REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING (December 20-2005)

 

Acting chairperson, Robert (Bob) Benson called the meeting to order.  Others present included Supervisor Heather Sharp and Clerk Colleen Thompson.  Supervisor David Garner and Treasurer Kenneth Ebert were not present.

 

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

 

Conflicts of interest were called for, both Supervisors stating none.

 

Colleen read the minutes of the November 15, 2005 Town Board Meeting submitted by Deputy Clerk Joyce Moorhouse.  Discussion was had about the minutes pertaining to the payment for chloride application to the driveway of the Schlichting’s.  Colleen stated that the Schlichting’s have had chloride applied to their driveway for the past several years by Farrellgas.  The contractor has always agreed to the application to the private drive with the understanding that the Township pays the total bill and is then responsible for billing the cost of the entire application to the individual party.  Colleen stated this bill was included in the Township’s bill, was paid by the Township and we are now being reimbursed.  The minutes stated the payment was denied and the Clerk should take care of this. Colleen stated there is nothing for us to do but accept payment and deposit the money into our road and bridge account.  Bob made a motion to strike the paragraph pertaining to this payment from the minutes.  Heather seconded the motion.  Motion carried.  Heather made a motion to accept the minutes as amended.  Bob seconded the motion.  Motion carried.

 

In Ken’s absence, Colleen read the Treasurer’s Report.  Investments: building fund $162,449.21,

Road and bridge fund $126,128.50 for total investments of $288.577.71.  Cash receipts for the month total $68.25 and disbursements for the month total $4,718.87 giving a bank balance of $110,502.28.

Heather made a motion, seconded by Bob to accept the report as read.  Motion carried.

 

There were no building permits applied for.

 

Tom Kurtz and Dan Millard both attended the meeting.  They spoke about the problem of the strobe light on the snowplow truck and that it is repaired by hotwiring.  The supervisors stated several complaints of snow not being removed in a timely manner during the last snowfall but stated they agreed with the decision not to run the snowplow truck until the strobe lights were working due to the risk of liability to the township and driver.  Supervisor Benson told Mr. Millard to have the lights repaired as original by factory.

 

Heather stated that Cannon Falls Township inquired if we would plow their portion of 323rd Street.  Discussion was held of possibly swapping maintenance of sections of our roads accessed more easily by them instead of getting into a billing situation.  Tom asked if this request was for grading and snowplowing and stated the need to check for a place to push snow as this road leads to a private residence. We only do minimum grading to the small section of 323rd that is gravel in our township and accepting grading responsibilities may not be in our best interest.  The supervisors agreed, stating paving of that section of road has been discussed as a future project.

 

Dan stated he would install new signs for Oxford Mill Road, Stanton Trail and 25th Avenue this week.

REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING (December 20, 2005 cont.)

 

Discussion was had about sand and salt prices.  Ray from Aggregate Industries left a message stating $23.00 a ton salt and sand mix.  Delivery cost of $8.86 per ton on dump truck.  Tax is $2.07 per ton. Total cost $33.93 per ton material/trucking/tax.

 

Dan stated we should check with Headberg in Farmington.  He stated Waterford Township received a good price for materials thru them.  Bob asked Dan to get a cost estimate from them.

 

Colleen stated she had been contacted by Dan Lee who does road maintenance for Sciota Township.  He questioned if we were going to continue swapping road responsibilities as previously done as he noticed our snowplow did not continue through on their roads the first two times we were out as previously agreed to.  I stated we had a new road maintenance person and he may not be aware of our agreement.  Dan stated he had talked with Dan and everything is squared away.

 

Bob opened the Public Hearing for the proposed closing of an entire alley in Block 27, Cascade and all of Elm Street in lots 12 through 22, Block 27 Cascade as stated in the petition received by the town board dated November 15, 2005. 

 

Attorney James Burkhardt in representing Gordon Greiger spoke of the need to close the roads.  He stated Howard and Eva Garner in 1963 gave a deed for 54’ of Elm Street to Gordon, had no authority to sell the street and the issue was not brought to the township.  He also stated that Gordon has moved and the place is not marketable until corrected (outbuilding encroached on street).  Mr. Burkhardt asked that all of Elm Street plus the alley be vacated with 40’ going to Mr. Greiger and 40’ going to Mr. Garner.  He stated that this would not entirely solve the encroachment problem but after the road is closed the remaining problem is between neighbors.  Mr. Burkhardt also stated a concern of Mill Street belonging to the township. 

