Kingsford mulls policy on council member conduct


News Editor

KINGSFORD – Kingsford aims to ban individual city council members from representing the city in business matters without prior approval from the council.

In a 4-1 vote Monday, the council submitted language that will be drafted into a formal resolution.

Under the proposal, council members will be prohibited from:

– Soliciting and/or procuring bids on behalf of the city for purchasing goods and/or services from any individual, business or governmental unit, without specific authorization from the city council and then only in conformity with the bid specifications.

– Independently making any offer and/or proposals on behalf of the city to provide services or goods to any individual, business or governmental unit, without specific authorization from the city council.

A violation of the resolution may be subject for removal from office, under procedures detailed in the city charter.

Council member Brian Smeester voted no, saying portions of the resolution are unclear and could restrict a council member’s freedom of speech.

Mayor Dennis Baldinelli said the resolution doesn’t prevent a council member from speaking, but “you can’t say you’re representing the council” when not authorized to do so.

The action comes after Smeester distributed a police and fire consolidation proposal to Iron Mountain officials, which council member Michael Flaminio said was inappropriate.

Smeester, however, denied that he ever claimed to be representing the council.

“I’m allowed to talk to Iron Mountain officials,” he said.

A joint Iron Mountain-Kingsford committee has been considering ideas to merge police and fire services but has yet to agree on a proposal.

“The committee has made a lot of progress but we have not seen a plan from Iron Mountain and they have not acknowledged our plan,” said Flaminio.

Smeester, who has not served on the committee, says the time has come for a public referendum. His idea calls for a public safety authority comprised of five council members from each city and a director elected at-large.

Baldinelli was dismissive of Smeester’s proposal at Monday’s council meeting, saying, “It sounds like you want to put complete politics into this.”

In other action, the council:

– Adopted a 2013-14 fiscal year budget in a 4-1 vote, with Smeester voting no. There were no comments during a public hearing on the spending plan, which establishes a levy of 21.996 mills for city purposes, a decline of 0.1 percent from the current rate.

– Agreed to seek bids for a timber cutting on 40 acres of city-owned property near Nocerini Road in Breitung Township. A forest management plan from VanOss Forestry Services of Crystal Falls recommends that mature aspen be harvested. VanOss will receive a 10 percent commission for overseeing the sale.

– Scheduled a public hearing for 6:45 p.m. Monday, July 1, on a request for a zoning variance for construction of a fence at 125 Breitung Avenue. Brad Barglind wants to have a larger storage area behind his business by placing the fence at the property line, rather than meeting the required setback, said City Manager Tony Edlebeck. A neighboring fence is also at the property line, he noted.

– Set a price of $12,500 for the potential sale of a residential lot at 137 Evergreen Court. If the sale goes through, it would be the fifth lot sold by the city in the Evergreen residential development, Edlebeck said.

Jim Anderson’s email address is