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Local News

At its Oct. 13 meeting, the Yankee Springs Township Board voted 3-1, with one abstention, to allow board members to participate and vote on township matters via teleconferencing.

Supervisor Mark Englerth was the sole “no” vote. Clerk Janice Lippert, Treasurer John Jerkatis and Trustee Bruce Campbell voted “yes.”

 

Trustee Roger  Rottschafer, who is in Florida, voted on other issues by phone, but said he would abstain because he did not have enough information to vote on electronic attendance.

 

“If you are not there; you are not there," Englerth said. “If it is important that they vote, they should be there. That’s the first time in the history of Yankee Springs,  and probably Barry County, that someone has voted over the phone.”

 

Englerth noted there was no board policy on elecronic attendance, however, he said the board plans to develop one.

 

“Would it be okay for all of the board members not to show up, have an empty hall and have a custodian running the meeting?” he asked. “This all started at the Planning Commission. They wanted to keep some (members) who go to Florida over the winter."

 

Lippert, who supported the change, was contacted and asked several submitted questions about the issue last Friday. There has been no reply.

 

Some of the questions still to be answered are if the board is going to consult an attorney, if the absent member has to notify the board of an absence and the length of time they will be gone, if there a limit to how many meetings they can miss, how many members can be absent at one time, and if the teleconferencing is considered an automatic excused absence.

 

When the Barry County Board of Commissioners debated the same issue in November 2013, and ultimately rejected it,  County Administrator Michael Brown said the county's legal counsel said attendance may be allowed by teleconferencing, if they can be clearly hard by all those present at the meeting.

 

That would include voting on matters, but the absent member could not constitute a quorum, which is a court decision. That would mean if four of the seven members of the commission were present, three could be attending from a remote location and there would be a quorum, Brown said.

 

 

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