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Councilor is a no-show

Due to lack of a quorum, the Menahga City Council rescheduled this month's meeting for 8:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 19.

Two members notified the rest of the council in advance that they would be absent. The three remaining council members were scheduled to meet Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Council members Maxine Norman and Joel Mickelson were the two who planned on missing the meeting.

Mayor Tom Larson and council members Kim Rasmussen and Dennis Komulainen were the remaining three who planned to hold the meeting.

But Tuesday, Komulainen was a no show after city staff attempted to reach him several times by phone.

The mayor originally called a special meeting for Friday, Oct. 16. But that wasn't within the 72-hour period the council is required to notify the public of its special meetings, according to the League of Minnesota Cities.

Tuesday's agenda had a number of items that the council will discuss Monday. No items have been added or changed.

The council will discuss Ruby's Pantry request to use the fire hall as a surplus food distribution center once a month.

According to city documentation, the insurance company does not recommend the use of the fire hall because of liability issues.

Joe Ingebrand, senior loss control consultant with Berkley Risk Administrators Company, said in an e-mail to the city, "there would be a potential risk for the interruption in the delivery of fire protection services due to the rearranging and/or blocking of equipment."

It would also be difficult to secure equipment and prevent theft, he added. Those associated with the food distribution could be at risk of being injured by the moving equipment during a fire call.

The council will also discuss JP Structures' request to purchase a lot in the Industrial Park that would expand its current offices.

Other business on the agenda includes, discussion and decision regarding a newspaper's request for business conducted at the special meeting held Thursday, Oct. 1.

The Sebeka/Menahga Review Messenger requested the city provide the recording of the closed portion of the special meeting that was called to discuss real estate and unresolved city staff issues.

According to an e-mail sent to the city by the Review Messenger, the closed meeting violated Open Meeting Law.

But in a letter city attorney Jeff Pederson sent to the city, the city did not violate state law by closing the meeting "to consider offers and counteroffers for the purchase or sale of real estate."

Pederson called the second purpose for the closed meeting "complicated."

Because the meeting was called to discuss "unresolved and recent city staff issues," therefore, it was possible that personnel issues were raised, Pederson advised the council to close the meeting.

The law states that the city could close a meeting for preliminary consideration of allegations or charges. But further meetings or hearings relating to those specific meetings or charges held after a conclusion is reached, must be open.

He concluded that the city appropriately followed the state law and his advice to close the Oct. 1 meeting, which means all records of it, will remain closed.