Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Greenwood Board sets preliminary 2017 budget at $386,100

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GREENWOOD TWP- The Greenwood Town Board, at their February meeting, reviewed the preliminary 2017 budget that will be presented at the annual meeting on Tuesday, March 8.

The board will present a budget of $386,070, a decrease from the 2016 budget of $401,251 though closer to the amount budgeted in 2015.

Without Tom Aro leading the budget planning process, board members worked through the budget with Clerk Ellen Trancheff and Treasurer Delores Clark.

The discussion did not cover township reserves, which were still sitting at a strong level of approximately $1.2 million at the end of January, or any estimates of township revenues outside of the tax levy. The previous two years, township residents have refused to approve a levy anywhere near the amount requested in the township budget, citing the healthy financial reserves (levying $100,000 for 2016, and $150,000 for 2015).

Wages for township supervisors have been decreased by over $10,000 from previous budgets, by vote of the town board last fall. At the same time, the clerk’s salary was increased to over $25,000, so overall salary spending is not much changed, except for one percent increases built into specific salaries.

Fire department spending in the 2017 budget included $30,508 for salaries, $10,000 for general expenses, $10,000 for operating expenses, $4,000 for fuel/marine supplies, $30,000 for training and related costs, $15,000 for paid on-call, $24,000 for EMS pensions, and $15,000 for the Tower Ambulance subsidy (a per capita levy paid by all participating townships/cities). The department had also requested $15,000 for the fire fighter pension fund, but that was zeroed out for the year.

This put the 2017 fire department budget amounts at $138,508. The township levied $146,506 in 2016. Actual spending in 2015 was $107,560.

Aro, who was in the audience, suggested the budget item for the fire department relief association (pension fund) could be cut from $15,000 to zero for 2017, because the pension fund currently has a healthy surplus.

“I would like to maintain it,” said Fire Chief Dave Fazio. “It is a best guess.”

But Aro noted “there is a sufficient cushion to look at zero for this year.”

Fazio did ask the town board to increase the amount budgeted for paid on-call from $10,000 to $20,000, noting they had spent $16,000 on this item last year.

Chair Kirsten Reichel suggested raising that amount to $15,000.

Fazio noted with more members, and more training, there was more paid on-call being paid out.

The board did increase the set-aside for First Responder pensions to $24,000.

Planning and Zoning included $22,220 for planning director wages in 2017, $6,500 for meetings, $6,000 for expenses, and $9,000 for legal expenses. Fees received in 2015 were just over $20,000.

Items for building expenses, maintenance, and utilities all remained fairly stable.

Trancheff noted that she and Clark will still be reviewing the budget to check for any errors, before the final budget was ready for approval.

The township budget will be presented at the annual meeting on March 8, where residents in attendance will have the chance to vote on the township tax levy for 2017.

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