Eureka Township Board of Trustees discusses its policies

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 10:56 am on Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Eureka Township Hall was almost filled Monday night as community members came to speak to the township board about a variety of issues. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

EUREKA TOWNSHIP — Members of the Eureka Township Board discussed changing a variety of township policies at Monday night’s regular meeting.

Board members approved signing Michigan Township Association (MTA) Principles of Governance. Ruwersma said the MTA typically sends the principles to new board members as something the MTA wants township boards to be a part of it throughout Michigan.

“It’s a pledge to live by the highest standards,” Ruwersma said.

Trustee Brad Kelley asked if the board would consider changing the policy it has on MTA inquiries. Kelley said when Laura Shears was supervisor, there was a motion that only the supervisor, clerk and treasurer could contact the MTA with questions.

“That is part of our rights as a trustee,” Kelley said. “If we all sign this (the Principals of Governance), every single one of us, we have a right to contact the MTA if we have questions or concerns.”

Kelley said he recently had a question for the MTA, but out of respect for the agreement the township had, he did not contact the MTA.

The board approved allowing all elected and appointed positions to contact MTA if they had any questions.

“Was the original motion even legitimate, can you even do that?” asked resident Ann Roberts. “I just question that.”

Ruwersma clarified the agreement was originally put into place so board members were not calling the MTA and asking the same questions.


Clerk feels attacked

In another matter, Kelley wanted to make sure an issue that resident Les Lillie had with the procedure the board took to appoint Supervisor Rod Roy was resolved. After Lillie assured Kelley the situation had been resolved, Ruwersma said some questions needed to be asked outside of the meeting.

“You know, if you have a question you can just come and ask us instead of bringing it up in a meeting and attacking us,” Ruwersma said. “I would really appreciate it. If you have a question, just ask us.”

The room quieted. Kelley asked why Ruwersma felt attacked.

“Why do you think I am attacking you,” Kelley asked.

Ruwersma changed her tone, saying she did not mean for her statement to be directed toward Kelley’s question.

“Not you, I didn’t say that, a lot of things can just be asked ahead of time,” Ruwersma said.

Roy made it clear that questions can still be asked at meetings, but added residents can also contact the hall by calling or emailing ahead of time.


Being consistent

Under new business, Roy recommended appointing Joyce Sage to the planning commission as the position opened up after member Lee Gillman moved out of the township. Roy said the position is usually made by supervisor appointment with the board’s approval. The board voted 7-0 to appoint Sage to the position with the term up for re-election in six months.

There were four candidates total including Sage, Robert Cooper, Richard Pendrick and Randy Klepper.

“Was the position advertised in the paper?” Lillie asked.

Roy said it was posted on the township hall’s door. Ruwersma said the township still had resumes on file from filling a vacant position earlier this year. Because of the four applicants, the board did not believe it was necessary to post the position in the newspaper as they are not required to, according to Ruwersma.

“How come sometimes we do it in the paper and sometimes we don’t?” asked resident Ann Roberts.

Ruwersma said the township would have posted the vacancy in the newspaper if they did not have resumes that were still “fresh.”

Lillie asked if the board could be consistent by either posting all positions or making recommendations for all positions. Trustee Marty Posekany agreed and requested that the policy be looked at during the July meeting.

“Les had a point, there is no right or wrong, but either way … I think we need to be consistent,” Posekany said. “I would like to have it added to the agenda for next meeting. It would be a good time to come up with a policy for when a vacancy does come up.”


Recording meetings and prayer

Kelley addressed the board about changing township policies regarding recording meetings.

“I would like to see about discussing on the agenda next month for reinstating the audio recording equipment or some sort of recording equipment just for the sake of making sure we have history on the minutes and everything is right and that kind of thing,” Kelley said.

However, Ruwersma said she would rather not tape the meetings, especially with the current equipment the township has.

“I’d rather not just because when you get FOIA’d (Freed of Information Act) then you have to give those recordings to somebody,” Ruwersma said.

Roy said if the board were to record meetings, they would have to get better equipment. Ruwersma agreed, saying the speaker was bad and the batteries never lasted.

The board decided to wait until a future meeting to discuss the audio recordings.

Kelley also asked about adding prayer before each meeting.

“We should do pledge and prayer before we start each meeting,” said Kelley, noting he doesn’t care about who says the prayer or who starts it. “I really think we need to do that.”

After a lengthy discussion, the board decided instead of prayer, to refer to it as invocation so as not to offend anyone that may not want to participate. Roy said he will check with the MTA to make sure an invocation can be added to the procedure. The board will discuss the matter at a future meeting.

The next Eureka Township Board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 8.

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