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

By Staff Report
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Road concerns raised in Windemere

Advisory citizens committee proposed

 

November 15, 2018



Based on recommendations from the township’s first ever audit, the Windemere Township Board of Supervisors agreed to move $400,000 from the general fund to the township’s investment portfolio for better interest earnings. Treasurer Ron Mossberg reported a balance at the end of October of $2.67 million, a million of which is in checking, he said. Councilor John Wesely abstained.

Mossberg noted the auditors also recommended that two accounts be moved to the general fund for tracking, the Fire Fund with a balance of $216,000 and the Environmental Fund, with a balance of $36,000. He said the large balance would grow even more due to the upcoming deposit of the second half of the year’s levy, approximately $325,000. Mossberg said that Quickbooks makes it easy to track the various subaccounts within the general fund and actually makes the tracking easier than is currently done.

Other audit recommendations, some of which are already being addressed or have been addressed but are buried in the minutes of previous meetings, included having the clerk see everything first regarding disbursements, reviewing payroll, having a secure mailbox, adopting formal budgets and preparing annual financial statements, verifying receipts, having monthly financial reporting include budget comparisons and bank reconciliation, and adopting policies and procedures for items such as segregation of duties, internal control procedures, personnel, capital assets, fund balance, conflict of interest, purchasing limits, credit card usage, and inventory controls.

Mossberg pointed out that nothing material was found in the audit, and that the money has been managed well.

Wesely suggested prioritizing the recommendations. Another suggestion was to tackle some of the recommendations in a special meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday, November 27, at 6 p.m. at the town hall.

Advisory committee proposed

Board chair Pete Steen brought up the possibility of having an advisory committee report to the township board, a group of citizens to look at the efficiency of the township’s governance.

“The township is operating, but is it operating as good as it can be?” Steen asked. Are the ordinances up-to-date, he said.

Supervisor Dale Kirkeby asked about who would make up the committee.

Steen said he thought the committee should be comprised of representatives from various sectors and that the committee meetings would be open to the public for transparency.

Steen entertained questions and suggestions regarding how many would be on the committee and how the members would be chosen. Discussion also included similarities between the proposed committee and the planning commission that developed the comprehensive plan.

Steen said an advisory committee could assist with the formulation of the policies and procedures recommended by the audit.

One resident, in open forum, said the committee was “a good idea on one hand but abdicating responsibility on the other,” adding, “I’m hearing you need an administrator ... This is growing pains.”

The township board agreed to look at the advisory committee idea again next month.

Roads discussed

Township roads were discussed at length during the meeting. Concerns were stated during open forum regarding the Sturgeon Island bridge and the approach to the bridge being “beyond patching”.

Potholes were noted on township roads by residents, and it was stated by Steen that a contract was awarded to an asphalt company in August but work has been hung up due to weather. Some roads are slated for work in 2019.

One resident asked if the township had the construction documents for the work on Palon Road, which has had work suspended for a period due to weather. It was also stated there appear to be soft spots affecting the work on Palon Road. It was stated those documents are being collected by Erickson Engineering.

Another resident said he could not find the results of the 2018 road review on the township website.

A resident said a road project behind Rush and Military roads has not yet been completed, and signs are still needing to be properly posted.

The town board approved looking into a Department of Public Safety speed study for Sturgeon Island Road. Residents feel the speed is too high for the road. Supervisors hesitated to approve a study because the results are binding, even if the study recommended a higher speed limit than the 40 mph currently posted.

The township is working with the county to lower and install the Balsam Road culverts.

A township supervisor stated a new road maintenance worker, Kole Milczark, was hired to begin November 1.

Flood insurance to be researched

Supervisor Steen agreed to research what the National Flood Insurance Program can offer residents. Initially not interested in the program, supervisors listened to feedback from residents who spoke of their concerns for those living on Island Lake and near the Balsam Road culverts. Steen said he would get more information since there are people it would affect. According to a letter from FEMA, Windemere Township is not a participant in the program.

Other business

An old-fashioned Christmas party for the township was set for 2-4 p.m. on December 15 at Windemere Town Hall, 91546 Military Road, Sturgeon Lake.

The strategic plan recommendations will be reviewed by the planning commission at 6:30 p.m. on January 8 at the town hall.

Byron Kuster was reappointed to a four-year term on the Moose Lake Windemere Sanitary Sewer District board.

A resident living just outside the fire district requested Windemere Township be included in both Sturgeon Lake and Moose Lake fire districts. He said he was told by his insurance company the designation would lower his insurance rates if both departments were allowed to come.

The township website noted a special meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday, November 18, to discuss the Palon Road project.

 

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