March 12, 2024, Annual Town Meeting Minutes (Unapproved)

  • The meeting was called to order by clerk Lita Wallace at 8:40 p.m. The meeting was held at the Pequaywan Fire Hall.
  • Attendees: Clerk Lita Wallace, Bill Scalzo, Lynn Scalzo, Faye Swanstrom, Don Swanstrom, Doug Dressen, Deb Pomroy, Bonnie Dressen, Carol Nelson, Dale Brooks, Corbin Ringsred, Katlin Dellenbach, Lori Rich, John Rich, John Wall, Chris Jussila, Thomas Getchell, Dorothy Galinski, Laurie King, Ken Kost, Mike Nilsen, Nancy Nilsen, Steven Call, Melodee Call, Ted Wallace, Stephen Jones, Stephanie Jones, Steve Mueller, Matt Nielsen, Debbie Maida, Jeff Maida, Charles Kuettel, Brian Linn Penny Linn, Jeff Gruver, Jim Wilson, Mark Freeman, Daryle Waldriff, Thomas Jackson
  • Wallace read the result of Township Election for one open supervisor position as follows: James Wilson, 34 votes; write-in Donald Swanstrom, 22 votes; write-in Dorothy Galinski, 1 vote. James Wilson won the election.
  • Election of a moderator (registered voters at Pequaywan Township): Chris Jussila and Mark Freeman were nominated. Mark Freeman declined. Voters voted for Chris Jussila to be the moderator which he accepted with a unanimous vote.
  • Moderator announced Agenda for rest of Meeting (moderator, subject to modification by vote of electorate) in which there was no change.
  • (Moderator) Review and approve previous year’s annual meeting minutes: The clerk provided copies of the 2023 Annual meeting minutes. A motion and second  to approve the minutes were provided, and voted unanimously, motion carried.
  • Road Report was provided by supervisors Douglas Nelson, Charles Kuettel, and Douglas Dressen. Discussion ensued around how much has been spent on the road over the years, grant status for assistance on repair, and potential assessment for residents. Further discussion to take place at board level. See below for more information on the Road Report.
  • (Treasurer) Reading of Board of Audit Report was completed.
2023 Cash Control Statement 1/1/2023-12/31/2023
Fund Beginning Balance Receipts Disbursements Ending Balance
General Fund $26,772.97 $48,073.55 $33,903.89 $40,942.63
Road and Bridge (On-going Maintenance 11,782.09 4,349.55 9,371.99 6,759.65
Fire and EMS 21,525.28 18,373.31 18,000.00 21,898.59
Building/Property Maintenance Fund 3,500.00 1,994.12 0.00 5,494.12
Roads and Bridges (Capital Reserve) 171,929.15 7,471.73 0.00 179,400.88
Total $235,509.49 $80,262.26 $61,275.88 $254,495.87
  • Treasurer presented comparison of Levy and Expenses from previous years
SUMMARY 2024 LEVY 2023 LEVY   2023 EXPENSES 2022 EXPENSES
General Fund $26.000.00 $35,000.00 $33,903.89 $18,669.77
Road and Bridges (On-going Maintenance 2,000.00 2,000.00 9,371.99 3,168.83
Fire and EMS 25,000.00 18,000.00 18,000.00 16,500.00
Building/Property Maintenance Fund 2,000.00 2,000.00 0.00 0.00
Roads and Bridges (Capital Reserve) 5,000.00 2,000.00 0.00 0.00
Total $60,000.00 $59,000.00 $61,275.88 $38,338.60
  • (Pequaywan Fire Chief Tom Getchell) Report from Pequaywan Fire & EMS and request for 2025 Levy:  The Fire Department is requesting $25,000.00 which is the same as in 2024 and to be paid in two installments in 2025. Electors vote on the amount to provide for fire department, supervisors will render the final decision during March Town Board Meeting. See 2024 Budget at https://pequaywantownship.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/PLVFD.pdf

For 2022 and 2023, their expenses exceeded their income. A question was asked about their 2024 income and expenses and again the loss projected. Getchell said that that future levy requests would be higher. Getchell mentioned that dead balsam issue is a fire hazard. Residents thanked the fire department for taking care of pile of brush on Rossini Road and for the work throughout the year. A resident requests board increase their funding by $5,000 with no action taken.

