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Archive for April, 2008

Board of Appeal/Equalization, April 16, 2008

WILMA TOWNSHIP BOARD OF APPEAL/EQUALIZATION
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2008

Chairman Gary Vink called the meeting to order at 10: a.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance. Also present were County Assessor Mike Sheehy, Wilma Township Assessor Bob Brewster, Supervisors Michael McCullen and Glenford Williamson, Clerk Paul Raymond, and Joe Vink, Eldon and Marg Schmedeke, Bruce and Donna Filler, Dave and Judy Swanson, Patrice Winfield, and Scott Quady.

Joe Vink asked for the floor to ask a question of Mike Sheehy: “What would happen if the Board lowered everyone’s taxes to what they were a year ago?” Mike said the Board has no authority over taxes, but can lower property values, but the overall taxes would remain the same. Joe said that taxpayers have lost control of their government and we have to take back the power.

Paul read the record of last years Board of Appeal/Equalization. Mike moved to approve the record; Gary seconded. Mike Sheehy confirmed that there was a quorum present and that both Gary and Glen are certified as having taken supervisor assessment training.

Mike McCullen said he has heard from outraged taxpayers who are fed up with our valuation. He said our values are way too high. There are no sales in our township because prices are set so high by realtors.

Mike Sheehy said valuations are sometimes higher than what properties sell for, sometimes less. They compare assessments to sale prices of what properties actually sell for. The middle rate is the median ratio. There were 267 sales, 1/3 less than the year before, with an average of 96.8% of market value. The base year for 2008 assessments and 2009 taxes is October 1, 2006, to September 30, 2007, so there is a lag in a time of decreasing values that won’t be reflected for a couple of years. Mike said that of 57 sales in Pine County for all land from 30 to 730 acres, only three sales were for less than $1,000 an acre, even in the declining market. Ten years ago there were many sales for $200-250 an acre. Mike said that taxes are based on local jurisdictions, such as townships and school districts. Costs for things like fuel have gone up, and towns lost local government aid that used to alleviate the tax burden.

Bob Brewster said that being fair and comparable is foremost on his mind in doing assessments. He said that evaluations are going down in Wilma township for most taxpayers. The site amenity for the first acre went down from $18,500 to $18,000. Bob encourages taxpayers to call him (320/242-3236).

First up were Bruce and Donna Filler, Parcel 32.0095. They said the appraisal is higher than the real value for their manufactured home. Their home on 8 acres is valued at $157,000, and they feel it’s closer to $100,000. Bob said their assessed values actually decreased this year, and that he could take another look at the part of their land that is swamp. Wasteland is valued at $650/acre and high ground is $1,500. Filler’s home was evaluated as a modular home, not a manufactured home, and there is a difference. Stick-built homes are $96/square foot; modular homes $70/ square foot; manufactured homes $60/square foot; and mobile homes $40/square foot.

Second, Patrice Winfield, Parcel 32.0138. She said her valuation went up and she believes it is being appraised at 100% complete. Bob said it is still rated 95% complete. She asked why her land valuation went up from $102,000 to $109,500 and her building from $144,100 to $146,400. Her overall assessment rose from $247,000 to $255,900. Bob said she has 825 feet of river front land, appraised as waterfront property, 10.25 acres of high ground, 8 acres limited access, across the river. The site amenity for riverfront property went up from $27,000 for the first acre to $35,000, an increase of $8,000.

Next, Dave and Judy Swanson, Parcel 32.0028, 42.4 acres. Bob said it went down from $80,400 to $78,100, and their overall assessment went down from $158,100 to $155,200. The limited market value of all properties has been kept artificially low for many years by the state legislature, but this will expire so the limited and estimated market values will be the same, and the limited market values went way up for 2009.

Eldon and Marjorie Schmedeke, Parcels 32.0104, 0106, 0008, 0114, and 0112. He asked if any parcels in Wilma sold for over $2,000 an acre. He said these five parcels are all valued at over $2,000 an acre. Bob said three of the parcels went down in value, but 0008 has McDermott Creek running through it. Eldon said that the taxable market values are going up and this scares him. People don’t seem willing to speak up and we are going to lose our land. Bob said that by law they must set values at 90 to 105% of what it would sell at an open transaction.

Joe asked why river frontage keeps going up while DNR restrictions on use of that land keep increasing. He asked how you could remove wetlands from tax rolls. Mike explained that in southern Minnesota farmers who had wetlands that could be feasibly drained could have them removed from the tax rolls since they couldn’t farm the land.

