Monthly Archives: March 2019
PINE COUNTY TOWNSHIP OFFICERS’ ASSOCIATION MEETING SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 2019
The Spring Meeting of the Pine County Township Officer’s Association was held on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at the Hinckley American Legion Hall. The meeting was called to order by Chair Katy Overtoom at 9:00 a.m. The Pledge of Allegiance was led Chair Katy Overtoom. The Invocation was provided by Katy Overtoom.
Roll call was taken with 26 townships present, establishing a quorum.
Motion made and seconded to approve the minutes from the Spring Meeting, Saturday, October 28, 2018 read by Secretary/Treasurer Glen Williamson.
Jason Rarick, State Senator MN District 11. There were problems and concerns with the extraordinary special primaries and elections for Tony Lourey’s Senate seat and Jason’s house seat when he was elected Senator. Some mail-in ballots didn’t get to the courthouse on time with the short window. He is asking for more money for township broadband internet and cell-phone service beyond the one-time grants to include bonding like with road and bridge and transportation bonding. He’s working with the Rural Transportation Bill to increase the share small cities and townships get; now we get only 5% of the gas tax although we have 40% of the roads in the state. He said there is more talk about the NXL Railroad funding but the legislators can’t control the outcome once money is designated to an agency. He opposes the $.20 gas tax increase since it adversely affects rural drivers with longer distances and older vehicles. It’s supposed to go into the transportation fund but can be diverted to transit. He supports a designated sales tax for transportation. Powerball funds can’t be used for roads or other purposes than what it’s designated for. One idea is tracking drivers with GPS and charging by miles driven.
Steve Hallan, District 1 commissioner. Asked for prayers for those suffering in the Nebraska/Iowa floods. Said the commissioners are also focused on bringing broadband to townships. He supports a gas-tax increase and wants more to go to townships. New county building in Sandstone is coming along and the next County/township commissioners meeting might be there. County is understaffed and have to do more with less. There are six openings for jailers, a good paying job with a retirement program that only requires a high-school diploma. Out-of-home placements are hurting the budget with over 100 kids in placements, and it’s also a social problem. Kids have to have somewhere to go. Road projects include redoing the highway 70 overpass and bridge and also the Walmart exit and road to re-engineer the roads for better visibility of oncoming cars. Want to replace the big box culverts in Willow River but hung up with permits to work in the river bed. Some towns want to give the county some of their roads; they can’t take any more except with a swap.
Josh Mohr, District 2 Commissioner and county chair. The special primaries and elections hit towns and the county pretty hard. It cost the county $18,000; $12,000 for ballots alone plus overtime and it cost many towns $1,000 per election. He wants the state to come up with a better way to handle these special elections, perhaps with mail ballots. Mohr testified at the capitol for Rarick’s bill for a fairer share of the casino taxes. Rarick wants the county’s share doubled.
Jeff Nelson, County Sheriff: Drug use is still a big concern in the county, mostly with meth, but also heroin and opioids. This affects all county agencies; they want to steer people in the right direction. The jail program tries to rehab and redirect offenders.
Kelly Schroeder, New County Auditor/Treasurer. The 2020 elections are only a year away. One big change will be a state-wide March Presidential primary election, as well as the August primary. The legislative language is unclear about primaries; they now require up to four separate ballots, for each party instead of putting all offices on one ballot. There’s a bill to allow one ballot and to make the Presidential Primary a mail ballot election. The 16,000 mail ballots would still be cheaper than polling places. She talked about how tax for land and timber sales trickles down to townships. The County Forester is doing an inventory of county land for a plan for the timber harvest. Property tax assessments are going out this week; township levies are going down but county levies are going up. Big push for recycling programs with 11 sites for recycling sheds run by PHASE, and they found a site for the Willow River transfer station north of Willow River that will take garbage and tires and mattresses and recyclables 3 days a week. They want to make this a pilot project in General Andrews Station for garbage and recyclables, since half of the people in the county do not have any garbage service so they burn it or dump their garbage.
County-wide Zoning: Still only opt-in but they are almost ready to release it and there will be big public meetings when it is released.
Lorri Houtsma, New County Assessor. Boards of Appeal start April 8. She distributed land values schedules for 2020. Most people will have an uptick in values, mostly in high-ground tillable land. There is online assessor training in July for Supervisors. Open-book boards of appeal give people more time to appeal their assessments, up until June.
Jordan Zeller, ECRDC said economic development creates jobs and grows the local tax base. They’ve started an inventors and entrepreneurs club to help inventors get patents and create more businesses to hire more people. Check the ecmnbusiness.com website for updates. They will meet monthly in Braham. ECRDC has a small business revolving loan fund to buy equipment and start businesses. If someone can’t get full funding they will loan $30,000 and take the second position to the bank. Four loans are out now at good interest rates. They support the MN Rural Broadband Coalition for internet and have a day on the Hill on April 3rd.
Katie Draper, Director of Govt. Affairs for Mille Lacs Band Ojibwe: The band has 16,000 acres with 4,700 members, 609 in Pine County. There are six Minnesota Chippewa tribes. They have 750 full time employees in 30 businesses and operate public works, clinics, schools, and entertainment events. District 3 is east of Hinckley in Pine County. They have a new community center by the casino with a gym and track open to the public. The tribe pays $125,000 in property taxes on 50 million in assets.
