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April 23, 2019

3/21/2019 2:11:00 PM
Lent Township residents get road paving update, OK levy

In the last few years the Lent Township levy has gone from $500,000-- to the citizen-approved levy set last week of $942,000 for next year.  Residents seemed alright with this pace of growth, at least those who were  at the township annual meeting did.  About one in 100 residents, or approximately 35 people, attended March 12.

The levy for this year is $929,500.

Township Supervisors proposed some 2020 levy changes:  road and bridge fund is dropping by $100,000, on paper only, with a shift of the line for wages to the General Fund instead.  This was for better tracking of actual infrastructure expenses. General Fund then increases for 2020 to $200,000, up from $100,000.

The road and bridge equipment bank account is seeing a bump in levy in 2020 by $5,000, going to $30,000.

The Fire Fund stays where it is this year, $175,000 of which $14,000 is dedicated annually to the firefighters’ relief fund, and the fire equipment fund stays constant at $20,000.  The Stacy-Lent Fire department budget is shared with the city of Stacy split township 70-30 for the city.
Lent Township’s building fund line item is increasing substantially.

Supervisor Carolyn Cagle explained how recent upgrades and improvements in kitchen functionality at the hall are paying off. The hall is being well-used and rental income is being deposited into the building fund.  She said fees for renting the hall used to go into the General Fund, which didn’t make sense.  “This building is supposed to pay for itself,” she added.

This levy is going to  $15,000, up from $5,000.  

The bathrooms and flooring are the next two major remodel projects to be undertaken for the building.  The plans also call for a fencing-planting project, which Cagle said she will need volunteers to complete this summer.  Please feel free to contact town hall and leave your name if you have an interest in helping out.  “Sun shades” are ordered and will also be erected at the play area,  next to town hall to help with lack of shade in certain spots.

Lent Township is backing off its property tax levy supporting the Park Fund for 2020,  going to $2,500,  from the $4,500 levied the last three years.

~ Citizens approved donations out of the general fund for agencies and programs providing contracted services, like Family Pathways, Senior Federation, etc. Maximum to be dispersed for 2020 is $4,000.  Each entity makes a request and the supervisors have final say.

The big question during the citizens’ chance to have input was related to the roads.   Lent Township is in year-two of a plan to blacktop roads, approved at the annual meeting setting the 2019 budget.  The residents authorized borrowing to get the roads improved, a sea change in operations from maintaining gravel roads.

Brian Seekon, supervisor,  told the audience the entire roadwork program will need two to three years, but 13 miles were blacktopped last year and about eight miles are scheduled this coming season.

Supervisor Troy Nelson said a few stretches are being negotiated with Chisago City and North Branch for coordinating the re-surfacing, however, Chisago City isn’t interested in the Ivywood area.  The portions of road that lie within the city might stay gravel for awhile.  And, 302nd “...needs alot of work,” he said, and probably will be one of the last on the list.

The township property tax currently reflects only the increase needed to cash flow debt service on what has been actually borrowed.  The loan was $835,000 so far; although citizens had authorized township borrowing up to $2 million.

~Residents asked about broadband improvements.  
County Commissioner Chris DuBose spoke briefly at the annual meeting and mentioned two other townships (Sunrise and Fish Lake) that took the lead on Internet enhancements on their own. He said that the county is willing to facilitate applying for grants, etc. to aid in Lent getting higher capacity Internet --if it’s interested.
Supervisors agreed they’d wait to hear from residents if there’s a strong demand  for this.

~ Supervisor Seekon reported the solar ordinance wording is still being worked on.  There will be no additional array installations until the township’s regulations are adopted.  The moratorium on permit applications for commercial solar sites remains in place.
A citizen suggested it might be time to budget for a contract patrol deputy.  
The sheriff’s office provides patrol at however many hours a government unit contracts for.  (The city of Stacy uses a contract deputy, as do Center City, Harris, Rush City and Taylors Falls.)
This resident was concerned about a level three registered sex offender who has moved into Lent Township. (Public notification meeting held Feb. 26 reported in Press  Feb. 28.)  
He said he has two young granddaughters and law enforcement needs to be keeping an eye out in Lent.  “Think about it,” he concluded.

~ Last year Lent paid out $1,354 in gopher bounty. Residents last week supported retaining the bounty for 2020 at $2 per animal. The bounty is paid for two front feet and a tail.  In response to a question from the audience-- this is based on the honor system-- there is no way to verify the animal was indeed native to Lent Township.  

Stacy-Lent Fire Chief TJ Potrament reported there are 30 firefighters and the department had 274 calls in 2018.  In new equipment: there’s a 2019 Ford 550 for use as a grass fire rig, that replaced a 1989 unit, and a surplus boat was donated by the county for dive searches and water incidents the fire department First Responders report to. Equipment uses non-levy dollars, only fundraiser support, he stressed.

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