Minutes: December 8, 2020 Regular Board Meeting
Presented for approval at the January 12, 2021 Board Meeting
December meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm by Michelle Meis with the Pledge of Allegiance. Supervisors present included, Brandon Mell, Betsy Rising and John Paitl. Clerk Stan Iskierka, Treasurer Mary Dillner and Deputy Clerk Kelli Storck were also present.
Agenda (Additions or Changes)
- Boxwood – Add to New Business B (See Road Committee)
- Retirement – Add to New Business C
Motion by Paitl seconded by Rising to approve Agenda. Approved.
- Questions/Discussion – Katie Murray, who is a representative from CenturyLink was at the meeting to discuss and answer questions in regards to Broadband. Below is a summary of what was discussed:
1. Lack of communication and/or consistent communication. Katie explained that after hearing from some Board members in regards to lack of communication, that CenturyLink sent out a letter to residents that contained phone numbers and emails of who they should contact to set up service or to have the questions answered. Unfortunately, some residents received the letter after CenturyLink was in their area working and also, door hangers were not put onto resident’s doors like Katie said should have happened. Katie will compare lists to make sure that the list of eligible addresses matches the list of addresses of the letters that were sent out.
2. As each build area becomes ready, CenturyLink will send invitations to the residents within that area who are able to set up service. The next area to turn up will be around January 4, 2021. Residents within that terminal will begin to be notified by the end of December 2020 and the list will also be sent to the clerk to be posted on the Nessel Township website.
3. Due to frost, most lines will not be buried until the frost is gone. If service has already been ordered and fiber lines were crossing a driveway or ditch, they were requesting as many as possible of these lines buried before the frost. The contractor stop date was December 5, 2020.
4. There are multiple contractors installing the fiber.
5. Installation issues were caused by the installation technicians being overbooked. CenturyLink made adjustments on their end to prevent this from happening in the future.
6. Line drops to the residences will be free if orders are placed prior to June 2022.
7. CenturyLink will send a postcard in the fall of 2021 to the residences that are not signed up to make sure they know that they are now able to have broadband lines brought to their residence. The Township will also post this list on the Township website.
8. Once Nessel Board receives the list of the addresses of the residences that will be eligible for service in January 2021, the clerk will have the website updated and it will be under a different list than the previous list of addresses that are now eligible for service to be brought to their home.
9. CenturyLink has been in contact with Shorewood as far as having service brought into the Shorewood Development. Katie is not sure of the status, but thought any build would happen in April or May 2021. Easements were and are still under discussion.
10. Mell mentioned at the beginning of the project, the Township was asked if they had a permitting process for utilities to be installed in the ROW. At that time, we said that we did not have a process. We did not require to see a set of plans/drawings, but now that they are there, there are some of them that are obviously in a bad location for road maintenance. Mell asked who is the manager for the Infrastructure, maintenance activity. Katie stated that the Engineer is Shawn Sandburg. His email is: [email protected]. The contact person for current installation and repair is Supervisor, Mark Galles, [email protected].
11. The Road Committee, along with our contractor will take a road tour and make note of the equipment (fiber pedestals) placement that need to be moved and also, the placement or lack of placement of reflective snow marking rods. They will get this information to Katie to pass along to Shawn Schommer, Construction Implementation Manger, so that it can get taken care of.
12. Iskierka stated that he gets emails from Telcomconstruction.com on the line placement from the pedestal to the home and he either gives the ok or denies it for reasons of, being too close to the road or other reasons. Katie thought these were only sent for approval if they crossed a public roadway or walkway. She took the information and will check on it.
13. ROW Management Ordinance – Per Attorney Couri, if you want the authority to regulate utility companies using the Township’s roads, you need to have an ordinance. See Statutes, Chapter 164.
14. Attorney Couri stated that the Township can create an ordinance managing the Township’s road right-of-way. An engineer should be looking at the plans, not the Town Clerk. The utility company has to apply to for and obtain a permit to install utilities within the Township’s road right-of-way. Attorney Couri will send an ordinance and summary. This ordinance was developed by the League of Minnesota, which his office has adapted for Townships. He suggests that we implement this for now and for the future. When a utility company comes in, they have to apply for a permit to use our roads, and they have to submit information through an application identifying specifically what they are going to do. The Township hires an engineer to look at the plans and the Township charges that cost back to the utility company. So, for the Township, there is no cost. The Town Engineer looks at the plans and advises the utility company where they may install their utilities within the road right-of-way, etc. Anytime someone is doing work on the Township roads, we would give a copy of the ordinance and let them know they have to abide by it and also give them our Township Engineer’s information. Per Attorney Couri, we need to approve both the ordinance and the summary, but only have to publish the summary.
