Board of Appeal/Equalization, 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.


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

Board of Audit and Regular Town Meeing, February 6, 2008

FEBRUARY 6, 2008

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

The Supervisors examined the financial records of the Clerk and Treasurer. Mike questioned a discrepancy between the Clerk’s and Treasurer’s figures for the Road and Bridge Fund. Paul’s books still showed orders paid and receipts in the Gas Tax Fund, but this fund was reabsorbed into the Road and Bridge Fund. When Paul made this adjustment the books agreed and Glen moved to approve the Summary Statements of the Clerk and Treasurer; Mike seconded, and the Supervisors signed off on the books.

Paul presented a proposed budget for 2009 which was the same as the 2008 budget adopted by the taxpayers last March. Paul suggested reducing the Park Fund to zero since there is a $1,000 balance in the fund and we don’t use the park, but Glen said he feels we should continue to fund this fund. Mike moved to recommend the mileage rate be raised from $.45 to $.50. Glen seconded. Mike noted that the board had already voted to increase the rate for special plowing to $150/hour, and the new budget should reflect that for 2009. Glen moved that the special plowing rate be $150/hour with a one hour minimum charge. Gary seconded.

Paul read the record of the January meeting. Eldon asked that the minutes be amended to say that he pays $5,000 every two years in township taxes, not every year. With that correction, Mike moved to approve the minutes; Glen seconded.

NEW BUSINESS: Review of the Pine County Sewer Code. Bob Brewster, who heads up Arna Township’s Zoning Commission, took the floor to discuss the proposed revisions to Pine County’s on-site sewer system rules to comply with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s recent revisions to the 7080 sewer code. Dale Powers, Pine County’s zoning administrator, is soliciting feedback from townships. The county has two years to conform to the state rules, or February, 2010, and townships have one year from the county making the change for township ordinances to conform to the county code. The new rules are 7080, 7081, 7082 and 7083. 7080 applies to individual home sites. 7081 is for multiple homes using one tank. 7082 involves township regulations on how tough their regulations are. 7083 covers licensing of system inspectors and installers and designers like Gale Kespohl and Dennis Schlomka. Bob said that Dale Powers wants septic systems to be twice the size as currently required. Mike said that we as a board need to notify our Commisioner Roger Nelson and tell him that we do not want Dale Powers to be involved in our township or to impose his ordinances on our township. Bob said that Dale is claiming a conflict of interest with Gale and Dennis as they live together and Dennis installs systems and Gale inspects and approves them. Mike said Dennis does not sell holding tanks or septic tanks; he just buries them. There is going to be a meeting at Tobies on February 14 for contractors, not for townships, but Bob plans to attend. Eldon said this is right out of the United Nations playbook to abolish all private property rights. Eldon said that James Obestar is proposing new regulations, HR 24-21, that would define even dry areas as wetlands so the U.S. Corps of Engineers can control our property and he does not want the township to pass any ordinances that would take away his rights to manage his property.

T&T and Tri-State Loggers: Both T&T and Tri-State Logging paid escrow deposits; T&T paid two for both the North and South Duncan Roads.

Election Judges: Patrice will be the head judge for the township election on March 11. Margorie Schmedeke and Tony Williamson will also serve.

Fire Department Tower Funding: Mike said that the Federal Government is providing funds for local fire departments to put up radio towers for communication. If the Duxbury Fire Department put up a tower on the townsite, they would pay $1,000 and the Government would pay $9,000. Pine County got $540,000 from FEMA and other fire departments are taking cuts of it, especially Pine City’s. Mike said a tower could be used for cell phones so we can have cell-phone reception out here, and that they would pay to rent the towers. Gary asked if the township could get revenue from a tower that was paid for by the federal government. Mike said that because it would be on township property, that we could collect revenues. Glen said that in Grand Marais the tower also provides wireless internet service. The sheriff or Fire Department could put a repeater on the tower.

Mike said he wanted the board to be informed because he intends to really push for this money on the fire department since other fire departments are getting radios and towers.

Tri-Township Garbage Board Meeting: Mike said that at the Garbage Board meeting they voted to reduce the yearly fees from $36 to $30 per year, as they have so much revenue. Glen moved to approve reducing the garbage fee from $36 to $30 per year. Mike seconded. Mike explained to Glen how he can get a refund from multiple fees. Paul said he thinks the garbage board should inform property owners who are paying multiple fees that they only have to pay one and how to get refunds. Mike said they also have four new garbage dumpsters that they are not using, and he is going to get one for the town hall to replace the one we have that can’t be dumped. There will be no charge.

Cigarette License: In 1998 the Pine County Board passed an ordinance taking over tobacco license issuance and compliance requirements. The ordinance stated that it would “apply only where local jurisdictions have not adopted their own ordinance.” Wilma Township has always handled our own licensing of tobacco, but Auditor Cathy Johnson could not find a copy of our ordinance in their files and said we needed to adopt a new one to continue doing the licensing. Glen moved that Wilma Township adopt an ordinance that the Town of Wilma will continue to be the issuing authority all licenses for the sale of tobacco products within the Town of Wilma. Mike seconded. Passed. The Minnesota Department of Revenue and the County Auditor want to be informed of the names of any businesses that we license. Paul will send a copy of our ordinance and the business licensed to the Auditor and the report to the state.

Treasurer’s Report and Bills:

Bills were presented:

ECE $ 35.00

Mark Pallow 36.94

FNBNS 2,000.00

The Evergreen 8.25

Joe Vink 40.00

Mike McCullen 73.88

Paul Raymond 193.93

Gary Vink 112.72

Glen Williamson 27.70

Patrice Winfield 242.54

Bob Brewster 1,540.00

Totals $ 4,310.96

Patrice gave the Treasurer’s Report (attached). Glen moved to approve the report and to pay all the bills and to transfer $4,300.00 from savings to checking. Mike seconded.

Glen moved to adjourn the meeting; Gary seconded. Meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.

Paul Raymond, Clerk