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No comment Rib Lake board removes public comment from meetings

On a voice vote (Jack Buksa voting no), the Rib Lake Village Board approved removing the citizen comment portion from the agenda and adopted a different procedure for dealing with citizen comments.

Village president Bill Schreiner told the board he was “really sick and tired of the lies and insults” that have been occurring during citizen comments. He said he contacted officials with Athens, Stetsonville, city of Medford, Taylor County, Gilman, Westboro and Prentice. Schreiner said most have citizens comment on their agenda, but that no one attends the meetings to make comments.

“Athens doesn’t have citizen comments, but they said anyone who is recognized by a board member, which means the citizen can approach a board member who would like to discuss something with the council,” Schreiner said. “The trustee or board member brings it up in front of the board, presents the citizen, and with the majority vote, they let him speak.” Schreiner added he spoke with Taylor County Board chairman Jim Metz and that the county does the same thing.

Schreiner said Westboro has had problems with citizen comments in the past and that Prentice did have to sus- pend citizens comments for a short time several years ago because they were having problems with comments by people at the meeting.

Schreiner finished up by saying if the board would follow the procedure Athens and the county uses, it would not suddenly prevent someone from bringing an issue to the board that was positive and helpful for the village and would be the direction for the board to take.

“I think that’s a better way to go,” agreed trustee Vernell Van Hecker.

“So you’re saying if someone wants to speak at the meeting, they would just approach one of the board members and ask them if they could speak?” asked trustee Russ Bullis.

“Yes,” said Schreiner.”The board member would bring the topic up to the board and if it was agreed by the majority, let them speak.”

“So if a board member brings it to the meeting, the rest of the board members will vote on whether it is going to be discussed or not,” said Van Hecker.

“Yes,” Schreiner said.

“It does not have to be on the agenda?” asked trustee George Tesch.

‘No,” Schreiner said.

“But wouldn’t the board want to put it on the agenda?” asked village clerk Dawn Swenson.

“It wouldn’t be on the agenda, but the discussion could be made to put it on the next month’s agenda,” Schreiner replied.

In other action: The board approved a proposal from Municipal Well & Pump of Waupun for the inspection of the village’s two wells.

Public Works director Tom Olson said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requires the pumps to be pulled from the well and inspected every 10 or 15 years. He said Well No. 2 is at the point and the DNR can’t find any paperwork to show when Well No. 1 was last inspected. Olson said if the board approved the proposal, Municipal Well would pull and inspect the pump from Well No. 1, send a video camera down the well to inspect the casing and well screen, and put the well back in service before inspecting the other well. The village would always have one well in service during the inspection process. The cost for the inspections would be $8,680 for each well.

The board also approved a 10-year service agreement with KLM Engineering of Woodbury, Minn. for inspection services on the village’s water tower. Cost of the services is $18,300, spread out over annual payments of $1,830.

The board approved a resolution amending the 2020 budget to re-allocate $280,276 in carry-over funds from last year’s budget.

The resolution called for re-allocated the funds as follows: Under General Government, $4,000 for attorney fees, $5,000 for elections and $4,961 for the ambulance facility. Under Public Safety, $3,000 to the police department. Under Culture and Recreation, $20,000 for the park, which needs a new roof for the shelter, and $965 for tourism. Under Conservation/Development, $5,000 for economic development and $10,000 for planning. Under Capital Outlay, $36,077 for general government buildings, $10,000 for the street machine fund, $24,045 for fire department equipment, $64,728 for street projects, $48,000 for the contingency fund, and $44,500 for future administrative training of Swenson’s replacement when she inevitably retires.

Bullis and police chief Derek Beckstrand briefed the board on equipment for the police vehicle that needs to be replaced and updated, including the dash camera and radar unit. Costs of the upgrades would be approximately $5,400. Schreiner and Swenson suggested transferring $5,400 from what was being reallocated for the contingency fund to the police department fund to cover the costs of the upgrades. The board was agreeable to the suggestion and the resolution was approved with the changes.