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Wakefield city council denies trail group funding request

 

June 12, 2018

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

CONTEMPLATING issues at Monday's Wakefield city council meeting are, from left, mayor John Granato, city clerk Sue Ahonen and city attorney Ray O'Dea. Not shown are council members Kay Wiita, Pat Mann and Jim Anderson.

By P.J. GLISSON

news@yourdailyglobe.com

Wakefield — The Wakefield city council Monday denied a request by the Split Rock Trail Association to share the cost of a gravel order made by the association last year.

SRTA president Jim Engel and secretary/treasurer Rod Ritter had requested the help at the council’s May 29 meeting, but the council tabled the matter until more information could be gathered.

At the previous meeting, Engel told the council the SRTA had been charged $20/yard for gravel from Smily’s Trucking and Excavating in Wakefield.

He said he was disappointed in City Manager Richard Brackney’s recommendation to use Smily’s service, which SRTA members felt was too expensive and which they assumed the city would fund.

Hence, he asked city council members to pay half the gravel bill.

At Monday’s meeting, however, Brackney read aloud his own formal response.

“My dealings with Tom Smiljanich (proprietor of Smily’s) have always been honest and above board,” read Brackney. “I don’t know what kind of expectation Mr. Engel, Mr. Ritter and the Split Rock Trail Association had, but free should not have been one.”

Moreover, Brackney added, “I request that all future requests be addressed by the city council as an agenda item before purchases are allowed. All information should be submitted for agenda no later than the Thursday before the council meeting.”

He concluded, “I also recommend that the request to put back any money into the bike trail account be denied. I find no inappropriate action was taken.”

Brackney said he and Smiljanich deserved an apology.

He then read aloud a letter dated June 11 from mayor pro tempore Amy Tarro, who was not present at the meeting.

Tarro’s letter began first with an apology to Smiljanich for the misleading information shared at the May 29 meeting.

Tarro’s letter clarified, “The gravel was not $20/yard. It was $16/yard.” Tarro stated the bill also included a $300 fee for the moving of a bulldozer.

The council agenda packet included an invoice from June of 2017 for 60 yards of gravel at $16/yard, for a total of $960 — along with a $300 dozer moving fee, for a grand total of $1,260.

Council member Pat Mann said she agreed with Tarro and Brackney “about the injustice done to Mr. Smiljanich.”

The council voted unanimously not to help the SRTA pay the gravel bill.

Engel told the council he would not apologize and added, “The apology should come from the city manager to the SRTA for not investigating bids.”

Engel said he meant no disrespect to Smiljanich, but claimed the gravel “could have been purchased for less money, period.”

“We really shouldn’t be having this argument,” said Loraine Mussati, of Wakefield. “There was just concern that communication broke down between the SRTA and the city manager.”

“This is a sad day when we’re not supporting each other. This is a group of volunteers working in the city,” she said.

The SRTA has been working to create biking and hiking trails on the city-owned Section 10 properties off Sunday Lake Mine Street.

 
 

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