 

Bob Benson stated that after six years of maintenance of a road the road belongs to township.

 

Colleen stated she had received an e-mail from Mr. Garner concerning the closing of Elm Street.  Colleen read the e-mail in which Mr. Garner agreed with closing Elm Street and stated that after the road is vacated the property line will be a private matter between Gordon and himself.

 

Colleen also for the record read the legal notice of the road vacation hearing and stated the nine surrounding property owners who had been sent notices.

 

Bob asked for further comment.  Being none Heather made a motion to vacate by resolution both parcels as read in the petition.  Bob seconded the motion.  Motion carried.  Note:  The Clerk and Bob acting as chairperson signed the resolution vacating a public road and alley.  Bob closed the hearing.

 

Bob reported that he attended the Goodhue County Board of Adjustment meeting.  He stated Frank Otto received his requested variance for the purpose of building a shed.

REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING (December 20, 2005 cont.)

 

Heather reported on attending the land use meeting held in Zumbrota on December 7, 2005 (report submitted and summarized below) put on by Goodhue County Land Use and The Goodhue County Association of Townships to discuss land use issues.  County staff told what information is available on the web and encouraged elected officials and residents to utilize this service.  Heather feels the County is reaching out to the Townships and is encouraging communication.  Lisa Hanni and Commissioner Bryant both stated that any dense growth will only occur in the city limits.  A township supervisor from Kenyon stated significant growth pressure is coming from all directions and the people want more housing options.  Hanni and Bryant sited the comp plan to support the public’s wishes that Goodhue County remain a rural ag county.  The Comp Plan states that all dense housing growth will occur within city limits and be serviced by a sewer system.  County spent two years getting public comment.  The plan has been in place for one year and will be updated every five years.  GIS Specialist Sara Schrader showed the audience the Ground Water Sensitivity Map (also can be found on County web page).  Ms. Hanni spoke about the ground water sensitivity with regard to septic systems and ground water contamination.  Mr. Nelson’s property in our township was a topic of discussion.  A hearing date is scheduled for December 22, 2005.  Hanni and Bryant encouraged support on this issue from Stanton.

 

Heather also reported on attending the Truth in Taxation Meeting on December 5, 2005 and conducted by Cannon Falls School Superintendent Todd Sesker (report submitted and printed below).

 

Property values increased by approximately 15% from 2003 to 2004.  Also, the State Legislature changed its formulas and that means that LOCAL taxpayers will pay more for local schools.  For example locally we paid 23% of the schools operating capital in 2005.  The new legislative changes mean that in 2006 local taxpayers will shoulder 57% of the operating capital, an increase of 34% in one year.  There are similar increases in the equity revenue and referendum revenue the school receives from both the state and the local taxpayers. 

 

The average taxpayer is looking at a 19.9% increase in school district taxes (only in the school district column).  This does not mean that schools are getting more money.  The total remains the same.  The only difference is, due to higher property values and changes in the legislature last session, local taxpayers are paying a larger piece of the pie than what they have in the past.  This was done to balance the State’s budget.  Even though schools saw a 4% increase in their revenue (first increase in three years), the local taxpayers had to foot the majority of the bill, not the State.

 

19.9% is not the increase in revenue that the school will receive.  The school is getting an increase of 4% for only the State’s portion of the revenue.  For example, last year each school in the state received $4,601 per student, this year the State increased this by 4%.  That means each school in the state will receive $4,783 per student.  Any additional revenue comes from local taxpayers and/or fees.

 

The Cannon Falls District’s general fund is projected to decrease by nearly $100,000 this year.  Overall the increase to the school’s state revenue is only 4%, not enough to offset the deficit of $100,000 for this year.  The cost of fuel is 23% more than last year, which means an additional $80,000 had to be added to the budget.

 

School enrollment is down.  Each year the school continues to lose between 20-30 students due to the large graduating senior classes and the small incoming Kindergarten classes.  Each student generates about $7,000 (only $4,783 is from the state).  It used to be that one home generated 2.5 students.  Now it takes 2.5 homes to generate one student.  The amount of money that the school receives is based on how many students actually attend class.  The State pays $4,783 per and additional revenue is in the form of local property taxes (levy) or fees.

REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING (December 20, 2005 cont.)

 

All schools receive the State’s portion, but the total varies enormously.  For example, some schools receive $11,000 per student. Cannon Falls receives about $7,000 per student.  The reason is these school districts are able to pass higher local levies, which in turn generates additional revenue.  If Cannon Falls received $11,000 per student, like some of the other districts in the state, then they would have an additional $6,400.000 to work with.

