Township sets budget of $1.38M for 2014

Gary W. Meyer
   The Big Lake Twp. Board approved a 2014 budget of $1,380,000 at their regular meeting Wednesday.
Budgeted income will only be $1,190,500, so the township will draw $169,500 from its cash reserves, a plan in which it also did to keep its tax levy level in 2013.
   Largest expenditures will be for the road fund, which is climbing due to excessive snow and salt-sanding during this winter. That fund will expect expenditures of $726,000, of which Treasurer Ken Warneke announced $254,000 has already been spent on winter road maintenance.
“Hopefully, it (the snow removal costs) will slow down in June, July,” he said. The board laughed.
   The board agreed to wait until their spring road tour to prioritize roads for reconstruction this summer.
   Warneke reported snow-salt-sand work in past years hasn’t been as expensive. In 2009, they paid $179,000; 2010, $146,000; 2011, $144,000; 2012, $96,000; and 2013, $209,000.
   The general fund will be $294,500; fire fund, $144,000; Bailey Cemetery, $4,000; ER Fire District, $25,000; fire debt service, $54,500; industrial park debt service, $61,000; and economic development fund, $49,000.
The township still has well over $1 million in its cash reserves fund.
   (See details on their 2015 approved tax levy in annual meeting coverage elsewhere in the Tribune this week.)
Relief Fund Up
   Ken Halvorson of the Big Lake Fire Dept. met with the board and secured approval to increase the Big Lake Fire Dept. fire relief fund allowance from $3,000 to $3,400 for retired firefighters for each year with over 20 years service.
The township and city provide $4,000 each to the fund each year. As well, the fund draws money from all property insurance premiums paid by residents each year.
   Halvorson said the fund was at 111% of needed levels, which is an outstanding level of security.
Two firefighters are expected to retire in the coming year.
CleanUp Day May 3
The township wasn’t happy with their later-May cleanup day in 2013, so they lobbied to move the day moved back to the first Saturday in May.
That will happen. The junk day drop will again occur at the township maintenance hall, for Big Lake and Orrock township and city residents. Hours will be from 9 to 3 p.m.
Clerk Laura Hayes reported their junk hauler, Republic (the former Allied Waste) will charge a little more for some items, but the resident rates will remain as in 2013.
She also reported the township is continuing to solicit a $14,546 SCORE grant to assist in paying for the day’s service.
In other action Wednesday, the township:
   * Heard a February activity report from Deputy Paul Behl of the county sheriff’s department. He reported 170 cases in the township, of which 34 were for traffic offenses. The rest were fairly routine matters;
* Agreed to relinquish their seat on the Northstar Corridor Development Authority, because of inactivity.


(From left) Lexi Freund (Big Lake), Betsey Cornelius and Ben Cornelius (Nowthen), Gunner Dorweiler and Colton Dorweiler (Princeton), Ben Manning (Zimmerman), Bailey Dorweiller (Princeton) and Salene Krueger (Big Lake.) The county fair runs from July 16-19. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Dr. Lola Sutherland is retiring from clinical practice after 33 years in the Big Lake community. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards.)

SMITTY’S AMATEUR FIDDLERS CONTEST drew 22 musicians to compete in Big Lake this year. They were accompanied by Gilmore Lee.

LEE GERHARDSON, 47, from New London, was found dead in Big Lake near the swimming beach in 10 feet of water Monday. Cause of death is unknown at this time but foul play is not suspected.

Adopt-a-Road participants volunteer for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and work to clean roadsides that border and bisect refuge land. This spring, from April to June, approximately six individuals, three families, and seven groups, such as boy and girl scouts and 4-H groups, volunteered to clean countless miles of roads. (Submitted photo.)