Special Meeting - April 24, 2013

Crow Wing Township held a special town meeting on Tuesday April 22, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. at the Crow Wing Town Hall. Present were Clerk Virginia Rogers and those on the attached roster.

Ginny called the meeting to order and the pledge to the flag was recited. She then made a brief statement concerning a letter recently received by many township residents to clarify that it was not written or approved by any town board members. The letter was sent from the Alliance of Concerned Citizens of Crow Wing Township. No names were included for contact other than the clerk’s and this had confused many residents as to who had actually sent this letter. The letter also did not have a return address and the alliance does not appear to be registered, so residents were unable to ascertain who had sent the letter and had no way to contact them to question the various accusations in the letter. A copy of the petition and signatures submitted to call this special meeting was attached to each letter. It was noted that there are questions and concerns about the letter, but that those should be saved for after the meeting.

Nominations were then received for moderator. Gerry Schuety nominated Carol Wermter and Monty Jensen nominated Zack Jackson. Paper ballots were handed out. Monty stated that he believed Carol had a conflict of interest and therefore should be disqualified from serving.  There seemed to be no grounds for this claim that would apply to the moderator position and so the vote went forward. Carol was elected to moderate the meeting  by a vote of 48 to 26.

Carol stated the purpose of the meeting, which was to vote on authorizing the town board to contract with certain health, social and recreational organizations for services. She then stated rules of conduct for the meeting which included comments being limited to one minute and one comment per person per organization request. Another meeting was scheduled to begin at 6:00 so the intent was to stay on track and keep things moving.

It was determined that a brief description of each non-profit would be given along with details of what the request was for, followed by the option for each person to make one comment if desired. If by a show of hands the vote appeared to be close a paper ballet would used to determine the outcome.

New Pathways assists homeless families and coordinates shelter at local churches, which provide food and shelter at no charge. They then help the families find employment, permanent housing and instruction in managing money and other practical training. They only ask for a contribution if they have helped a family from our township in the previously year, which is why they did not make a request the past couple of years. They had assisted one family from our township in 2012 at a cost of $1400. They asked for as much of that amount as the township deemed appropriate. Linda Schuety made a motion to authorize the town board to contribute. The motion was seconded by Marla Dillon.

Monty Jensen said that the petition to hold this meeting was not valid, that signatures had been forged and that he was personally paying $300 to have a handwriting analysis done. Carol pointed out that the topic at hand was New Pathways and that the petition was not an item that could be discussed.

Len Loukota stated that he agrees with the mission of New Pathways, but does not believe it is our place to fund it.

Shirley Brummer stated that she doesn’t like an organization taking money to give to someone else and does not want to see the township make any contribution of tax dollars to any organization.

Wendy DeBusk asked how much per person a donation of a certain amount works out to be. Carol stated that this was not really relevant at this time.

Monty Jensen stated contributing to these organizations would open the door for more to ask for funding and that the township needs money for roads and should not contribute.

Steve Hagen noted that it was voted on at the annual meeting not to give anything.

Alan Landeen stated that he feels that the township should be involved in land use and not donating to organizations.

Cal Boeder stated that he believes the township should support some of these organizations who help people who fall on hard times. He believes they desperately need help and it is our place to reach out to those in our community. He recommended giving up to 50% of what they are asking for.

Paul Stephany stated that he donates personally to one of the organizations on the list, but believes that using tax dollars is not right.

Tyson Block stated that these organizations provide a service to those less fortunate. He added that he has given to LAPS and others to help because he has had hard times himself and knows what it is like.

Steve Hagen stated that if we give to these organizations we could get asked for money from Planned Parenthood and others.

Zack Rogers stated that we are only discussing contributions for organizations that do a direct service for our township residents. We would not consider contributing to any that do not serve our township or that majority vote does not consider valuable.

Rick Buersken asked what the mission statement of the township states. Ginny noted that we do not have one as we are a government entity and our purpose is determined by statute. He believes that the township should have a mission statement.

Linda amended her motion to recommend an amount of $500 and Marla accepted the amendment.

Mike Sullivan stated that he wished to second the motion to give 50% but it was determined that that had not been a formal motion and another motion was on the floor.

Jason Rider stated that he believes donations should be done at a personal level.

A vote was taken with 37 yes votes and 39 no votes. No contribution to New Pathways will be allowed.

