Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Shawn Jansen
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

No external audit for Windemere

 


The Windemere Township board will not be requesting an external audit. The request was voted down, 15 for and 17 against, at the township’s annual meeting Tuesday, March 8.

The township approved a 5 percent increase to the road and bridge fund, while all other levies remained the same. The funds approved this year will be available in 2017.

“Our main objective is to improve roads and bridges over the next few years,” said supervisor Abe Mach.

Chair Heidi Kroening explained the township was trying to be proactive when asked about the budget surplus. The cost to upgrade Palon Road is estimated to be between $500,000-750,000 because the base needs a lot of work and the road needs to be widened for shoulders.

Hospital district

Mercy Hospital CEO Michael Delfs reported to the township about the hospital and the hospital district levy. Delfs noted the levy is approximately $500,000. With that aid, the cost cutting and the increase in services, the hospital ended the year about $60,000 in the hole.

Delfs said, “The end goal is to cut back on the tax levy.” He outlined the actions taken by the hospital to cut back on costs: employing fewer staff, restructuring the dietary department and contracting out the nursing home were some of the measures. Delfs said, although there has been progress in the right direction, he thought the levy would still be needed for a while yet. The levy is approved on a yearly basis.

One resident asked, “How does this help the community when you raise taxes and cut hours?”

Delfs replied that it keeps the services local. He explained that Blue Cross/Blue Shield cut payments to hospitals, adding to the budget crunch.

He said the hospital takes a loss on providing home health care services, but because it is an important part of the business, they continue to provide it.

Sewer district

Henry Gretsfeld, member of the Moose Lake Windemere Area Sanitary Sewer District board, provided an update to the township. He said the city of Moose Lake raised its water treatment fees. He didn’t know how much the increase will be for the district as the district continues to negotiate with the city over the proposed fees and changes to the contract. The increase is due to additional debt service for repairs to the pond system and lift stations to accommodate changes in the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency regulations.

For 2016, Gretsfeld reported the levy is $86,684, and the monthly user fee is $60 per unit.

He said the district was formed in 1974 to provide sewer to Sand, Island and Sturgeon lakes but Sand Lake is the only one with sewer so far.

Other business

Peter Steen took 99 votes against Terry Schumann’s 43 for supervisor, and Nancy Hedin took 132 votes for clerk out of 142 votes cast.

The regular monthly meetings for Windemere Township remain at 6:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month.

The annual meeting shall commence at 8:30 p.m. after polls are open 1-8 p.m. to allow judges time to count ballots prior to the meeting.

The attendees discussed the possibility of videotaping regular meetings but no action was taken.

 

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