  • Treasurer presented total levy which was not increased from 2024. The Levy for Roads and Bridges (Capital Reserve) was set at $35,000.00 to make up for the lowered Levy in 2023 and 2024. It was discussed that we should build up this fund in order to be in a better position to apply for matching funds grants for road improvements.
  • (Moderator) Motion(s) to approve general levy and any dedicated levies (road & bridge, plus others determined helpful to treat as designated and not just a budget item from the general fund) and to affirm total levy including funds for Pequaywan Fire & EMS. Eligible voters vote on the 2025 Levy as proposed by the present Town Board.

Motion and second to set a levy of $60,000 and voted unanimously as presented including $25,000.00 for Pequaywan Fire & EMS, motion carried.

SUMMARY Estimated Balance 1/1/2025 2025 General Levy (Receipts) 2025 Budget (Disburse ments) Estimated Balance 12/21/2025
General Fund $46,900.00 $5,000.00 $ 30,000.00 $21,900.00
Road and Bridges (On-going Maintenance 3,750.00 5,000.00 5000.00 3,750.00
Fire and EMS 21,900.00 15,000.00 25,000.00 11,900.00
Building/Property Maintenance Fund 7,500.00 0.00 0 7,500.00
Roads and Bridges (Capital Reserve) 184,400.00 35,000.00 0 219,400.00
Total 264,450.00 $60,000.00 $60,000.00 264,450.00
  • General Discussion of Items of Concern: This section can be used to allow the residents to voice their opinions on any matter, but such input is only advisory to the board. Common issues may include culvert policies, desired posting locations, etc.

–A resident recommended to update the community Pequaywan Lake Association directory and suggested to put it on the Association website. However, there was a strong consensus not to put it on the website due to spam concerns and hacking.

  • The State of Minnesota set the Annual Town Meeting on the second Tuesday of March following the Town Election. The Annual Town Meeting will be held at Pequaywan Firehall
  • Motion and second to set monthly Town Board Meeting date, time and location to second Tuesday of each month, 7:00 p.m. with the exception of March Meeting to be scheduled after the Annual Town Meeting. Location is Pequaywan Fire Hall.
  • Motion and second to set time to convene and call to order the 2025 Annual Town Meeting at 8:35 p.m.
  • Motion and second to set primary voting place at Pequaywan Fire Hall; garage in case Pequaywan Fire Hall is not available due to unforeseen circumstances, secondary voting place is Pequaywan Trail Blazer Snowmobile Club (contact person is Ray Barnes)
  • Motion and second to set voting time as follows:
    10:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m., Presidential Nomination Primary Election, Primary Election and General Election
    10:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m., State Election
    10:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m., Special Primary Election  and Special General Election
    5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Township Election
  • Motion and second to set posting areas at:
    – pequaywantownship.org website
    – West Branch Road Marquee
    – Pequaywan Fire & EMS bulletin board
    – Pequaywan Inn bulletin board
    -Pequaywan Lake Community Facebook Page

All motions voted unanimously, motion carried.

  • Motion and second to adjourn meeting at 9:58 p.m., motion carried. 

    Respectfully submitted by:
    Lita Wallace, Clerk
    Shane Stolp, Deputy Clerk

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Annual Road Update by Supervisor Douglas Nelson

During the past year, the township spent $25,071.99 on the West Branch Road. The breakdown is as follows:

Snowplowing $2.298.85
Pothole patch by supervisor $73.14
Sinnot Blacktop, LLC $22,700.00

The largest amount was for Sinnot Blacktop, LLC at $22,700.00. This was in two stages. The first was patching the holes and filling in along the road edges. The second state was to fill the cracks with tar. These repairs have help up very well over the winter and will extend the useful life of the road by several years. The blacktop road is 30 years old. The repairs will buy us some time but it is nearing the end of its useful life.

The township has applied for a grant from the State of Minnesota under the Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP). We must thank Lynne Scalzo for doing all the work on this grant application. If approved, it will rebuild and repave the entire 2.3 miles of township road. The new road would be a 10-ton road limit with 2 layers of blacktop vs. the existing 7-ton road limit and improved shoulders. The grant amount would be in the amount of $1,435.594. The township would be responsible for engineering and miscellaneous expenses approximately $86,135.00. This grant requires us to build the new road to State Specifications. We should hear the results of our request by April 1st.

If we do not get the grant, our next option will be to apply for other state aid programs. These grants are need based and often use matching funds, The township must show that State that they are making a reasonable effort to fund the road project on their own before they are willing to help. During the past years, the township have been setting aside funds in the Road and Bridge Capital Reserve account that can only be used for the township road. We have been buying CD’s within the funds to create some income. To date, we have $179,400.88 in the fund. Last year, we put the funds levied into the General Fund. We now know we are better off having the funds in our Road and Bridge Capital Reserve account so we are better able to get State funds.

