Gundersen Trust Board holds first meeting in over a year

MONDAY, MAY 6, 2019 — A rare meeting of Tower’s Gundersen Trust Board was called to order at 6:00 o’clock in the evening, Monday, by its chairman, Sheldon Majerle. It was the first meeting of the governing board of the trust conducted in more than a year and the call to order was followed by a bit of confusion in establishing an agenda.

Mayor Orlyn Kringstad, asked to strike reorganization of the Gundersen Trust until its next meeting. “I don’t think we are ready to reorganize,” Kringstad said, reporting that the Tower Forestry board did not conduct its February meeting and has yet to recommend members from that board to the Trust.

Both Gundersen Trust Board members, Mike Larsen and Majerle, reported that they each serve as representatives from the Tower Forestry Board.

Still, Kringstad maintained, there are open seats on the board and he moved to delay reorganization until they can be filled—suggesting the Trust wait to reorganize at a June meeting.

“I’m going to make a motion to strike 5.2 (reorganization) and take it up at the next meeting,” Kringstad said. Josh Carlson provided support on the motion

The motion to table reorganization was ultimately unanimously accepted following further discussion and it being modified to also include additions to the agenda into the motion.

Carlson moved to accept new member Mayor Orlyn Kringstad onto the Gundersen Trust Board and Mike Larsen provide support for the motion which passed unanimously.

The Trust reviewed attorney and auditor advised changes to the rules outlining how annual earnings are rolled into the trust. With interest rates at rock-bottom lows the trust is unable to roll enough money back into the trust to maintain a match of inflation rates as is required with the current Trust roll-back being tied to the Consumer Price Index.

Currently a majority of the trust is earning rates between one-half of a percent and seven-tenths of a percent interest on its principal money. This leaves scant little return to benefit the City of Tower community and does not meet the rate of inflation.

Reading from previous Trust minutes, Chairman Majerle clarified, “on June 6, 2018 trust payout amounts were amended to be designated: 10% community education, 15% promotion and benefiting recreation within the Gundersen Forest, (essentially ski trails) and the balance, 75%, should be paid to the City Tower for the City Council to use as it sees fit.”

Considerable discussion commenced about how to best maintain the Trust’s value giving the current low potential for interest returns.

Carlson moved, that based upon net returns, following paying its bills, the Trust be required to add 25% of its earnings to the principal of the Trust. The board was unanimous in its support of this motion establishing a new formula designed to continue some growth in spite of low returns.

Last year, 2018, the Trust earned $8,453 and experienced expenses of $4,321, leaving a net balance of $4,132. It is expected that 25% will be added to the Trust’s principal holdings leaving the balance to be utilized for the benefit of the city and community.

Carlson also made a motion, which was quickly approved, to recommend that the City of Tower award the Howard Wagoner Ski Trail $2,707. The request, and funds, will be forwarded to the City of Tower and it is expected that the city will award that money to the Ski Trail budget.

According to Mary Shedd, representing the ski trail club, a new set of tracks for the trail groomer will cost between $2,500 and $2,600 and it is expected that with the Gundersen Trust grant the ski trail club will be able to update its grooming equipment.

In other action, the Gundersen Trust Board:

  • Set 6:00 p.m., June 26, Tower City Hall as the time, date and location of the Trust’s next board meeting
  • Acknowledged that, upon recommendation of the city auditors, it still needs to establish a Conflict of Interest Policy; Budget; and Investment Policy
  • Learned that the city clerk can not move funds, spend funds, transfer funds, and only has access to look at the trust’s records. The clerk-treasurer cannot initiate any actions other than a motion calling for action during a board meeting. The clerk’s role is simply implementing actions as directed by a vote of the Gundersen Trust Board and with the approval of the city council
  • Agreed to review all of the Trust’s investments so it may be determined if any changes can be made to maximize income at the upcoming June meeting
  • Approved paying the Trust’s only current bill due Cope and Peterson, Ltd. the Trust’s attorney.