By Jan Lee Buxengard
Special to the Argus
Greg Myhre volunteered to be moderator for the Wilmington Township annual meeting held Tuesday, March 9 at 4 p.m. at the town hall. In attendance were eight township residents, board member Todd Olerud on the phone, and also Lonnie Tweeten, representing the Houston County Fair/Agricultural Society.
Clerk/treasurer Melissa Schroeder presented the financial report for 2020, showing a beginning checking account balance of $160,972.98 and ending balance of $178,380.79.
Wilmington Township has 38.626 miles of roads, the second highest number of miles in Houston County. Black Hammer Township is number one with 39.260 miles of township roads. Wilmington Township has 41 named roads.
In 2020, the road and bridge fund received no government grants or aids funds. Cost of general blading, rocking, brush cutting and ditch cleaning amounted to more than $192,000. The year ended with a negative balance of $4,794.42 in the account.
Chloride for township residents was discussed. It has been an ongoing concern by many residents of why county roads receive chloride with no charge to the residents, but township roads must be paid by the residents/township. County Commissioner Myhre relayed that he would keep bringing the matter up at county meetings. Currently Wilmington Township pays the first $50, while the remainder is the resident’s responsibility.
Supervisor Wes Lapham gave the road and bridge report. According to the county engineer, for the five-year bridge replacement schedule, there are funds available to replace four bridges in the township, namely two on Wiebke Hill Road ($384,000 each), one on Oakland Drive ($644,000), and one on Sylling Road ($410,000). The township’s responsibility would be $20,000 for each bridge, for a total of $80,000.
With not much snowfall this season, plowing costs would be less. There was some tree and brush clearing, and ditch cleaning done, and culverts replaced. Cost of road rock was $75,000. The township board will be conducting an annual road inspection next month.
On a related matter, the township will apply for State of Minnesota grant funds for local road improvement projects. If successful, the funds would be used to improve Nine Oaks Drive.
The proposed tax levy for 2020 was approved at $226,000, a 2.7 percent increase from $220,000 the previous year. The board was given discretion as needed to transfer up to $100,000 from the General Fund to the Road and Bridge Fund for one year and then revisit the matter at the next annual meeting.
Fire, ambulance and garbage collection are fixed costs each year.
“We have been good to watch our expenses and have done a good job, but we can’t predict the weather or the government,” stated Clerk/Treasurer Melissa Schroeder.
In other business
For fire and ambulance services, Houston County State Aid Highway #28 and Church Rd. divide the township, with Caledonia and Eitzen providing services east of the highway/road, and Spring Grove providing services to the west. These emergency services work well together to provide mutual aid as needed.
No change was made in the policy for dust-control chloride on township roads. Bounty for pocket gophers will remain at $2.50 per pair of front feet.
Approval was given to donate $750 to the Houston County Agricultural Society to be used for general maintenance.
The 2022 annual meeting will be held on Tues., March 8 at the Town Hall, with election polls open 5-8 p.m. and the meeting to follow immediately after counting the votes.
There was a total of 14 township residents who cast ballots in the election following the meeting. All votes elected Wes Lapham as Chairman for a three-year term, and Todd Olerud to a two-year term as supervisor. Other board members include Melissa Schroeder Clerk/Treasurer and Supervisor Don Landsom.