Next, Scott Quady, Parcel 32.00160. He has 2.5 acres and a hunting shack, and he had a jump from $14,200 to $26,900, while he has made no improvements. Bob said he valued the site amenities as a full site, with a well and septic. Scott said he only has electricity. Bob said this would drop it $8,000, to $18,900.

Glen Williamson had a question about his high land vs. swampland. Because he is on the board, his questions need to go to the county board. Gary moved that Glen’s case be kept open and forwarded to the county board for action. Mike seconded.

BOARD ACTIONS:

Bruce and Donna Filler: Gary moved to change the classification of their home from modular to manufactured, and that the assessment change be made by the county assessor. Mike seconded.

Patrice Winfield: Mike moved to make no change but to have Bob re-evaluate Patrice’s property and land and forward his recommendation to the board. Glen seconded.

Dave and Judy Swanson: Glen moved to make no change; Mike seconded.

Eldon and Marg Schmedeke: Seven parcels went down and one went up due to river frontage. Glen moved that Bob review the 7 parcels and see if they are fairly assessed as far as high vs. low land. Mike seconded.

Scott Quady: Glen said this is the clearest one as it was improperly assessed for site amenities, and he moved that it be assessed as half a site; Mike seconded.

Mike had two letters. One trailer at Two Creeks Campground had no license so was assessed as private property. Mike moved to remove the assessment as private property as it has been licensed and has current registration. Gary seconded.

Second letter, Gordon and Delores Anderson, Parcel 32.0195, next to Randy Michel’s old place. They felt they were under-assessed. They have a 20 x 30′ cabin with a deck and porch. Mike moved to have Bob assess this cabin and to forward his recommendation for adjustments to the county board; Glen seconded. Glen said the Andersons deserve a commendation from the board for coming forward to have their assessment corrected.

Glen moved to adjourn; Gary seconded. Meeting adjourned at 1 p.m.

Paul Raymond, Clerk

Regular Meeting, April 2, 2008

WILMA TOWNSHIP APRIL 2, 2008 TOWN BOARD MEETING

Chairman Gary Vink called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance. Also present were Supervisors Michael McCullen and Glenford Williamson, Treasurer Patrice Winfield, Clerk Paul Raymond, and Eldon Schmedeke.

Paul read the record of the March, 2008 meeting. Gary asked that the record be amended to say that Eldon did say that Gary had spoken up at a County Township Officers Meeting. With this change, Glen moved to approve the minutes; Gary seconded.

OLD BUSINESS: T&T Logging Escrow/Damages: T & T said they paid the Highway Department for the cost of replacing the two road signs their trucks damaged on the Pete Anderson and North Duncan Roads. Gary

asked if this included new signs or just putting up the bent and damaged ones. Gary said they did fill in the ditch on the Pete Anderson Road they had dug out. Mike said that the escrow payment should not be returned until the whole board has a chance to inspect the two roads at the road inspection.

Annual Road Inspection: Mike suggested that the road inspection be held May 7th, before the fishing opener and a lot of trucks and vehicles start tearing up the roads. He moved that the inspection be Wednesday, May 7, at 10 a.m., meeting at the Town Hall. Glen seconded. Paul will post this.

Pine County CERT: There will be training for the Community Emergency Response Team to train volunteers in emergency management for the community response to disasters. Glen said he would like to be certified for this and may attend the training meetings. Mike said that this is the kind of training the fire department volunteers get.

County Township Officers Meeting: Glen reported on the County Township Officers Meeting in Hinckley March 29th at which he was elected Clerk/Treasurer for the Association. The County Commissioners are trying to establish public transportation in Pine County and sent out a survey for responses. This is a separate issue from the train. They want to leverage state and federal funds towards public transportation.

High-speed passenger rail service: Things are moving forward on the passenger train linking the Cities and Duluth. It will pass through 7 counties with possible stops in Cambridge and Hinckley. One-third of the track will be in Pine County. The most contentious issue is the train stopping at the Casino. Roger Nelson opposes this. They want a public station on public land. There will be in informational meeting April 1st in Pine City. High-speed rail will require lights and/or gates at all rail crossings, and there is $250 million capital improvement to upgrade the tracks and crossings. There will need to be a lot of double track because of the freight trains. The goal is for commuters to use the train. The Pine County Rail Authority is paying $20,000 for a study on the train; we have 1/3 of the land and only 5% of the vote.

