I sat at a township meeting Tuesday night Nov. 13th at Highland School. The people of Crookston Township had a vote to get rid of the road grader, tractor and mower. The vote was 53 yes, 18 no and 3 abstain meaning to get rid of the equipment and hire out the the grading and mowing. Well how about that, the people spoke, we want to get rid of it.
So a little background on how we got here!
Back in March at our annual meeting, I went and complained about how rough our roads were. It just so happened I drove a school bus route a few days ahead of the meeting in March. This particular road was up by where Melvin Larson lived. There's about five families that live on that road. I thought that the bus was going to shake apart. So I went and complained at the township meeting. They (township board) said the roads were in great shape.
So needless to say there was quite a discussion about our roads. There were a few people at the meeting that agreed with me about the roads.
So a few days later I asked for a year end report. In that report I was looking through what the grading was costing and what the mowing will and added it all up. It came up to $49,000-$50,000 for everything. This included wages fuel, electric for the building, SS cutting edges and anything to do with the grader and mower. Well the next thing you do is figure out how many miles. You get a lot of discussion on that, figure to 30-40 miles.
Someplace in there nobody can really come down to exact figures on the miles. So then you have to figure out after $49,000-$50,000 how much are for the grader and how much are for mowing, then you get to figure out per mile. Not really so easy to do, but the people that looked at it were very fair. So we went to the township meetings once a month and tried to get the board to do something.
Well here we are in November and nothing has been done. So the board hired a lawyer. In short, the lawyer said the board doesn't have to listen to the people, but it would be in their best interest to listen to the people. The board has the authority to do what they want.
It has been a very frustrating summer going to township meetings where nothing gets done. "We will look into it," is a great answer from the board.
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Over the last 20 years there have been complaints from residents on plowing snow and grading. The people that complained said nothing really was done to fix it. I realize you can't make everybody happy. I've been accused that I want his job. I used to have it before him, and I let it go to move on to other things.
Sue Reitmeier is chair on the board, so you have a husband and wife. It seems there would be a conflict of interest here. You decide. Just because you sign affidavits or a lawyer says it's OK, it doesn't really change the appearance or intent that is there.
So back to the meeting on Tuesday. After the vote passed the board thought they should ask for another vote at the annual meeting in March to get more people involved. Really? And what happens when that vote doesn't go their way? Another meeting? Another vote? When does it end?
We need some changes on the board. It seems to me that if we got rid of the grader and mower and bid it out, the conflict of interest would go away. The cost of owning our own grader has just gotten way out of hand.
After some of us looked into the expenses of grading and mowing we tried to get the board to look into it for themselves. As far as I know they never did. Why not? More conflicts of interest?
I have heard rumors that our group will be sued by some if we keep up the pressure. Really? For trying to do the right thing? I don't care who's running the grader. If it is too expensive you have to change it or at least try to change it. But it's really hard for some to accept change.
I always thought the board did what the people wanted, not what they wanted. We elected them, so I guess we need to elect new board members. Maybe the terms are too long. If shorter terms is what we need to get more people involved and make sure this doesn't happen in the future, then we should consider it.
Some board members say they don't have time, so I ask them why are they on the board. Please get off so people that do have the time will work for the people.
I also think we get in that place when you're on any board and it becomes a good-old-boys club. They're all friends and nobody thinks for themselves. We don't need that club anymore.
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This never was a vendetta against the board. We're not mad at the board, it's just that nothing ever gets done.
I haven't been to many meetings before the March meeting in 2011. I was at a meeting back in 2004 and complained about work not getting done then, either. I think some of the blame should fall on me for not being involved in our township. I'm involved now, plus a lot of other people. We need common sense on the board, which means no more husband and wife working together. When that changes we will all be better off.
Mr. Qualley said at a meeting that there's hard feelings and we didn't give them time to look into things. Mr. Qualley, we have given you time, since 2004, when I complained.
I hope more people decide to get involved and come to the meetings in the next couple of months and also to the annual meeting in March; changes are needed.