FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, MN – Despite his name not appearing on the ballot, former Franklin Township Supervisor Mike Barfknecht was elected back on to the board during Monday’s election, defeating incumbent Chair DeWayne Bauman by an unofficial count of 91 votes to 77 votes.
After Clerk/Treasurer Stephanie Russek announced the results at the annual meeting, moderator John Tackaberry and others wondered allowed if Barfknecht would accept the position.
Barfknecht confirmed to Russek after the meeting that he would return to the board.
He was first elected to the board in 2007. He filed for re-election in 2010, and was successful. In 2013, he did not file for re-election, but was elected as a write-in candidate. He did not run for re-election in 2016.
Bauman was first elected to the board in 2011, and was re-elected in 2014.
Levy and budget
Franklin Township residents will see the township’s levy decrease 5.8 percent, from $860,000 to $810,000, after the residents at the meeting unanimously approved the levy and a budget of $931,096 during Tuesday’s annual meeting.
Initially, the township was planning a levy of $860,000, but Supervisor Bill McMullen suggested budgeting only $50,000 for 40th Street – rather than the $100,000 in the original budget – with the knowledge that the township is eligible and applying for state funds because Crow Spring Park is located on the road. That grant application is due in November, so the earliest that project could be completed would be 2018.
While discussing the budget, it was noted that the township spent just $654,356 in 2016, despite a levy of $860,000, resulting in a closing balance of $1,630,851 at the end of 2016. Of the surplus, $121,096 will be included in the 2017 budget, for a total of $931,096.
The budget includes $145,700 in general fund spending, compared to $151,384 in 2016, with the difference largely due to the fact that there is no general election in 2017, Clerk/Treasurer Stephanie Russek said.
The road and bridge fund will increase from $270,177 to $373,200, due in part to more granite-hauling fees because the Delano location is no longer an option, $20,000 for the township’s portion of a box culvert being replaced on Meridian Avenue, and the township’s portion of a $30,000 guardrail on the north end of Farmington Avenue.
Dust control is budgeted at $100,000, compared to $108,906 in 2016.
Seal coating and bituminous is budgeted at $193,000, compared to $49,038 in 2016. Of that amount, $75,000 is set aside for a fog coat or seal coat on Farmington Avenue, and $50,000 is earmarked for 40th Street.
McMullen explained that a seal coat or fog coat will need to be applied to Farmington Avenue, which was reconstructed two years ago, to help preserve the integrity of the road.
“It’s an expensive road,” McMullen said. “Paved roads are not cheap.”
Tackaberry suggested that 40th Street – which is a double chip seal road – be returned to gravel.
Resident Huns Vanderlinde, who was a supervisor when the road was double chip sealed, said, “That road lasted longer than any road in the township.”
Supervisor John Czanstkowski said granite for the road would cost about $29,400, plus almost $2,000 annually for dust control, on top of maintenance costs.
Estimates for paving the road range from less than $100,000 to about $160,000 McMullen said.
A resident also noted almost 800 cars per day travel the road.
McMullen said it would be frugal to apply for state funding. Tackaberry suggested asking Rep. Joe McDonald (R-Delano) to “go to bat for us,” and McMullen agreed that would be a good idea.
The Farmington Avenue fund will increase from $42,964 in 2016, to $112,900.
“Last year, when we did the levy, we thought the first principal payment on Farmington Avenue would be due,” Russek said. “Just the interest was due.”
The vehicle budget will remain nearly unchanged at $31,506, compared to $31,886 in 2016.
Odds and ends
In other business, the township:
• approved the township’s donation of $7,376 annually for 2017 and 2018 to the Delano Area Senior Center, a 3 percent increase over the 2016 funding level. Resident Mary Ann Bernat made the motion, noting the township will save 3 percent in 2018 by locking in the donation amount now. Of the more than 3,130 individuals who utilized the senior center in 2016, 345 individuals – about 11 percent – were from Franklin Township, while the township’s donation makes up less than 4 percent of the approximate $200,000 budget.
• discussed the township’s solar ordinance, which bans large solar projects on the top four categories of agricultural land, limits projects to one power pole, requires 150 percent of the decommissioning cost to be in a bond or letter of credit, and caps the contract length at 25 years. Solar projects for personal use may be allowed on individuals’ properties with a process similar to approving an outbuilding, McMullen said.
• discussed internet service in the township. Russek said she spoke with Frontier Communications Area General Manager George Meskowski, who was scheduled for the March 6 township meeting but did not attend. Russek said Meskowski had been called away to deal with situations caused by high wind in Nebraska and Iowa. He told Russek he had learned that repeaters were not spaced correctly throughout the township and would be moved once frost is out of the ground. He also told Russek he has worked with customers who have contacted him, including waiving a $200 disconnect fee.
• with one resident opposed, approved a motion not to rent out the town hall.
• recognized 101-year-old resident June Sutton for her annual attendance at the annual meeting and shared a cake in honor of her 101st birthday, which she celebrated in June. She thanked the township for the surprise and said her parents would be proud to know how long she has lived.
• authorized the State Bank of Delano as the official bank depository and the town hall as the official place for posting notices.
• set the next annual meeting for 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, 2018, following the township supervisor election.