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July 6, 2022

6/17/2022 12:52:00 PM
Stacy-Lent merger agreement nearing finalization

Stacy and Lent elected officials got closer to a final orderly annexation agreement holding a meeting Monday this week for about one hour.  The draft of the agreement on the pending merger, being created by the township and the city,  was reviewed again, in the context of a special report from audit firm Oberloh and Oberloh.  

Officials had hired the accounting firm to do a comparative “statement of net position” for the township and city.  The goal was to see if there’s a basis for major changes to the property taxation levels in the near future post-merger.
The township and city are in the unique position where the township is actually the bigger government structure in this merger.  Property tax collections for Lent were $996,000 and Stacy had $914,000.

Township Supervisor Carolyn Cagle questioned the fiscal impact of the merger moving forward with the parcels that are proposed to go into North Branch and into Chisago City being deleted?  

Does the agreement take this loss of revenue into account?

Stacy Mayor Mark Utecht said, bottom line, “I think everybody’s tax will go up” (as a result of the merger.)
There should be a map made available from Chisago City and from North Branch showing  specific parcels affected by the process. At this juncture exactly who comes into Stacy is not known. The parties have agreed to cooperate, however.  

It was decided that it is up to Lent officials to spearhead coordinating the completion of city annexation agreements to make sure the legal process for all the boundary adjustment is moving concurrently.  Ideally the boundary adjustments office should be getting everybody’s orderly annexation documents at the same time— and they shouldn’t conflict with each other.

As for when the township and or city hold a public hearing— Stacy Mayor Mark Utecht made it clear the public has had their chance to participate by attending the agreement meetings. Although, the mayor declared  at the first session of the supervisors and council members, that there would be no public comment entertained.

Utecht stated Monday night the new finance committee named by the new Stacy city council will be addressing taxes and other fiscal concerns post merger.

 He said he would propose the city stormwater fee, for example,  be rolled into the general levy and not imposed on township property owners as a separate utility fee when they come into the city.

The audit showed the township and city are remarkably similar in finances.

Stacy has about $1 million in existing projects underway but Lent also just spent over $800,000 cash on road improvements, according to supervisor comments Monday night.  This was cited as the reason for less than normal amounts in Lent Township cash accounts.

Supervisor Brian Seekon noted the township is “short on cash” as shown in this audit which is “weird” he added, for Lent Township.

But, all in all “Government Activities” line items came to $1.3 million for Lent and $862,000 for Stacy, which is quite comparable in the big picture.

In answer to a legal question from the last meeting— there is nothing to preclude non-Stacy residents from serving on the Stacy Planning Commission. Lent officials and/or residents who want to learn more are invited to attend a Stacy Planning Commission meeting.

There was also a North Branch-Lent meeting announced set for June 20.  Time and place were not immediately declared.

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