Wakefield Township OKs 2021-2022 budget


WAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP – Members of the Wakefield Township Board of Trustees voted Tuesday evening to approve their 2021-22 fiscal budget of nearly $240,000. The unanimous vote included 4.63 supporting mills, which translates to $46.30 per $1,000 of assessed market value or $2,315 annually for a house valued at $50,000.

A public hearing on the budget was held at the start of the virtual meeting and drew no criticism. According to Supervisor Mandy Lake, total expected income for the coming fiscal year – which begins on April 1 and ends on March 31, 2022 – is expected to be $238,230. The largest income sources are estimated as follows: $135,000 in property taxes, $26,000 in stateshared revenue, $24,070 from charges relating to a Merit Network, Inc. internet account, and $5,400 in “PILT” funds. The state defines PILT funds as payments in lieu of taxes, and it distributes them to local governments instead of property taxes for state land run by the Department of Natural Resources. Lake said total expenses in the coming fiscal year are estimated at $237,188. Among the largest expenses are base wages totaling about $75,000, including $17,627 each for the supervisor, Clerk Jennifer Ahonen and Treasurer Denice Laessig, plus additional smaller amounts for other parttime, contract and seasonal labor. Trustees Michael Heikkila and Robert Drier each will earn $3,537.

The township also will pay a total of $34,867 for five city contracts that allow the township to receive services relating to street lights, fire protection, cemetery use, parks and recreation, and the library. Another $30,000 is earmarked for roads, $8,000 for refuse collection, and $24,070 for a Merit internet fee. “I think we did a good job with our budget,” said Lake. “It’s a good starting budget for the year,” Ahonen said. Lake said the township property as a whole also resulted with a state-equalized (or assessed) valuation of $41,794,943 and a taxable value of $33,593,268. She said the township will continue to maintain enough of a fund balance to cover two years of expenditures in case of an emergency.

The supervisor also noted that there will be no increase in fees for building permits or garbage collection. In separate votes, the board also approved individual salary resolutions for board members, as well as travel and education costs for board attendance at conferences. Members also voted to accept a fund balance commitment of $200,000 for roads and $100,000 for economic commitment. In other news, Lake reported that goals for the coming year include

Phase II of the township’s continuing internet expansion – which hopefully will include the southern and eastern areas, if funds allow – and an updated workspace within the township hall.

The board also: – Voted to approve First National Bank of Wakefield, Gogebic Range Bank of Ironwood, and IncredibleBank of Ironwood as the township’s banks of record.

–Voted to approve the next year’s meeting schedule, which includes regular meeting dates of the first Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m.

–Voted to approve the Wakefield News/Bessemer Pick and Axe as the township’s newspaper of record. –Voted to approve that all five board members will attend a virtual April 1 pipeline training designed to educate them regarding the various pipelines running through the township.

–Voted to approve Shelley Nordine as a new Board of Review member. The board’s next regular meeting will be on April 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the township hall. Masks and social distancing will be required, and no more than 25 people can attend, per a new state mandate in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.