GREENWOOD TWP- The Greenwood Town Board, at their Feb. 12 meeting, set their 2020 budget at $325,350, up from $297,300 budgeted for the current fiscal year. Townships typically set their annual …
GREENWOOD TWP- The Greenwood Town Board, at their Feb. 12 meeting, set their 2020 budget at $325,350, up from $297,300 budgeted for the current fiscal year. Townships typically set their annual budgets many months in advance so residents will have a better idea of anticipated spending when they set their levy for the following year at the annual meeting each March.
The township spent $314,433 in 2018, leaving township officials concerned that the $297,300 they budgeted for 2019 could fall as much as $58,500 short of actual spending this year.
The budget worksheet prepared by Treasurer Pam Rodgers and Chairman Mike Ralston noted areas of the budget where spending was either over or under expected levels.
After reviewing the changes with the board, Ralston recommended a levy of $250,000 for next year, a $100,000 increase from the current levy of $150,000. He noted this would leave the township with a $565,073 fund balance at the end of 2020 if spending came in as expected.
Currently, the township has a fund balance of $699,023 but township officials expect that will fall to $571,823 at the end of 2019. Township residents have approved smaller levies in recent years in an effort to spend down the township’s considerable reserves.
Supervisor Carmen DeLuca suggested the township propose a $200,000 levy, which would make further progress on the spend-down.
“I think that is pretty high,” he said, referring to Ralston’s proposed $250,000 levy. “We draw only one-percent interest on that money in the bank.”
DeLuca noted that the Minnesota Association of Townships (MAT) suggests that townships keep an amount equal to half their annual budget in reserve.
“We have insurance on everything,” said DeLuca, “We are not going to wipe out any roads or bridges.”
Ralston noted that the town board does not set the levy, and that this was only a suggestion.
“We do have the luxury of raising money pretty quickly,” Ralston said, “but it’s two years behind.”
Ralston said he understood DeLuca’s concerns, but would like to see the levy “get to a flat line and not have it go up and down.”
“That is easier to adjust to,” Ralston said.
A motion to set a proposed levy at $250,000 passed 4-1 with DeLuca voting against.
Ralston said the township has been notified that the Federal Fair Labor Standard complaint filed by fire department member Jeff Maus has been dismissed and no written report will be filed. Maus had filed a complaint regarding the failure of the township to pay him for training time spent outside of the classroom (study time for required homework) for a fire department officer training class he completed. Ralston also noted that their examination of township records showed no problems with how the township was paying its fire department members.
Ralston did say it was recommended that the township store its employee records in a digital form, so they are easier to access.
“This was another unfounded complaint against the township,” Ralston said.
The town board discussed the current fiber optic service being provided at the town hall for public wifi. The township also contracts with Frontier for DSL service for township offices. Currently the township has a contract with the Northeast Service Coop (NESC) for the public wireless service, providing that service free of charge through June 2020. After that date the cost would be $40 per month.
Clerk Sue Drobac noted that the public wireless is not working as well as previously in the parking lot area since NESC moved the modem, but she said NESC staff would be returning to correct the issue. The cost to provide fiber optic service from NESC for use in the township and fire department offices has not yet been determined, said Drobac. Once it is available, she said, the town board can decide whether to continue with Frontier or utilize the NESC network.
In other business, the town board:
Decided to let existing employee contracts with the fire chief and safety office expire at the end of March. These are the only remaining employment contracts the township had. Other salaried employees in the fire department have not been working under a formal contract, just under the township’s personnel policies.
Signed a service contract for annual maintenance on the town hall generator.
Accepted a $200 donation from the Greenwood Quilters.
Donated $100 to the St. Louis County Fair.
Took no action on an email from Scott Kregness on the dispute over the length of his service and amount of pension earned. Kregness maintains he is owed for 25 years of service, and Fire Chief Dave Fazio says only 23 years and seven months was earned. Ralston noted it was up to Kregness to provide documentation for the time in question.