15. Meis will send Katie her address so that she can check as to why she did not receive the letter from CenturyLink and issues with getting installation. Paitl will email her as well in regards to his existing copper line being cut as they were installing the new fiber lines. Paitl stated that his line was repaired but was not buried. He was told he will be getting service soon, but he has not heard anything. Mell will try to get service set up for his residence and also for his business which is on the same property. If he has issues, he will contact Katie.
Katie will check on why some lines were trenched across driveways rather than boring them.
16. Who to contact: CenturyLink has set up a special team for the Nessel Township project. Please call 1-800-469-1337 to place a reservation, order service (if fiber is available), or to add your name if you are interested in being contacted when your address is ready. These agents are ready to talk to you about the new fiber services coming to Nessel Township, and will work with you to check availability and reach out to you as soon as orders can be placed. Once your address is ready for service, you can place a new order through www.centurylink.com/twincitiesfiber or call 1-800-469-1337 to upgrade your service from copper to fiber. If you do not see an offer for Gigabit Fiber on this website, then your address is not currently eligible yet. If you experience any issues with this process, please contact us with details and we will investigate and respond quickly to your inquiry. Contact:
Katie Murray [email protected]
Jessica Cramer [email protected]
Conflict of Interest
- Supervisors Having Direct Financial Interest – Attorney Mike Couri was at the meeting to discuss conflict of interest regarding a supervisor who has a direct financial interest with the Township. Minnesota Statutes 471.87; 471.88 and 471.89, prohibits supervisors from having a direct financial interest in what the board votes on. A supervisor cannot be a supervisor and a contractor of the Township if the contract was subject to the sealed bidding requirements of the Municipal Contracting Law. However, Mr. Couri informed the Board that there are exceptions for those contracts where the sealed bidding procedures do not apply, generally contracts with an estimated value of less than $175,000. John Sutcliffe was elected as a Nessel Township Supervisor at the November 3, 2020 elections. John Sutcliffe is also the owner of MuddyGapHollow which is the Township’s contractor. Being that the contract has a value over $175,000 and is subject to the bidding requirements, he cannot be on the Board as a Supervisor unless he steps down from being the Township’s contractor or if the road maintenance contract is revised by the Township so that its estimated value is under $175,000 and sealed bidding are not required. Sutcliffe will inform the Board at the January 2021 meeting as to his decision.
- Bidding of Contractors -The Township must publish for bids if the work performed is estimated to be over $175,000 a year. The Board does not have to take the lowest bid, but they must have a very good reason for not taking it. The Board can ask for bids one year or multiple years or can also ask for a set number of years with an option to extend the contract. Once a bid is accepted, it cannot be re-negotiated.
- Quotes to Purchase/Service – Attorney Couri advised the Board that if they were to purchase an item or need a service and the cost will be between $25,000-$175,000, then they have to get at least two quotes for the Township’s files. The Township is not obligated to go with the lowest quote.
- Resolution and Affidavit – If a supervisor wants to be a contractor for the Township, a resolution has to be made and unanimously approved by the Board with the interested Supervisor abstaining. This should be done every year. So, if a Board member wants to do work for the Township, i.e., cut down a tree, then there has to be a resolution to approve this action if the Supervisor expects to be paid for his or her services.
- Open Seat – If Sutcliffe gives the Board a letter declining the Supervisor position, then the Board will declare a vacancy which can be filled by an appointment committee made up of the Town Clerk and remaining Supervisors. The Board and the Clerk (the only time a clerk can vote) can vote on appointing someone to the open seat. It is a majority vote. Even though the open seat would normally expire in 2025, the new Supervisor will serve until the next election in 2022. Because it is an interim appointment, it will be on the 2022 ballot and that elected person will hold the position until the 2024 election, at which time the open seat will be back to the normal 4-year term position. The Board decided they would try to find people who are interested in interviewing for the possible open Supervisor seat and it will be discussed further at the January meeting after Sutcliffe determines what he is going to do.
