The meeting was called to order at 2:00 pm. All Town Board members and the the Clerk were in attendance. Chris Clasen from the audit firm of Clasen Stegner & Schiessel, LTD was also present.
Clasen presented a summary document of the audit findings. He pronounced the audit found no significant issues and that the Township’s financial records to be organized, available, and complete. As a town of less than 2500 population, the Township can use the cash basis of accounting and under that standard, the auditors were able to declare a clean opinion. The financial report has been submitted to the state auditor’s office. The Financial Statements and Independent Auditor’s Report document was reviewed along with the Communications Letter prepared by the auditors.
A discussion of audit findings took place including material weaknesses & significant deficiencies that are typical for towns with limited staff. One item of legal compliance noted was that Township funds were used to pay for a staff holiday gathering. Clasen also recommended establishing a capitalization policy to set a threshold over which expenditures would be considered to be capital outlay.
The Clerk presented a draft Board of Audit Report for review including documents showing Township tax levy analysis since 2004 and the property tax settlements received from the county for levy year 2019.
A discussion took place regarding the budgeting for 2020 including possible expenditure for an electronic message sign to be placed next to County Road 16. Supervisor Ommen had met with a vendor and has initiated the planning & estimate process for the sign. The sign would enable the Township to display messages including firefighter recruitment and upcoming events. Messages could also be sold to organizations or businesses in the area.
The Clerk presented current budget reports that are updated to match the 2020 levy amounts, but other budget amounts are carried over as were set for 2019. Peterson said the budget amounts seem to be ok as is.
Chief Birkeland arrived at 3:00 pm and presented plans for changes in training, drills, and meetings for the department. He also discussed how the changes could help with recruitment efforts and outlined ways the department could present a professional image and be more visible in the community. He talked about the commitment required for firefighters and their families and the importance of recognizing the role that spouses play in getting & keeping members. Birkeland pointed out ways the Township could further demonstrate the Township’s respect and appreciation for members including compensation and by providing clothing & proper dress uniforms to be used for public appearances. Peterson asked for a proposal with details to address these ideas so the Board can consider approval. Some of the ideas would require an update to the department bylaws.
A discussion took place regarding the Relief Association benefit level, its effect on recruitment in comparison to neighboring departments, and a plan to increase the level over the next few years. Peterson presented an analysis of current and projected costs with a couple different plans and its effect on the levy. He pointed out that the Township seemed to be at a point where the Board must decide whether to continue investment in the department or to let it fade away. He said that losing the department would have a significant effect on insurance costs to residents. He also said the department is a point of pride for the community that should be maintained.
Chief Birkeland completed his presentation and left the meeting at 4:00 pm.
Discussion took place regarding the proposed levy for 2021 to be approved at the Annual Meeting. Chairman Peterson reviewed the budget as discussed at the January 6th Special Meeting. Motion by Peterson, second by Bilek to set the proposed 2021 levy total at $1,202,000 – representing a 17.2% increase over 2020 - with the following breakdown:
o General Fund (100) $185,000
o Road & Bridge (201) $225,000
o Road Construction (210) $265,000
o Fire Department (250) $315,000
o Parks (280) $5,000
o Recycling (290) $5,000
o Capital Projects (401) $190,000
o Transfer Station (603) $12,000
o Total $1,202,000
The discussion turned to personnel and office procedure issues including the Clerk’s resignation. Motion by Peterson, second by Ommen to accept the Clerk’s resignation effective April 10. Carried unanimously.
Peterson gave information about people who are interested in the position and one who could provide temporary help. Discussion included possible options for outsourcing some of the work and possibility of the Clerk providing consultation after his resignation.
Peterson suggested that the Board have weekly special meetings to assist during the transition to the new Clerk. The members agreed and set the first meeting for Friday March 13 at 10:00 am.
Supervisor Ommen left the meeting at 4:30 pm.
The meeting continued with an interview of an applicant for the Transfer Station Attendant position.
There being no further business to conduct, the meeting adjourned at 4:50 p m.
Ideal Township Clerk-Treasurer
March 6th, 2020