 

Heather stated in her opinion if we do not get an industry and jobs here our school enrollment is going to decline.  If the supply of houses is artificially restricted than the prices are going to go up.  If the price of houses goes up, then your taxes go up.  If housing prices go up too much we will not be able to attract residents. There are other communities close by with more amenities and lower taxes, people with school age children will chose to locate there.  Heather also stated that because of 9-11 Homeland Security has told our Police and Fire departments that they need to be ready for disasters.  She stated the Randolph Department has told us that they will need to increase the levy from 19,000 to 34,000 and the Cannon Falls Fire Department contract is not up until 2007 but they have already told us to expect a three fold increase. She stated it is not that they want new trucks but they need to have minimum services as mandated by the state and federal governments.  Heather stated that more housing will not cure our tax problems.  We need a balanced tax base.  We need to find an industry that creates a number of jobs from landscaper, janitor, secretary, to mid level manager, administration and professional.  We need a way to attract families with school age children that will live and work in our community.  We need to grow or we need to accept that our taxes are going to be very high. Heather closed the report by stating we have to figure out a way to keep our unique character and attract a tax base.

 

Colleen reported that she attended a Town Hall Meeting on December 1, 2005 at the Goodhue County Court House with the Secretary of State.  All Township Clerk’s and Election Administrators in the County were invited.  The State has certified the ES&S Automark to fulfill the federal mandate for all polling places to accommodate handicapped voters. The State has negotiated a very good price for this equipment.  There is grant money available to be used for the purchase of the required machines.  The County worked with townships in combining polling places.  These combined polling places will receive an addition 25% share of grant money available.  

 

Bob made a motion to by resolution change our official polling place for the Township Election on March 14, 2006 to the Phillippo Scout Reservation, 30654 32nd Avenue Way, off 310th Street in said township and to also hold the Board of Appeal on April 18, 2006 at the same location. The change of location necessitated due to the evidence of mold and for environmental concerns and the possible harm to judges and patrons in utilizing the building. Heather seconded the motion.  Motion carried.

 

Bob showed the town hall building plans to Mr. Larry Lee, representing land owner Loretta Lee.  The township had approached Mr. Lee about possibly building on a portion (several acres) of a 15 acre parcel of his mother’s land.  Bob stated the building is a simple plan 1920 square foot, stick built with siding.

 

Mr. Lee stated he had talked to County and was told there are four building sites available in

REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING(December 20, 2005 , cont.)

 

the section.  An established feedlot by Larry Kuhn places restrictions on the Lee property.  Mr. Lee stated his displeasure with the practice of small sized “feedlots” dictating what neighbors can or can not do with their own property.  Heather stated he should check with the County as to the date the feedlot was established stating a grandfather clause.  Mr. Lee also stated setbacks of 1,000 feet on wetlands.  Mr. Lee stated he would entertain selling two acres to the township for a cost of $25,000 or $12,500 per acre. 

 

Colleen stated she had been contacted by Jodi Duden Clare to see if any work had been done in unplugging the culvert she had brought to our attention previously.  The issue was tabled until next month for any information supervisor Garner might have.

 

Working on the proposed budget was postponed until the January meeting due to Ken’s absence.

 

Bob made a motion to pay 44.5 cents reimbursed expense per mile per State guidelines. Heather seconded the motion.  Motion carried.

 

Mark Dubbels who sits on the Planning Commission spoke of Frog Creek Pottery and an art festival that was held at their location with multiple artisans attending to sell their wares.  He stated this goes beyond a home based business and he requested the Board make a further investigation into the issue stating it was reported in the paper and persons were invited to sell their product.

 

Colleen distributed the mail.

 

Bob made the following statement.  The reason the township did not go with Dan Benham for the road maintenance position was because when the Township asked for information for employment he refused to give us that information and when working for the State, County, or Township, you must provide information first.  In not providing that information he chose not to work for the township.

 

Bob made a motion, seconded by Heather to pay claims.  Motion carried.

 

Heather stated she is resigning from her position of Stanton Township Supervisor due to her job situation she now needs to market and sell her property.  She also stated she does not want issues of conflict of interest, or a bad light placed on the township.  She stated “I am resigning at the end of tonight’s meeting”.

 

Note:  In Supervisor Garners absence, no action could be taken in accepting Supervisor Sharp’s resignation at tonight’s meeting.

 

Heather made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Bob.  Motion carried.