Linwood levy to hold steady at $1.5M

Residents provide input at annual meeting


Alice Pickering
Linwood Reporter

Linwood residents approved the 2014 levy in the amount of $1.5 million at the March 12 annual meeting. This was the amount recommended by the town board. The 2014 budget in the amount of $1,769,281 was also approved.

The levy has been set at or below that mark since 2009, dropping to $1.425 million in 2010. Approval was unanimous by a voice vote.

Four public budget workshops were held before the annual meeting. About 80 residents attended. Brent Lee, former board chair, served as moderator for the meeting.

Auditor David Mol of HLB Tautges Redpath, Ltd. summarized recent township levies, which have remained steady over the past six years. Funds have been allocated a little differently each year.

Mol 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 conventional wisdom is having about 50 percent of the year’s budget as a reserve at year’s end. This provides cash for paying the bills between June and December tax checks from Anoka County. An additional 10-15 percent is recommended as a contingency for unplanned expenses.  Overall, Linwood is in good financial shape.

The 2014 levy analysis shows how the $1.5 million is to be allocated between departments: General Fund, $264,590; Road and Bridge, $549,700; Fire, $301,950; Police, $220,000; Senior Center, $68,750; Park and Recreation, $87,010; and for the second consecutive year, a contribution of $8,000 to the township’s Capital Improvement Fund.

There are decreases of $28,000 in the 2014 levy in the General, Road and Bridge, and Senior/Community Center funds, representing a total of $84,000. The decreases are balanced by increases of $57,000 in the Fire Fund and $27,000 in the Parks and Recreation Fund.

At the beginning of 2013 Linwood had a beginning fund balance of $1,744,036. Budgeted revenue is $1,651,000. Together this represents $3,395,036 to provide services to Linwood residents for 2013.

By department, Linwood’s proposed 2013 budgeted expenditures are: General Fund, $387,070; Road and Bridge, $664,081; Fire Department, $234,370; Police, $220,000; Senior & Community Center, $102,750; Park and Recreation, $61,010; and Capital Improvement, $25,000. The total is $1,769,281.

The difference between the revenue available and these budgeted expenditures is the projected 2013 ending fund balance of $1,625,755. This figure is used to budget expenditures for 2014.

Total budgeted revenues for 2014 equals $1,696,000, which includes the levy ($1.5 million) and other revenue (licenses, permits, cable fees, state aid grants, other grants and aid, interest). With the projected beginning fund balance of $1,625,755, revenue to operate the township for the year totals $3,321,755.

The proposed 2014 budgeted expenditures by department are: General Fund, $396,850; Park and Recreation, $72,000; Capital Improvement, $25,000; and Fire Capital, $53,000. The largest planned transfer is $50,000 from the Fire Department Budget into Fire Capital to cover the payment for the new fire tanker being built.

The total for budgeted expenditures is $1,687,840.  The projected 2014 fund balance is $1,633,915.

Budgeted revenues are estimated to be up about $45,000, or 3 percent. Budgeted expenditures are down about $81,441, or 5 percent. The ending fund balance for 2014 will increase about 1 percent over 2013.

Board Chair Phil Osterhus summarized proposed expenditures. There were minor changes in the division of $5,000 in charitable contributions to Forest Lake YSB, Anoka County Mediation Services, Anoka Historical Society, and Alexandra House. He also commented that Linwood property taxes rank about fourth from the bottom of a list of metro communities.

Osterhus explained terms of the contract for the new tanker fire truck. The total cost is $450,000, with a down payment of $195,000. Annual transfers of $50,000 will be made from the Fire Department fund to the Capital Equipment fund to make the payments. This means payments can be made with no levy increases and without bonding.

Joe Dolphy, retired fire chief, questioned plans for re-painting and re-furbishing Engine 2. This is a second-response truck and he believes the $20,000 could be better spent on other equipment. Regarding the plan to change truck colors back to red as they are maintained, he believes the focus should be on safety and not necessarily on appearance.

The smallest part of the township budget, Parks and Recreation, drew more questions than others. Dolphy questioned the expense of irrigation in Boettcher Park, because it does not seem heavily used. Mike Halliday explained that residents have been surveyed about what they would like to see in the park. There has been a delay in development because “no plan has been presented to benefit the greatest number of people.”

Jim Garrison, member of the Park Board, said it would be hard to make cuts to the $61,000 budget, because about half of it is wages and benefits. The Linwood Community and School Forest is unique, “a jewel.” It is supported by fundraisers at Linwood Elementary.

The last hot topic was the general request for a website which is maintained as a functional updated resource. This may be a matter of prioritizing the task.  Rudi McCurdy typically works at this task as time permits from other assigned work. The clear message was that the website needs to be moved higher up on the list.

There was a reminder that the Linwood Fire Department is sponsoring a spaghetti dinner to benefit the Stankey Family. The benefit is scheduled from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday, April 13 at the Linwood Fire Hall. Tickets are $5. Children 5 and under are free.

The LFD Auxiliary will also sponsor a silent auction during the evening. All ticket receipts and profits from the silent auction are to benefit the Linwood family.  Contributions from individuals and businesses are welcome. Ballman referred all questions to Joe and Janet Dolphy at 651-462-4910.