Southwest MN Broadband Services looks at closed meetings in the future

The Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services (SMBS) Board of Directors will meet Thursday, Nov. 21, 6:15 pm at the SMBS Office to decide whether to close future meetings. The Lakefield Standard reports…

Future meetings of the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services Board of Directors may be closed to the public, and financial reports of the multiple municipality-owned communications utility may be kept confidential.

Board members — in many cases, elected officials from member cities — may vote on the changes as early as next Thursday.

It sounds like a matter of business process…

“Over the course of the last 10 years, we’ve struggled with how to make decisions based on the type of entity we are,” said Travis Thies, SMBS general manager. “That led to us getting a legal opinion as to how we are supposed to be operating to help us make decisions at the board level.”

Formed through a joint powers agreement between a number of area municipalities, including the city of Jackson, SMBS was organized as a 317A nonprofit organization. Laws governing that type of organization allow board meetings to be closed to the public and financials to be kept confidential, Thies said.

Doing both would potentially benefit SMBS — and, by extension, member cities, local taxpayers and customers — in several different ways, Thies added. Closed meetings would allow SMBS to more effectively negotiate rates with vendors, he said, and keep competitors at arm’s length.

It also sounds as if they would be flexible about hearing from folks in the future, just want to keep business financials more closed…

“I totally expect the board to want as much transparency as possible and to always be open to answer questions,” Thies said. “Member cities would continue to have full access to all minutes and financials and, if someone wanted to address the board about something — even though meetings would not be completely open to them — I would think they could be put on the agenda.”

This entry was posted in Community Networks, Conferences, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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