In this year’s levy, we are asking for $35,000.00 earmarked for Road and Bridge Capital Reserve. There is no increase in the Levy we are asking for over last year’s funding. Taxes are not going up! We’re just putting the money in a different category. Taxes will probably go down because of the increase in Taxable Market Value based on the recent home sales and new homes being built.

In addition, we get Minnesota State Gas Tax revenue which by law ban only be used for Road and Bridges. In 2023, we received $1,611.68. In 2024, we will receive $1,832.85 from this gas tax.

How does Pequaywan Township taxes “Levy” compare to other townships? We are far lower than most townships. The supervisors over the years have been very frugal with your money.

Pequaywan Township levy in 2023 was 9.011
Northstar Township 14.0256
Alden Township 20.133
Normanna Township 9.793
Unorganized Township 12.279

A little history of the Township road. The original blacktop was done in 1993 at a cost of $75,000.00 The cost was split 50/50 between the landowners and the township portion of West Branch Road and the township itself, each paying $37,500.00, The work was done piggybacking on a County Road blacktop project nearby that greatly reduced the cost. It is cost effective to do our project at the same time the County is doing work nearby.

Several numbers have been put forth about what the new road will cost. We received a bid last year from Sinnot Blacktop to do an overlay of the existing road at a cost of $651,100.00. Sinnott offered that they can do it in 3 phases to spread the cost over time.

In addition, we know there are a couple of areas where a new base needs to be installed. Typically removing about 5 feet of fill, installing stabilization fabric and refill with gravel compacting as you go then new blacktop. My best guess is that by the time we are ready to do the project it will be close to $1,000,000.00. This will be a 7-ton load limit road.

The quality of West Branch Road is important for the residents who use it every day as well as the seasonal cabin owners. No dust in our homes, no flat tires. no chipped windshields, no dirty vehicles and much greater safety.

It is also very important for our EMS and firefighters to have a very good road when every minute counts toward saving a life or putting out a fire. This also applies to Law Enforcement.

The County plow river inspects the road each fall and if he decides it’s not in good repair and would damage his equipment, he can cancel our county plowing contract. This contract is very low and a bargain compared to having a private company do the plowing. We’re paying $2,298.95 now. If we had to find a private contractor, the price would be triple or quadruple.

A quick breakdown of your taxes:
St. Louis County 60,381.00
School District 9,722.00
Pequaywan Township 9.011
Total 79.114

I will use my own house as an example. My 2024 estimated market value is $452,700.00. You can use your house values to interpret your costs. My market value went up by $20,100.00 and my taxes went down by $129.00,

My proposed tax is $3,546.00
St. Louis County $2,647.3
School District $703.85
Pequaywan Township General Fund and Fire Department $156.26
Pequaywan Township Road and Bridge Capital Reserve Fund $218.46

In summary, that is about $18.20 per month.

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From Supervisor Douglas Dressen: Two of the Supervisors approved this levy.  According to recent meeting notes, Doug Nelson says West Branch is now fixed to be usable for 3 years.  The snowplowing bill from ST. Louis County is under $2500, and there is $8759.65 in the maintenance fund now.  Why are we being taxed another $5000?

There are 493 parcels in Pequaywan and 88 on 2.3 miles of West Branch. These numbers are directly from the Auditor’s office, some of these parcels are not tax paying. Since 2015, I count $179,800 tax dollars have been spent on West Branch and in 2016 $193,695 was taken from the General Fund and put in a Capital Reserve account that cannot be used for anything but West Branch Rd. The Minnesota Constitution that the Supervisors pledge to uphold states in section 10 Public Purpose expenditures, that the criteria for public expenditures will benefit the community as a body.

There are $184,400 in the Capitol Reserve Fund now. I found no mention of a vote from taxpayers to take so much money and designate it to be exclusively for West Branch.  These dollars benefit only a fraction of our population.

Our agreement with county when we split from Alden Township was that we will build a Town Hall for voting and Township business., and maintain the graveled West Branch Road.  The residents on West Branch want an improved and more like County 44 road and there is a fix for this-  a statute passed in 1989 called a Subordinate Service District.  We need to address this in the near future with an all taxpayer vote.

As far as the Levy presented today, if you haven’t seen any benefit from the $179,800 spent, and the $184,400  that the Township Supervisors transferred from the General Fund to the Capital Reserve Fund, I’m hoping you’ll vote no.