3/21/2013 11:41:00 AM Keller seated on Lent Town Board, gopher bounty questioned and $10,000 levy increase for 2014
About 40 or so residents came to the Lent Township annual meeting March 12, to talk about taxes, road conditions, gopher bounty and other grassroots concerns. The meeting started right after ballots had been counted, and it was announced Rick Keller had won the Board seat left open by Mike Olson. The Lent Township Board also includes supervisors Gene Olson and Lyle Johnson.
(Township election coverage was in last week’s paper.) Some of the topics on peoples’ minds included the pocket gopher bounty. Lent taxpayers have funded about $1,500 annually for eradicating gophers at $2 each animal. Front feet and tail are presented for the bounty. A citizen suggested the township halt this practice as private landowners shouldn’t get public funds for ridding their own land of pests. Also only a select number of people usually get the bounty, he added. The money could be redirected to other more pressing needs, he argued. The majority of residents disagreed and vocally passed the motion made to leave the gopher bounty where it is.
There was a question about the Falcon Avenue bridge and residents were advised the township and City of Stacy will split the bridge 50-50 when/if a project comes forward. Gene Olson said Lent will seek grant funds for its share. Lent Township levied $306,000 for its Road & Bridge Fund for this 2013 budget year. Meeting-goers supported the Town Board’s recommended levy increase at $350,000 for next year. Budget information estimates predict the lesser $306,000 fund was being zeroed out by the start of the 2013 budget cycle. Other funds maintained by the township are designed to grow gradually. The township is in rebuilding mode for its Fire Equipment Fund leaving a zero balance at the end of 2012 after ordering a new engine truck that cost $470,000. Delivery of this unit is expected October 2013.
The Fire Equipment Fund levy for next year was approved by voice vote for $40,000. The Fire Department Operating Fund is a separate item shared with Stacy-- split 30 percent Stacy and 70 percent Lent Township. The Fire Dept. Fund (Lent Township portion) was recommended for a $145,000 levy, which was adopted. The big fund that’s still growing is the “Building Fund.” The citizens heard there’s $103,459 as a balance and supervisors were recommending a $20,000 levy next year. Another account in the growing mode is for public works Equipment. Lent “paid cash” Olson said for a new truck in 2012 and also purchased tires for the grader, a 72 inch brush mower and other items that left less than $1,000 in the balance for 2013. The levy to start rebuilding this equipment account was $25,000 for this year. Citizens last week approved a levy for next year at $40,000.
Hall plans? A citizen asked if left-over money at the end of the budget cycle can be transferred into other funds. Olson said that’s allowed in all but Road & Bridge Fund carryover. The woman asked that no leftovers be shifted into any fund aimed at adding onto the Lent Township Hall. Olson said there’s been discussion, but no firm plans on any major work for the township hall will come up for action, for at least another year. Lent supervisors have concerns about secure record keeping and enhancing the work space for administration and would like to improve the township hall office area, Olson remarked.
Lent Township’s Parks Fund is basically holding a dispersement from the county, as its portion of new development platting fees. Townships that have written a “parks plan” can ask for a share of park fees the county zoning department collects. The township’s plans to use this $25,685 for a disc golf course near the fire hall. Gene Olson said the Board recommends a 2014 levy at $3,000 for Parks, which citizens approved. This is added to the $4,000 levied for this year. Most of the fund balance will be gone after the course gets completed over this summer.
The General Govt. Fund runs the township, pays wages of staff and elected officials, pays for utilities, town hall custodian, insurance, etc. This was a $175,000 levy for 2013 and citizens supported an increase to $185,000 for 2014. Gene Olson commented this is a “best guess” and there are many factors that affect this general operations account. The state may reduce next year’s Payments in Lieu of Taxes or PILOT monies for Carlos Avery land, or there could be a spike in fuel costs.
Olson said the township’s total levy coming in at $773,000 is conservative and supervisors watch every expense. The current year levy for 2013 is $760,500. In 2012 the levy was $805,000.
ROAD REPORT The township will sealcoat 320th west of Falcon, Enchantment Lane, Iris Ave., Ivan Ave. and Kable Ave. Gravel will be applied to areas in sections 36, 35, 31, 29, 26 and 4. The township will sponsor a recycling event for residents sometime this spring. Watch for details about the date and time and materials you can dispose of.