Miranda Janssen, Rep for 8th District Congressman Pete Stauber: Need to get the federal mileage rate or a fair parity rate for volunteer drivers. Stauber is working on the transportation bill and the Rural Broadband Coalition.
Ben Weiner, Veterans Services: The VA is the second largest bureaucracy in government. They bring millions to veterans services for education and services.
Motion made and seconded to approve the Treasurer’s report by Secretary/Treasurer, Glen Williamson, Sr.
Election of Two Replacement Board Members: Two Executive Board members, Susan Grill (Kettle River Township) and Robert Sunstrom (Ogema Township) were re-elected by unanimous ballot for three-year terms. Next county township officers meeting October 26, 2019, 4th Saturday at the American Legion in Hinckley.
Motion made, seconded, and approved to adjourn at 10:25 am.
Respectively submitted by
Glen Williamson Sr.
Pine County Township Officer’s Association
The Fall Meeting of the Pine County Township Officer’s Association was held on Saturday, October 27, 2018, at the Hinckley American Legion Hall. The meeting was called to order by Chair Katy Overtoom at 9:00 a.m. The Pledge of Allegiance was led Chair Katy Overtoom. The Invocation was provided by Katy Overtoom.
Roll call was taken with 21 townships present, establishing a quorum.
Motion made and seconded to approve the minutes from the Spring Meeting, Saturday, March 24, 2018.
We had several speakers:
State Senator, District 11, Tony Lourey said that the last session virtually nothing got done at the state legislature. However, they did get a bonding bill passed. He is looking forward to the legislature fostering a civil, fact-based dialogue between the parties.
Tim Burkhardt, Candidate, District 11B lives in Hinckley and served three terms on the city council. He’s also a Regional 5 director for the MN Association of Small Cities. He talked about his background and why he’s running for State Representative.
State Representative, District 11B, Jason Rarick said if a fiber optic company is using state and federal money to expand, they should allow companies to access the services that’s on their route. He talked about many issues, including the fact that townships have more roads than the state. He went on to say that he and Tony Lourey work well together. He answered many questions about internet connectivity.
Matt Ludwig, County Commissioner, District 5 said he’s been on the board since 2013. He talked about the drug epidemic and that there are 100 kids in out placement. There is $1.8 million dollars for Heath and Human Services. The county added probation officers and a new court room. There was also a $630,000 increase in wages and benefits this year over last year.
Reese Fredrickson, County Attorney talked about the military and his time in the Air Force. He talked about military veterans that have got caught up in the criminal system and how he helps to divert them. They are setting up a regional veteran treatment court to serve Pine, Isanti, Chisago and Kanabec Counties. They are also looking for mentors for veterans. Last year was a record year for bookings and this year is about the same.
County Sheriff, Jeff Nelson said he’s been sheriff for four years now. He stated that overall the community feels good about what the department has accomplished. He talked about the Drug Task Force and what they have done.
Kelly Schroeder, County Land Services Director that Land Services have a lot going on. The county has added many recycling sheds and they will staff and new site near Willow River/Rutledge area. Kelly talked about zoning initiative, the draft ordinance and that it will be an opt-in program. She distributed flyers about the Pine County Zoning Initiative public meetings, Board of Equalization dates, culvert workshops and who is trained to be on the Board of Equation.
Karen Amundson, ECRDC Community Development Planner is putting together a Regional Development Transportation Committee. She talked about the different planning states and how we could help with transportation.
Leah Kampa and Dustie Speldrich, DNR Conservation Officers from the northern part of Pine County said we don’t have Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in our county. However, they do in Aitkin and a couple others. They went on to describe the symptoms of CWD. If you’re involved in a car – deer kill, any police officer can give you a permit to keep the carcass. They went on to say that trespassing is huge in this county. To avoid trespassers, you must post signs at all entrances and back sides of your property, every 500 feet.
Rick Olseen, Field Representative for Congressman Rick Nolan said he’s on a farewell tour because Congressman Nolan is retiring and so he’ll be out of a job, January 2, 2019. He said that Congressman Nolan has a bill that would give those that volunteer for non-profit organizations the same rate as the federal mileage rate. He talked about many issues including that there is a Rural Broadband Coalition, and that as an organization that we may want to join. He noted that 10% of the American economy is transported through the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Tim Fisher, MAT, District 10 Director and MAT new Executive Director David Hann came instead of Michael Miller, District 7 Director who had to be at his regular job. Halm said that he served on the state legislature for 14 years. Even though he never lived in a township, while in the legislature, he stated he represented the interest of all Minnesotans. He went on to state that many in the legislature are unaware about townships, but he plans on educating them. He also talked about broadband and his work with the fire department.
Skip Thompson, Candidate for Pine County Commissioner, District 5 said he wants to sell tax forfeited land. He talked about county wide zoning and what the cost would be.
Motion made and seconded to approve the Treasurer’s report.
Susan Grill from Kettle River Township was elected to fill the vacancy until March 2019 on the Executive Board, vacated by Roberta Folkestad, Royalton Township. Dan O’Flanagan, Dell Grove township was elected to fill the vacancy until March 2020 on the Executive Board, vacated by Dave Baker, New Dosey Township.
Motion made, seconded and pass to keep rolls in the morning, but discontinue lunch starting March 23, 2019.
Motion made, seconded, and approved to adjourn at 11:15 am.
Respectively submitted by
Glen Williamson Sr.
Pine County Township Officers Association