WILMA TOWNSHIP ANNUAL TOWN MEETING MARCH 10, 2015
Clerk Paul Raymond called the meeting to order at 8:15, following the township election and the Board of Canvass. 14 citizens voted and Mike McCullen was re-elected Supervisor and Patrice Winfield was re-elected as Treasurer. Glen, Mike and Gary canvassed and approved the votes. Ten citizens attended the Annual Meeting: Eldon Schmedeke, Alden Shute, Patrick Story, Glen and Toni Williamson, Mike McCullen, Patrice Winfield, Ben Glocke, Gary Vink and Paul Raymond.
Nominations for Moderator for the meeting: Mike nominated Ben Glocke; Patrice seconded. Paul nominated Patrice; Toni seconded. Vote was tied; Patrice said she deferred to Ben and Ben took the floor as moderator.
Paul read the record of the March 2014 Town Meeting. Glen moved to approve; Gary seconded.
Patrice presented the 2014 Wilma Township Financial Statement. She explained how she broke down payroll and other compensation for officers to show what each officer is receiving in salary, and for other compensation like insurance, conferences, short courses, mileage, internet, and for judging elections. At the end of the year the township carried over a balance of $129,849.47 in all funds and CD’s. Balance starting 2014: $113,758.07; receipts in 2014: $67,229.12 in total revenues; disbursements: $51,137.72.
Paul said he had wanted to submit a supplemental report of all the governmental workers our taxes support, from the President of the United States to our Senators and State Senators and Representative, and our county officials like the Sheriff, Auditor, Jailer and Assessor, including all perks and benefits, but Pine County no longer discloses what our county officials receive, and he would have to file a freedom of information act request to see them. He said there is no doubt that township officials are at the very very bottom of the totem pole in compensation, yet they most directly benefit our citizens in our most important needs, roads, security, and community support. Patrice was commended for her good report. Glen moved to approve the report; Alden seconded.
Road Report: Road Manager Mark Pallow is in San Francisco, so Gary gave the Road Report for 2014. Gary said we used up all of our gravel pile at Alden Shute’s, and put gravel on several roads, mostly on the Mayfield Road where a new culvert was put in. Schmedeke Lane extension was adopted by the Township as a township road, and in the spring the county will pay us $10,000 to build up the road with class 5 gravel and reinforcement of the culvert. Gary said there have been some problems with escrow bonds with truckers, partly them trying to use one permit for multiple roads, and two loggers, Hayward and T&T both logging on Tamarack Pine Drive and the Mink Farm Road, but not both paying deposits. Ben thanked Gary for the road report, which he had to assemble on short notice.
LEVIES AND BUDGET FOR 2016: Road and Bridge Fund: Pat asked what comes under this fund; Mike said gravel, grading, snowplowing, culverts, grader operators, repairs and equipment. Pat asked why the fund was not being increased, when expenses in so many areas are going up. Our funds have remained stable for several years. Mike said we still have a balance of $76,625 in the Road & Bridge fund, plus over $20,000 in R&B CD’s, plus we’ll be getting the $10,000 from the county. Mike moved to leave the fund at $16,000 for 2015; Patrice seconded; passed.
Building Fund: Gary moved to keep the fund at $5,000 for 2015. Mike said there is still some electrical and other work on the fire hall. Mike seconded; passed.
Fire Fund: This amount is fixed, and what the Duxbury Volunteer Fire Department requests from all three participating townships, $4,500. Gary moved to fund that amount; Mike seconded and said the Fire Dept. doesn’t intend to increase the request soon. Passed.
General Fund: Patrice said the General Fund pays for all payroll and insurance and mileage and training, and it may come up short. Mike said we spent less than our budget last year, so we’re ahead and he moved to keep the General Fund at $10,000. Gary seconded. Passed.
Park Fund: As we don’t have any expenses with our park, Toni moved to keep the fund at $100 for 2015. Pat seconded. Passed. The State Legislature and Senator Tony Lourey are passing legislation to allow the state to give the north 20 acres of our park to Wilma township under conditional use. Just this year our south 16.5 acres passed from conditional use to full ownership. Mike said the Duxbury Volunteer Fire Department is trying to get ownership of the Eagle Head Fire Station that they now have under lease. He said there may be a stipulation that MN Dot can give the land and buildings to a township but not to a fire department, so Wilma would have title to Eagle Head, as we do now for our Duxbury Fire Hall. Wilma could lease it to the fire department for $1 year, and the fire department would be willing to invest in heating and insulation. Patrice asked if the house site would be included, and Mike said they’re asking for that. Patrice said it would make a nice cleared site for a new town hall, and is already leveled off. We would have to put in water and septic for the one MN Dot destroyed. Ben moved that the fire department be encouraged to go ahead with the plans to get the land, even if it involves the township getting ownership. Patrice seconded; passed.
