Baldwin Board sets preliminary levy

The Baldwin town board met to establish a 2014 budget proposal at a budget workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at the town hall.

The intention is to provide residents information as to what the board’s plan is for spending in 2014 and how the board came up with the proposed levy amount for 2014.

As part of an ongoing objective to improve accountability and transparency between the Baldwin town board and the citizens of Baldwin, a Powerpoint presentation is being planned for the annual meeting at 8:01 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12.

“The people are owed an explanation as to what we are planning to spend the money on,” said board chairman Jay Swanson.

All five members of the board agreed they would keep the proposed levy the same as 2013, the total levy amount being $894,000.

“I don’t think we can increase the levy. I don’t think it would be wise,”

Supervisor Kim Good said.

The 2014 levy will be approved by Baldwin township residents at the annual meeting.

The proposed budget is divided between six funds: road and bridge, general, fire department, debt service, park and capital improvement.

The road and bridge fund is by far the largest fund, claiming over half of the total levy. Of the $480,000 allocated to road and bridge, $100,000 is designated for crack sealing and general road repair, another portion is set aside for snowplowing and sanding. A good portion of the money will go towards the 112th Street project. There will also be some money left over to pull out some stumps, said Supervisor Larry Handshoe.

“I think we can stretch the road and bridge fund out,” said Good. “Taxes are high enough, especially for commercial property.

The next fund in order of dollar amount would be the general fund. This is the money it takes to keep the township lights on, so to speak. “We seem to be functioning pretty well as we are,” Good remarked. The 2013 levied amount for the general fund was $185,000.

Next is the fire department fund. Officially the Northeast Sherburne Fire and Rescue Department, the fire fund has been levied at $110,000 for 2013 and will be proposed to be the same amount for 2014. Expenses for the department are expected to remain stable.

The next fund is the debt services fund. The 2013 levied amount was over $87,000. This fund is likely to be reduced for 2014 because the fire hall has been paid in full. The savings from debt services is slated to go into the capital improvement fund.

The park fund amount for 2013 is set at $25,000. Most of this amount will go to install a pavilion at Young Park. Boardwalks are scheduled to be put in early spring and the pavilion will be up by May. Supervisor Tom Rush said the park board has made do with what they had to work with and they will continue to do so moving forward. The township has acquired a second park, Goose Lake Park.

Since this new property is mostly water, the board hopes to put up a boat rack of some sort. In addition, the county is requiring signage for Goose Lake Park.

The last fund is the capital improvement fund. The 2013 amount was $

6,268. As was mentioned, the savings from the debt services fund will be put into the capital improvement fund in order to be available for the bigger purchases of the township. “It is a small step in, I think, the right direction,” Good said.