Greenwood voters deny town board $250,000 levy: says $150,000 is plenty
TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2019 — Four or five Greenwood Township voters were ready the minute the levy question was presented to Greenwood Township voters at the March 12 Annual Meeting. The clearly organized group was ready and passed, following lengthy discussion, a $150,000 levy in response to the Greenwood Town Board of supervisors request for approval of a $250,000 levy.
The meeting began amicably with support from both sides of the room selecting Mike Indihar as moderator for the evening meeting. Carmen DeLuca, who was on the day’s election ballot to retain his seat as a township supervisor made the nomination to hand Indihar the meeting gavel.
His motion was supported by his challenger for his seat on the town board in the election, Dr. John Bassing. The 49 township voters present quickly voiced their unanimous support in selecting Indihar, who then called the meeting to order.
In spite of the congeniality at the onset of the meeting tensions were clearly evident on occasion. Greenwood remains a township where citizens are divided by vastly different views of what they expect out township government.
The township quickly accepted the agenda for the meeting and dispensed with the reading of the 2018 Annual Meeting minutes and gave unanimous support to their approval.
Township voters approved utilizing an abbreviated form of Roberts Rules of order to govern procedure of the meeting.
Greenwood Town Clerk Sue Drobac read the board of audit report noting that each account of the township fully was in balance at year end.
Township voters unanimously waived reading of all receipts and disbursements.
Pam Rodgers reviewed the 2018 Treasurer’s report as previously detailed in The Tower News and Mike Ralston presented a report detailing the need to adjust the 2019 budget upwards from the numbers set two years ago. “We have a need for reasonable budgeting and setting a realistic levy,” Ralston said, “The levy we approve tonight will be collected two years down the road.”
Rodgers demonstrated how the township would continue to slowly spend down its reserves from a projected 2019 year-end balance of $521,708, representing 1.47 times expected annual expenses, to a 2022 projected ending reserve of $501,884, (1.45 times expected expenses) by keeping the levy at a flat-line $250,000. “This campaign ad, published in the Timberjay, was meant to mislead you as taxpayers,” Rodgers said, holding up a sheet of newsprint.
“The township will be below the suggested balance,” (1.5 X annual expense) if the township only sets the levy at $150,000, each year over four years, Rodgers explained.
Ralston said that the town boards goal is financial stability. To get the township to a point where the budget only experiences small cost of living increases and the levy does not fluctuate greatly from year to year.
The question of the levy was given over to township voters. The rush to make a motion by the those wanting to keep the levy at $150,000 caused Moderator Indihar to seek a slight pause to determine where he was at on the agenda. He was immediately challenged by Jeff Maus who suggested that “game playing” would not be tolerated.
As soon as he determined that the township, as a whole, did not approve the budget he then called for a motion to set the levy.
Lee Peterson was immediate with his motion to set the levy at $150,000. Support was provided by Richard Lewcheski.
“It’s more important this year to reduce again—we don’t need that much in reserves,” Maus said.
The town board maintained that continuing the levy at the current rate would reduce the reserves by another $100,000 to $424,000.
“I think we need a $200,000 levy,” DeLuca said, proffering a middle ground for township residents to consider.
Bassing said that the township needed a capital expenditure plan and to further reduce its reserves.
“What’s wrong with having rainy day funds?” Dave Wallin asked.
Healthy debate continued until the issue was discussed thoroughly. The vote of paper ballots was called and township residents polled 27 in favor of setting the levy at $150,000 and 22 stating a preference for establishing a different number with their vote against the motion. The motion passed and the 2020 levy was set.
In other action, the township voters:
- Set the 2020 Annual Meeting for the second Tuesday, after the first Monday, March 10, at 8:15 p.m., following the township election
- Considered a lengthy debate on drilling a well
- Narrowly approved, 20–25, entering into a new three-year commitment to increase the township’s Tower Ambulance per capita contribution by 25 percent each year to a 2022 rate just under $30. These funds are specifically earmarked to replace the ambulances assuring that state-of-the-art equipment is ready for Lake Vermilion emergency health care patients
- Approved donating $250 to the Lakeview Cemetery Association in Tower following a request made by Pam Lundstrom
- Approved advising the town board to avail itself as much training as it can
- Verbalized equal support for and against, returning Public Input to an early position on the agenda, instead of at the end as is current practice
- Verbalized equal support for and against making the Timberjay the official newspaper over determining the official newspaper by current practice of awarding the business to the lowest bidder
- Verbalized support for obtaining lists of volunteers to maintain the township campus rather than paying part time help to undertake those responsibilities
- Discussed, but made no determination in developing an irrigation well at the west end of the township campus.
Fire Department Year reviewed
Assistant Fire Chief Indihar reviewed the Greenwood Township Fire Department activities over 2018 for Chief Dave Fazio who was in St. Paul lobbying the Minnesota legislature for funding. Firefighters collectively spent 2,288 hours serving the township. Much of the time is spent in training, Indihar reported. Fire department members responded to 43 fire calls, 15 rescue events, 133 emergency medical calls, in addition to conducting 17 meetings and 13 drills and availing themselves of hours of outside training.
There are 22 firefighters and 11 emergency medical responders servicing Greenwood Township presently. The department placed a “snowbulance” snowmobile rescue ambulance unit into service in 2018 and made considerable upgrades in communications by acquiring used radios at favorable pricing, Indihar reported.