Wages for Reports, Moderator, Meetings, Judges, Mechanic, Grader Operator: Glen moved that we keep all wages and meetings and other paid duties the same as in 2014. Patrice seconded.
Snowplowing: Patrice moved that snowplowing rates and policies remain the same for the 2015-16 season as this past season. Toni seconded. Passed.
Wilma Fall Fest: Toni moved that the fund remain at $500 for 2015. Paul seconded. Paul said we need more local participation in Fall Fest; most of the people who come are from outside our township. It’s a fun, free night of great live music and wonderful food. Motion passed.
Donations to Old School Art Center, Pine County Historical Museum, and The Seven County Senior Federation: The Board was proposing that we give each of them the same as we did last year, $100 each. Long discussion on what each group does and how it is related to our township’s citizens. Alden said he supports the Historical Society with a paid membership, plus paying admission, but he doesn’t think taxpayers should be forced to support them. Paul said they sponsored the election debates this past fall, and that with our tax base, the actual tax each one will be paying will be tiny for $100. Alden said that’s not the point. Glen said the Historical Museum helps people in Pine County to know our past and where we came from. Glen said the board has been very frugal on our donations and they are not squandering money for the township. Eldon questioned how the Old School Art Center benefits our township. He said support for them should be voluntary. Toni said OSAC features our township and area artists and it brings people together. They also have classes on art and woodworking and pottery. Pat said we should expect our local government to help fund some community benefit associations to make a better community for us all to live in and he moved that all three be funded again in 2015 by $100 each. Patrice seconded. Hand vote: 6 aye, 3 nay; passed. Paul reminded them that the Board of Supervisors has final authority on these expenditures at the Board of Reorganization.
Wilma Septic Ordinance: The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on our new ordinance on March 4th, plus it has been posted online for over 6 months. They passed the ordinance unanimously at the March 4th meeting, and it will take effect on April 1st. Gary said the township’s only alternative was to turn over all our local assessments and hearings to the county. Our ordinance is no stricter than the county’s but is is also not weaker. One major addition is that inspections are required whenever properties with septic systems are sold or pass to other owners
Board of Reorganization: Gary moved that we hold the Board of Reorganization, to swear in the two officers and make other decisions for the township on wages and notice and posting sites and bank of deposit at the regular Board of Supervisor’s meeting on Wednesday, April 1st. Toni seconded. Passed.
Board of Appeal and Review: For taxpayers to appeal their property assessments for 2016 taxes, Monday April 6, 1 p.m. At the Town Hall. There was a question of whether it is ever worth appealing. Mike said definitely. Our Board knows the people and the area and often get assessments changed. Ben said his gravel pit got taken off and that Alden should if his is also gone. They may not check for 5 years otherwise.
Eldon asked for the floor to thank Patrice for her thorough treasurer’s reports, and Mike for his wonderful, patient response as First Responder when Marjorie needed the ambulance. He also thanked Paul for his good meeting reports he provides every month. He said it seems like properties that are sold are appraised at higher rates if they have trees; he would have clear-cut his if he’d known. He says he pays $12,000 a year in property taxes. He also said we should change the name of the Road and Bridge fund to the Road fund since we have no bridges. Gary said we do share a bridge/culvert with New Dosey Township on Heller Drive. Eldon said he feels very strongly that we should have a road log in the grader so the Road Manager/Grader Operator could document thoroughly what work and gravel is being done on each road. He also believes the grader should have a log so any damages to it could be documented. We need to spend more of our funds on improving our roads, he said. He said he didn’t think a fire truck could make it to the end of most of our township roads, they’re in such bad shape.
Eldon said we need to investigate getting some kind of cell tower in Wilma Township so we can have cell-phone service. Mike said the state won’t put one on the Eagle Head Tower and it’s not economically feasible for any phone companies. Gary said MN Dot and Homeland Security don’t want to share their tower. Patrice echoed Eldon’s concern for cell service. She said companies don’t want to invest here.
Glen said it is concerns like this that make it so important that we attend state law meetings and township association meetings and lobby days at the state legislature.
Glen moved to adjourn the meeting; Mike seconded. Meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.
Paul Raymond, Clerk
Glen Williamson, Chair.