For 3rd year in a row, Linwood tax levy is unchanged
Residents OK $1.5 million at annual meeting March 13
Linwood Township residents approved a 2013 property tax levy of $1.5 million at the March 13 annual meeting, the amount recommended by the Linwood Town Board. This is the third year in a row that the township levy has remained the same.
Supervisors have pared expenses as much as possible to keep the property tax impact stable for residents. Supervisor Phil Osterhus served as moderator.
The 2013 tax levy analysis shows how the $1.5 million is to be divided. General Fund, $292,590; Road and Bridge $577,700; Fire $244,950; Police $220,000; Senior Center $96,750; Park and Recreation, $60,010; and for the first time in at least three years, a contribution of $8,000 to the Capital Improvement Fund.
Linwood’s proposed budgeted expenditures by department for 2013 are General Fund ($387,070), Road and Bridge ($594,081), Fire Department ($234,370), Police ($220,000), Senior & Community Center ($102,750), Park and Recreation ($61,010), and Capital Improvement ($25,000).
The 2013 budget was set at $1,624,281, $36,758 more than the 2012 budget of $1,587,523. This is a two-percent increase.
Auditor David Mol of HLB Tautges Redpath, Ltd., told the crowd the goal is to complete the audit by the end of March. He explained that the financial health of a city or township can be measured partly by the fund balance at the end of the year.
The township’s fiscal year runs from January 1 to December 31. Tax revenue comes to the township in June and December. Fund balances provide cash flow to cover township operations from the beginning of each year until the first revenue check comes from the county in June.
Conventional wisdom is that 50 percent of budget as a reserve is a safe fund balance, Mol said. Most departments have projected fund balances greater than 50 percent for 2012, and 2013.
Fund balance reserves as percentage of the budget projected for the end of 2012 are: General (80 percent), Road & Bridge (82 percent), Fire (27 percent), Police (96 percent), Senior (125 percent), and Parks (16 percent). Combined fund balance at the end of 2012 is projected to be $1,719,578.
Based on the 2013 levy of $1.5 million, projected fund balances for the end of 2013: General (79 percent), Road and Bridge (84 percent), Fire (19 percent), Police (92 percent), Senior (127 percent), and Parks (15 percent). Again, the projected fund balance overall is $1,673,328 for 2013. This is a two-percent increase in the overall projected fund balance for 2013 of $26,719.
The levy is not what it costs to run the township, but added to the beginning fund balance (budget reserves), provides the money for the township budget and what it costs to operate for the year. The ending fund balance provides the cash flow for the township to conduct business and pay bills until the county sends the township its first revenue check in June. The levy is a little less than the budget because of projected fund balance at the end of the year.
These balances should also be considered in light of the size of a department’s overall budget. Residents should also consider whether or not the departmental budget itself has increased or decreased.
In explaining the Road and Bridge budget, Osterhus said there is flexibility. Sometimes a short-term loan between departments helps cover costs. The paper trail shows up in the audit and adjustments are made in planning the next year.
There was a transfer of $50,000 from the Fire Budget to the Capital Improvement Fund in 2012, and another is planned for 2013. This is to build up the Capital Fund for a planned purchase to replace a fire truck.
The police protection portion of the 2013 budget is lower because the township, along with Columbus and Anoka County, no longer support the school resource officer at Linwood Elementary.
Town Board Chair Mike Parker said the board has tried to keep the levy the same or decrease it. He fielded questions about the wages for township maintenance employees.
Surrounding cities and townships were contacted about hourly wages. Those for Linwood employees fell in the middle of the wage ranges for comparable work. He specifically addressed material which had shown up on the information table which had not been placed there by staff.
At least 100 residents attended the meeting, many participating. The decision to accept the 2013 Levy was unanimous by voice vote.
Bob Millerbernd, supervisor and liaison to the Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization, reminded residents that the 2013 levy does not include SRWMO levies. He told residents that it has been a five-year process to secure improvements to water quality in Martin Lake.
The SRWMO had secured a $140,000 Heritage Grant which must be partially matched by SRWMO. Linwood’s share of the matching grant is about $30,000.
This is because 46 percent of the watershed is within the township. Beginning this year three carp barriers are to be installed at specific outlets to Martin Lake.
The goal is to interrupt the breeding cycles of the carp, which travel to shallow water in Typo Lake to spawn. In 2013 two other barriers are planned, one major one at the outlet to Typo Lake.
Millerbernd also called attention to two new rain gardens along West Martin Lake Drive. Three new rain gardens are to be installed in the future.
The 2013 Linwood Annual Meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at the Linwood Senior/Community Center.
In other business, supervisors:
•Announced two openings on the Linwood Planning and Zoning Commission.
•Announced that the Linwood Road and Bridge Committee has an opening for an interested township resident.