- ROW Ordinance – See above under “CenturyLink” for this information
Motion by Mell seconded by Rising to approve the November Minutes. Approved.
Motion by Paitl seconded by Mell to approve the Treasurer’s Report. Approved.
- Estimated Bills – Dillner asked for permission to write out blank checks for the “estimated” bills and they will be sent once the invoice is received. The Board gave approval. Braham Fire Department is on the list of bills, but will not be written until the contract is approved.
Motion by Paitl seconded by Rising to approve paying bills. Approved.
- Graded roads
- Plowed snow from roads
- Salted tar roads
- Chip-salted slippery roads
- Put up 911 signs where posts were already installed
- Approval given to grade and ditch mow
- Boxwood Avenue – Iskierka presented some informational only information in regards to discrepancies to the lot lines with a couple of residents. The issues also encroach onto the Township Turn-around area.
- ROW 507th –A previous variance was given to build a garage with the stipulation that no parking was to be allowed in the driveway which is in the Township ROW. The driveway was recently paved and is in the Township ROW. Rising will draft a letter and give it to Meis to mail to the address that was provided. (1508 507th Street).
- Proposed Budget – A proposed 2022 budget was distributed to the Board to review and to make recommendations for changes. Some suggestions to discuss are blacktop road improvements. FYI: Some of the road projects did not get completed in 2020, so this will be taken into consideration in the road budget planning. The Board will re-evaluate the cost of chloriding and will discuss the chloride program at the January meeting. In Equipment Maintenance & Repairs, the Budget Committee included cost of $15,000 to update the Township Hall floors, but this money will be reallocated to the blacktop fund.
- 5-Year Road Maintenance Plan – The road committee will put a 5-year budget plan together for pavement maintenance/blacktop/sealing and improvements. They will refer to the chart that Mell created. They will then present the plan with new budget numbers and present it at the January meeting.
- Braham Fire Contract – Mell had some discussions with the Braham Administrator in regards to how much the Township is paying for the fire contract. The administrator reviewed the Townships previous notes regarding the contract. She then re-wrote the numbers for the 2021 contract which is $12,059.41 plus the truck payment for a total of $15,278.07. They were charging us for the full taxable value of the Township, but they are only allowed to tax the taxable value of the sections that they serve.
Motion by Mell seconded by Rising to approve, accept and sign the City of Braham Fire Contract with the 2021 total of $15,278.07. Approved.
- Garage Break-In – Rising will check on the status of the steel roof supplies. Still waiting on the estimate from the insurance company in regards to the truck replacement.
- Corona Virus Relief funding (CRF) – $8,377.38 was left over from the funding and was sent back to the County.
- Snowplowing Policy – Line item “E” was added to the policy under “Procedures” and was distributed to the Board.
- Security Cameras/Signs – A security camera and two security signs were ordered. The two signs will be posted at the two driveways into the Township Hall and the camera will be mounted in a to-be-determined spot.
- Broadband Funds –Ehlers is re-investing the funds for the Township.
- Fish House located in turn-around-Beech – The fish house on Beech Avenue that was in the turn-around was removed by the resident.
- Hall Rental – The MN Association of Townships suggested that Township Halls not be rented out at this time. The Board asked for Storck to reach out to RLIA and mention to them that their meetings should comply with the Governor’s orders.
- Oaths – Michelle Meis and Betsy Rising were sworn in as Board Supervisors. They were both re-elected in the November 2020 Election.
- Retirement/Resignation – Clerk Stan Iskierka turned in his letter of resignation. Deputy Clerk Storck turned in her letter of resignation as well because you cannot have a Deputy Clerk without a Clerk.
Motion by Rising seconded by Mell to approve Iskierka and Storck’s resignation letters. Approved.
- Appointing of Township Clerk – Kelli Storck was sworn in as the Clerk for Nessel Township (Storck is replacing Iskierka as authorized signer on all Unity Bank accounts). The hiring of a Deputy Clerk will be put on hold until it is decided in the future if this position needs to be filled or not.
Motion by Mell seconded by Rising to approve Storck as the Township Clerk. Approved.
- Audit Meeting – The audit meeting will be held at 6:30 on January 12, 2021 at Nessel Township Hall to audit the financial statements for the year 2020. The regular Board meeting will follow.
Motion by Paitl seconded by Mell to Adjourn at 10:19 pm. Approved.