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Budget Vote Questioned

Question: Was The Vote Correct And Binding?

March 21, 2013
Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

Just a week after the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors voted to reduce the budget of the county's Conservation Board by an additional $15,000, the vote on that action came under question during Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

Board Chair Ron Graettinger, who was not present at last week's meeting, opened the discussion on the vote.

"Your motion last week was wrong," Graettinger said. "You had to reconsider your earlier motion to cut the budget, and a motion would have to be made by Keith (Wirtz) and Linus (Solberg). I?checked with a teacher on Robert's Rules of Order and it wasn't done right."

Palo Alto County Attorney Lyssa Henderson, who was present, agreed with Graettinger's statement.

"Ron contacted me and asked me to look into this,"?Henderson said. "I reviewed Robert's Rules of Order and if a motion to reconsider or amend is made, it has to be done at the time the original motion was made, and it must be done by the original person making the motion in the majority."

"This was an entirely new motion,"?Supervisor Jerry Hofstad said. "This was above and beyond the original motion."

Originally, the Supervisors had voted on Feb. 12 to cut the Conservation Board Budget by $10,000. Originally, a motion to cut the budget by $100,000 had been made by Supervisor Jerry Hofstad with a second from Supervisor Ed Noonan. On a vote, that motion failed on a 2-3 vote. Supervisor Keith Wirtz then offered a motion to cut the budget by $10,000, which received a second from Supervisor Linus Solberg, and passed on a 3-2 vote.

But Tuesday morning, Henderson told the supervisors that under Robert's Rules of Order, that motion to cut may not have been done correctly either.

"By Robert's Rules, after the motion to cut the budget by $10,000 probably should have been an amendment to the $100,000 cut."

Henderson continued, "The same ultimate question remains - a motion should have been approached at that time in February. There's just no clear definition in Robert's Rules of what a new motion is."

"I disagree with that," Ed Noonan said. "Last week's motion was a new motion."

"Any motion to rescind has to be done the day of the original motion,"?Henderson said. "There are two schools of thought on this. My thought is that after considering Robert's Rules that it was a rescinded motion."

"Nobody's going to sue us, are they?"?asked Linus Solberg.

"I don't know,"?Henderson said. "This just isn't good practice."

"Well, at this point, I'd like it to stand as is,"?Jerry Hofstad said. "I want another opinion on this."

"So do I," Noonan added, bringing the discussion to a close.

In other business, the supervisors approved the purchase of a tractor and loader for use at the county's solid waste transfer station.

County Sanitarian Joe Neary explained that currently, the facility is using a 12-year old New Holland 9030 tractor that was purchased used and has undergone considerable repair work done over time.

"We have been putting money away into an equipment fund for the past several years,"?Neary noted. "We looked into used payloaders and used tractors and ended up getting seven quotes,"?Neary told the supervisors. "It came down to a John Deere tractor and loader and the difference between the two best prices was $148."

J.B. Mertz of West Bend quoted $57,000 for a new John Deere 5101E tractor with front-wheel assist and $12,000 for a new loader. Northwest Equipment of Spencer quoted the same price for the loader and $57,148 for the same tractor.

Other bids were received for units from Petersen Farm Equipment in Ruthven, West Bend International and Deitering Brothers in Bancroft.

"I would recommend we accept the bid of J.B. Mertz for the tractor and loader,"?Neary said. "With our government discount and trade-in allowance for the New Holland, the total for the tractor and loader is $37,000."

The board unanimously approved the purchase of the tractor and loader for the transfer station.

A resolution to add the souther half of Section 32 of Freedom Township and the routes of the north and south bypasses to the existing Urban Renewal Area was also adopted and approved by the Board.



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