County Jail: Mark Mansavage reported that the jail is not meeting its goal of boarding out-of-county prisoners. The jail has 131 beds but only boards 3 to 13 prisoners out of county, plus 55 Pine County offenders, leading to a shortfall in projected revenues. The County gets $50 per day for prisoners. The county has a new Lieutenant, Robin Cole, based at the Land Building in Sandstone, which improves customer service in the County. He helped clear up 22 burglaries leading to 3 arrests. High fuel costs are curtailing deputy responses when investigations can be done by phone. Pine County is increasingly becoming the playground of the cities but the Department can’t utilize all the patrol equipment like 4-wheelers they have from the DNR due to manpower budgets. They can’t patrol waterways and trails.

Mike Sheehy, Pine Co. Assessor, said that they will have a website so people can look up values.

Brett Grundmeier from the DNR said that the new side-by-side ATVs can ride on the shoulder of county roads. All ATV’s can drive on township roads on the right sides, but on county roads must drive on the back slope of the ditch unless there is no ditch like on 141. With an agricultural permit, they can ride on County roads. Class 2 (side-by-sides) can’t run on trunk roads like 48, and can’t ride in ditches. None are allowed on grant-in-aid groomed snowmobile trails except when trails travel along the ditches, and in summer. The St. Croix and Nemadji Forests allow ATV’s and dirt bikes. All trails are 90% signed and posted. Because of the damages and problems caused by ATV’s, the Commissioners have talked about banning them altogether. Brett said timberwolf regulations have passed to the state and that it is legal to kill wolves that are harassing cattle. Farmers must call the DNR. Federal trappers will come out free. Six have been killed so far. The DNR is proposing banning all deer shining from an hour after sunset. Shining is legal if there is no firearm in the vehicle. One-year burning permits can be obtained online at DNR.State.MN.Us, and one only has to call an 800 number when they want to burn.

Don Sherpa from the Township Association said that the joint-lobbying days will be April 9 and 10 in St. Paul. So far they have been able to get townships exempt from HAVA voting machine use for local elections.

Glen was shocked that the Association paid out $400 for the meeting, for the use of the building and for the food.

Town and Country Oil: Their pancake breakfast is April 16 in Mora. Towns can order pre-buys between now and April 16. Gary said we have never done a pre-buy on oil.

MAT Officer Life Insurance: There was a discussion on increasing the insurance coverage for officers, for life and disability insurance. Gary said we should table this for a year; Mike moved to keep our coverage at its present level of $165 for all 5 officers; Gary seconded.

Fire Protection Fees: This was voted on at the annual meeting. Gary moved to pay the Duxbury Volunteer Fire Department the agreed on $3,500 for 2008 township fire protection. Glen seconded.

Sisterman Easement: Lisa Sisterman sent the documentation for the easement petition to the DNR and the $500 fee. Mike said we need to be assured that the town will have no responsibility whatever for this cartway. There was a discussion on having our attorney review all the documents and draw up an agreement removing the township from any responsibility or connection to this cartway, but Paul said he can go to Rick Dunckley at the DNR and bring all the papers and have him review them and tell us if the town has any legal responsibility for this road. Gary said we need to table this and hold onto the check until we get clarification on this, and that we need to invite the Sistermans and Dunckley to our April meeting to explain what is involved.

Town Park: Eldon asked if the town could get county assistance to build up the driveway/entrance into the town park land. He asked if we could have Duane Glienke square off a site at the landing for a town park and or new town hall. Eldon asked for a complete breakdown of all funds spent on the new grader, from the trip by Joe and Mark to get the grader to all oil and maintenance and parts needed for its use since we purchased it. Paul and Patrice provided Eldon with town financial statements from 2006 and 2007 which show grader loan payments and oil and parts, but Eldon said he needs more details. Gary said that the town can’t pay for the hours of research this would require at this time.

Treasurer’s Report and Bills:

Patrice gave the Treasurer’s report (attached). Bills for April:

FNBNS $ 2,000.00

ECE 45.53

Federated Coop 181.07

Duxbury Volunteer Fire Department 3,500.00

Marg Schmedeke 35.00

Paul Raymond 238.26

Patrice Winfield 193.27

US Treasury 455.67

MN Benefit Association (life/disability) 165.00

Gary Vink 56.22

Duxbury Store (supplies) 10.95

Michael McCullen 24.24

Glen Williamson 96.95

Toni Williamson 35.00

Total all bills: $ 7,037.21

Glen moved to approve the Treasurer’s report, to pay all the bills, and to transfer $7,000 from savings to checking. Mike seconded. Glen moved to transfer $21 from T & T Loggings escrow account to cover the cost of labor and mileage to inspect the roads they did work on. Mike seconded. Gary moved to adjourn; Glen seconded. Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

Paul Raymond, Clerk