Lloyd Weise stated that he has not been in a meeting like this before, but suggested a budget so that we know if we have the money to give. It was noted that the money would come from the General Fund.

LAPS (Lakes Area Pregnancy Support Center) supports those who find themselves in a crisis pregnancies. The request was for assistance with funding the incentive program which teaches classes on infant CPR, newborn care, personal finance and other practical skills. Upon completion of each course the parent or parents receive credit toward a crib, car seat or other necessary item which they can then receive at no cost. Marla Dillon made a motion to contribute to LAPS. The motion was seconded by Jeff Rogers who suggested that we recommend $300. Marla accepted this amendment and added that she feels very strongly about LAPS because her daughter is currently receiving these services and has been treated with kindness by the volunteers there and received so much help that she feels they deserve something.  

Linda Schuety asked if LAPS supports partial birth abortion, which is one of the items mentioned in the letter that was mailed out. It was stated that they do not provide or refer for any sort of abortion.

Monty Jensen stated that LAPS is working in an area that is largely the personal responsibility of others and said that the township should not contribute.

Doug Kern suggested that the organizations be listed on our website so that people who choose to can give to them after this meeting.

A vote was taken with 34 yes votes and 44 no votes. LAPS will not receive a contribution this year.

Crisis Line is a 24 hour phone service to help those experiencing mental health issues, family problems, physical or emotional abuse, thoughts of suicide, etc.

Monty Jensen made a motion not to donate. The motion was seconded by Linda Schuety. The motion carried by a show of hands.

The County Fair Association requested our participation in helping with repair costs. This year’s project will be asphalt repair on the grounds. Cliff Carlson made a motion to donate. The motion was seconded by Ed Fox.

Monty Jensen stated they already charge for their services and should be operating like a business.  He believes that they should have better management and charge more for their booths. Bob Voss added that they also rent storage areas over the winter months. The motion failed by show of hands.

The American Legion School Safety Camp had asked for funding for a full or partial registration fee for a student to attend the camp. No motion was made.

Judy Wayt Memorial Flag Committee Secretary/Treasurer spoke on behalf of the group, which provides flags for veteran graves in Oakland Cemetery. They do not need money this year. The county cut off funding in 2009 and they had to seek funding from townships. They are now receiving money from other organizations, but thanked us for previous donations which helped them through that time.

The First Responders did not request a contribution this year, for the third year in a row. They would appreciate having an amount approved to be available again this year should it be needed, but do not anticipate that they would request it.

Marla Dillon made a motion to approve setting aside an amount for this purpose. The motion was seconded by Wendy DeBusk.

Monty Jensen said that we should not set aside anything because the First Responders should have a budget and know whether they will need the funding or not and added that it is poor management not to be certain. He also said that this is the Fort Ripley/St. Mathias First Responders, so there is no one in our township that does this and that we are closer to the hospital than the other townships, so should not contribute.

Mark Platta stated that the First Responders have saved the lives of people in our township. Ed Fox stated his wife had a massive heart attack and he believes that this service is necessary. Marla Dillon added that her son was in a serious accident and the First Responders reached him before the ambulance. Carol Krueger said that they had helped her as well.  Zack Rogers added that we have a First Responder living in our township and added that grants that have been applied for are not guaranteed, therefore having some additional funding available if they are cut is important. Brad Arnold added that our First Responders are very well trained and that they have managed their finances well. He also stated that he signed the petition for this meeting to give these organizations a chance to be heard.

Carol Krueger shared that as a diabetic, she has made a few different emergency calls and in each case, the First Responders were on the scene before the ambulance. She added that she might not be here today if not for them.

Darlene Strange mentioned that some retired people aren’t here in March and are unable to attend the annual meeting. Mark Platta noted that the annual meeting is set by state statute for the second Tuesday in March, so we must hold it on that date.

Rick Buersken stated that organizations should be writing for grants, not asking for donations. He said it would be absurd to give to organizations unless we know exactly how they use the money.

Linda Schuety asked how many consecutive years the township has given to at least some of the organizations who asked. The exact number was unknown, but it has been at least 25 years.

Susie Goodew, township treasurer had a report of previous donations going back several years which was reviewed.

A paper ballot was handed out and the result was 56 yes votes and 20 no votes. The Town Board is authorized to contribute to the First Responders if it is requested.

Judy Wayt made a motion to adjourn at 6:40 p.m. The motion was seconded by Skip Murray and passed unanimously.