Greenwood Town Board will seek approval of 2019 levy and budget from voters at March annual town meeting

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2018 — The Greenwood Township Board of Supervisors will present a $303,319 2019 budget and $150,000 levy proposal before Greenwood township voters at the township’s March 13 annual meeting. The budget and levy proposal was put before the town board by Chairman Dr. John Bassing at its regular Tuesday, February 14 meeting.

Bassing’s proposal called for a $297,319 2019 budget, however that number was revised $6,000 upwards when Bev Petersen asked the board why the township did not earmark $2,000, each year, in 2016 and 2017, for the Greenwood Bike Trail’s ongoing maintenance. Peterson explained that when Greenwood accepted a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources grant to build the trail it committed to create a dedicated fund for maintenance and fund it with $2,000 annually.

The town board quickly decided to increase the proposed budget by $6,000 to accommodate for those years, and 2018, where the township did not pay funds into the dedicated trail fund.

Supervisor Mike Ralston encouraged the town board to take time to review the proposed budget and meet again later before deciding to send it to citizens at the annual town meeting. The vote to adopt the proposal on Tuesday passed 4-1, with Ralston casting the only vote opposed.

In 2017, Greenwood Township actually spent $351,723.22 and set the 2018 budget at $340,122 according to documentation provided to the town board by Chairman Bassing. He was able to project less spending in 2019 and thus the smaller budget, in part, because the township no longer had the expenses of conducting its own planning and zoning.

The December 21, 2018, total fund balances of the township are expected to be at $647,560.55. The 2019 revenue, reflecting a $150,000 levy, Taconite Production Tax, Public Safety funds, Town Aid and federal payments in lieu of taxes, is expected to be at $225,827.42 resulting in a projected 2019 total township year-end balance of $570,068.97.

Greenwood has been working on reducing its year-end balances from a high of $1,356,052 in 2014, according to figures provided by Bassing and will continue to reduce the balances should township residents approve the town boards currently proposed budget and levy.

The proposed budget drew praise from some residents of the township and Supervisor Carmen DeLuca said that because the township does not have many of the expenses some other townships incur, he believed that the township would be safe working towards achieving year-end fund balances at only one-half of the township’s annual operating expense.

Reviewing the 2014 retirement of Scott Kregness, from the Greenwood Fire Department, Chairman Bassing asked Fire Chief Dave Fazio if he updated the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) with Kregness’ additional service. Fazio explained that he was not prepared to verify the records in question to PERA, because his records did not show that the service credit requirements had been met. At the January meeting the town board decided that it would draft a letter to PERA outlining the additional service made by Kregness.

“You prepared a letter, but the problem is that you signed my name to it,” Chief Fazio said. “PERA wants me to supply reasoning for the update. I can supply your letter,” Fazio acknowledged. The town board discussed the issue, but took no specific action. Supervisor Ralston suggested that Chairman Bassing provide the letter, over his signature, to Fazio, so that the additional information on the additional service credits could be forwarded to PERA.

According to Chairman Bassing, Greenwood’s participation in the Lake Vermilion Trail project has hit a road block. Bassing asked Lee Peterson, who has attended many trail meetings, to elaborate.

“It doesn’t look good for Greenwood Township,” Peterson reported. Senator Tom Bakk is against the trail crossing state land, unless it is placed on the road right-of-way, Peterson explained. According to Peterson, Senator Bakk has control of 40 acres, as an agent of a hunting club, owned by a limited liability company, and surrounded by state land. “It seems to be an issue of privatized use of sate land, and very unfortunate,” Peterson said. Many of the St. Louis County commissioners also seem opposed to the project, especially Commissioner Keith Nelson, Peterson told the board of supervisors. He also specifically noted that Commissioner Patrick Boyle, Commissioner Pete Stauber and Commissioner Mike Jugovich seem resistant to the trail.

The trail committee will continue to explore ways of resolving these issues, however “maybe we will have to back out (of the trail project)” Peterson concluded

In other action, the Greenwood Town Board of Supervisors:

  • Approved the minutes of the January 9 meeting of the board of supervisors
  • Accepted the January 31 Treasure’s report reflecting a checking balance of $265,429.95; long term investments balance of $251,499.47 and the savings account balance of $226,703.91. The total, month-end, balance was at $743,633.33
  • Approved paying $7,833.86, the current bills of the township
  • Approved accepting memorial donations, to the township fire department, from friends and family of Darryl Horsman and accepted another donation in memory of Jody Ferguson
  • Approved seeking funding, from township residents at the annual meeting, to conduct a 40th anniversary celebration for the township
  • Approved forwarding 2017 service credits, for firefighters and emergency medical personnel, to the Public Employees Retirement Association of Minnesota
  • Learned that Supervisor Ralston was soon anticipating a meeting with St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina, St. Louis County land department representatives, the Vermilion Penguins Snowmobile Club and himself to discuss the potential of acquiring county tax forfeit land on which the Penguins can build a maintenance facility to store and work on its trail grooming equipment
  • Discussed, but took no action, on a proposal by Supervisor Ralston to advertise and develop a list of vetted vendors which the township can utilize when repairs and maintenance of township assets is required
  • Again discussed, but took no further action, on the retention of a fire department employee. Fire Chief Dave Fazio reported that the department should consider revising its standard operating guidelines, according to what he learned in a conversation with the township attorney
  • Again discussed creating logs for all township fire fighting vehicles. Supervisor Paul Skubic reminded the board of supervisors that the town board determined, at a meeting last year, that the current practice of creating run reports for each event was sufficient to document the use of equipment
  • Approved hiring Crystal Strong, subject to passing proper background checks, to serve on the township fire department
  • Authorized Supervisor DeLuca to hire Heisel Brothers Plumbing and Heating to make repairs to the fire hall furnace and other equipment at the town hall
  • Approved a request from the Greenwood Township Recreation Board to support its seeking grant monies to improve the bocce ball courts at the town hall campus
  • Learned, with a report from Mary Richard, that the medical equipment loan closet was organized and inventoried and excess equipment was donated to a Hibbing veteran’s organization. Richard also reported on the success of the recent chili feed activity at the town hall and reminded the town board about the upcoming spring rummage sale to be held in May
  • Accepted a Minnesota Secretary of State grant of $1,858.01 towards the purchase of a new voting machine expected to cost $5,375 including a one-year service contract.