Wakefield Township delays action on assigning designated assessor

By P.J. GLISSON news@yourdailyglobe.com WAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP — Members of the Wakefield Township Board of Trustees voted Tuesday evening to table action on the approval of a contract for a state-mandated “designated assessor” until more information is gathered. Supervisor Mandy Lake, who was chairing her first meeting in her new role, said that she will schedule a special meeting later this month to address the action in time to meet state deadline requirements. Lake said that, despite the new role being created, township assessing would continue to be done by Melissa Prisbe, who also does assessing for other local governmental units. “I think our assessor is doing a good job,” said Lake of Prisbe. Lake said it was her impression that the state created the new position of designated assessor as a safeguard for cities or townships that may not have qualified assessors. She explained that the designated assessor will step in only if the existing assessor is not doing the job correctly. Lake added that, under the new mandate, the township will be billed $85 per year merely as a retainer fee for the designated assessor, who also will stand by as needed for other communities in Gogebic County. According to Lake, towns or townships that actually result in using the services of the designated assessor can then expect to pay “a lot of money” for actual fees and hours billed. Lake said it has not yet been determined who the new designated assessor will be, but she said two people had applied for the job. Tuesday’s meeting also was the first virtual session by the board. In attendance were the following new board members who were just elected on Nov. 3: Clerk Jennifer Ahonen, Treasurer Denice Laessig, and Trustee Rob Drier. New Deputy Clerk Michelle Wasielewski also was present. Longstanding Trustee Jerry Niemi was absent. Former supervisor John Cox, former treasurer Joan Dalman, former trustee Jim Spencer, and former deputy clerk Mabel Wanink attended their final meeting last month. Lake had been clerk until assuming her supervisory role. The board also: —Heard Lake announce, after input from members, the following appointments as board members of the Gogebic Range Water Authority: Ahonen and Drier as board member and alternate, respectively, and Laessig and Lake as at-large board member and alternate, respectively. —Heard Lake read aloud a letter from former Marenisco Supervisor Richard Bouvette, expressing thanks for the township’s financial and personal support for Marenisco’s lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections regarding the 2018 closure of Ojibway Correctional Facility. —Learned that the Dec. 8 meeting of the Michigan Townships Association has been cancelled due to rising area numbers of COVID-19. —Learned from Lake that the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department is planning a public hearing in relation to anticipated changes regarding its environmental health code. The board’s next regular meeting will be on Jan. 5 at 5:30 p.m. The planning commission will hold its quarterly meeting on Dec. 16 at 5 p.m. Due to pandemic-related restrictions, anyone wishing to attend should contact the township office first at 906-224- 8551.