I’ve found,” said Mossberg.

Wesely said the information would be discussed at the closed union negotiations strategy meeting. That meeting has since been set for Thursday, May 16, at 5:15 p.m. at the town hall.

Mossberg wanted to know when the information would be made public, and Wesely said it could be brought to another meeting but it had to be discussed and evaluated first by the board.

Later in other business, Mossberg tried again to give his report but was denied the opportunity.

During the public forum, residents spoke in favor of and against hearing Mossberg’s report, with applause on both sides.

“Everybody runs on transparency ... This is the citizens’ money,” said resident Paul Horgen.

Resident John Menke said, “Civility is something we strive for ... I was taught you don’t surprise elected officials. They review the stuff, and then it becomes public.”

“I support the board. It’s my money, too,” said resident Gerald Firkus.

Resident Tom Albrecht said, “The contract is not negotiated on the floor ... We do not tie their hands.” He said, “Do we want contractors doing this work?” speaking to how convenient and economical it is to have someone local take care of unexpected concerns without upcharges.

Dennis Genereau, Carlton County Coordinator, spoke of his experience in contract negotiations. He acknowledged that, while Minnesota Association of Townships guidelines are often hazy, everybody needs to appreciate that the treasurer is trying to be transparent, while the board is trying to protect itself when it comes to union negotiations. He suggested caution and perhaps the board use a good labor law attorney “to be squared away from a legal standpoint.”

 

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