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March 28, 2020

3/19/2020 2:41:00 PM
Lengthy discussion at Lent annual meeting gives new plow truck OK

The annual Lent Township meeting got underway at the Lent Town Hall on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m.

About 30 residents were in attendance at the meeting, which was preceded by a new room dedication in the Lent Town Hall called the Birdie Woods Room named after Bernice Woods and Birdie Peterson, two community pillars in Lent Township.

Four of the five township supervisors were on hand, with Troy Nelson away for a family event. Rick Keller was then elected as the moderator by a unanimous vote.

Chisago County commissioner Chris DuBose, who represents Lent Township, gave a brief update for the annual meeting, touching on broadband development and the economic impact, the county’s preparedness in the face of Covid-19 or coronavirus and local development that would help the tax base.

The township then got into their own business, beginning with the maintenence report. Maintenence supervisor Matt Fehrman dedicated a majority of his time to explaining the township’s need for a new snow plow truck. They currently have two trucks, one of which runs smooth and has been reliable, the other which has a myriad of problems that has cost the township valuable time and money over the last few years.

Despite the cost of snow plows, the board mostly agreed with Fehrman on the need for a new truck. Keller was the only one with a differing view on the matter. He agreed the township needed a new truck, but he wanted to go the used route to save some money.

Fehrman presented a financing plan that he had put together with a company that had a well-equipped truck available for purchase.

It included a seven year lease-to-own plan that required payments of $34,005 per year with a $1 buyout at the end of the term.

Along with that, the warranty covered all parts and labor for the first five years and parts for two years after that.

Attendees and the board favored that option and they voted unanimously to expand the road, bridge and equipment fund to $55,000 per year from the original plan of $30,000 per year.

Fehrman explained that he would work with the company the next day to finalize the order and the township should have the truck in it’s possession by July.

Every other part of next year’s budget remained unchanged from the board’s recommendation. The road and bridge fund remained at $500,000, the fire fund decreased from $175,000 to $160,000, the fire equipment fund decreased from $20,000 to $15,000 and the building fund went from $15,000 to $10,000. The park fund and planning and zoning were at zero dollars. Keller noted the park fund decreased from $2,000 to zero because the parks are all updated and the Stacy Lions give  $500 each month to the township for parks and rec, and that helps greatly.

Keller said planning and zoning is a small cost and has been at zero for the last three years. Most of the costs associated with it are offset with fees.

The general fund was increased from $200,000 last year to $245,000 this year. One of the reasons for that is Lent’s general fund is fairly low because of the recent paving of nearly all of the township’s roads. Keller noted that the fund isn’t exactly where it’s supposed to be, but was grateful that they didn’t have to take any loans out to pave the roads, thus saving the township loads of money on interest.

“We’re hoping for no bad things that come up, and we’ll be just fine,” he said. “Not borrowing money saved us $90,000 this year alone. And if we get in a pickle, we do have a line of credit up to $1 million, so we are just doing well.”

Keller said that the township has taken some complaints on the paving of roads as some residents have felt that too much brush and trees are being taken back on the side of the roads and widening the areas a bit too much, but Keller said the reason for that is to get sunlight onto the roads. He explained that if roads are completely shaded at all times, it promotes deterioration of those roads. It doesn’t allow them to dry out completely or quickly and the water eventually seeps in, causing damage at a faster rate. “We want our roads opened up and not shaded,” he said. “We want it to be a road, not a cartway through the woods.”

Fire chief TJ Potrament reported that the Stacy-Lent Department currently has 26 firefighters when they are typically over 30. They did recently get three new recruits from an event they ran, though, and he was excited about that.

Potrament thanked the board and residents for their support of the fire department. “We have excellent training facilities here and it brings in departments from all around the state,” he said, noting that the Minneapolis FD was recently up for a training session.

He also noted that they were recently awarded a training trailer valued at over $70,000 by the state. He said there were only four of them in the whole state and Minnesota picked Stacy-Lent as one of the recipients. “We are honored that they picked us and donated it to us,” he said.

The always light-hearted topic of the gopher bounty was discussed. After Keller brought it up, board member Brian Seekon, who’s been a vocal opponent of the bounty, quickly made a motion to stop paying the $2 bounty for the gopher’s front feet and tails. It got a quick second from a member in the crowd, but when it was put to vote, it failed miserably, gaining only those two votes.

Resident Jerry Schroeder, who always has fun with the bounty, made his motion that they keep the bounty at $2 per gopher. The vote passed almost unanimously, with even Seekon voting in favor as his opposition is partly in jest.

The only dissenting vote was board supervisor Lisa Sinna. She is in favor of the bounty but she just wanted to see it raised to $3 per gopher. The total bounty paid out last year was $2,872.

The supervisors kept the same donation limit for charitable organizations at $4,500, for next year.

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