By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE, BERGEN TOWNSHIP, MN The future of Bergen Township’s current rented storage space is in question, and the township board is looking for direction on how residents would like to move forward.
Possibilities include renting a different storage location, purchasing a shed, constructing a new storage space/meeting hall, selling the equipment, or any other ideas people may have.
Citizens are encouraged to share their input at a special meeting Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Bergen Township Hall (16595 Babcock Ave., Lester Prairie).
“We really want to hear what people’s thoughts are on it,” Clerk Amy Meyer said.
A bit of background
For the past 23 years, Bergen Township has stored its grader and snowplow in two rented stalls from McLeod County’s 60-year-old storage shed on the east side of Lester Prairie, at Highway 9 and Highway 23. The cost to rent from the county has been $250 per month, plus about $40 per month in utilities.
“What’s happening now is that the county is building a new shed,” Meyer said, explaining that it’s possible the old shed will no longer be available for the township to rent in the future.
The county will not have room in its new shed for the township’s equipment, because if the size were increased, a sprinkler system would have been required, she added.
Mice and meetings
While researching storage options, township officials have also been considering the future of Bergen Township Hall, which is more than 100 years old.
Meyer said animals often get into the hall, and mice burrowed in some of the old documents stored there.
Another issue is climate control. Because the hall is not a stable temperature, the township’s election equipment is kept at Meyer’s residence.
New construction costs
If the township were to build a 60-by-60-foot shed with a 24-by-30-foot meeting room, the total cost (including a well, septic tank, and land acquisition) is estimated at $387,000. Borrowing $387,000 at 4 percent interest would result in an interest charge of $1,300 per month.
According to the township’s August newsletter, land for building a new town hall is available from David Anderson at a price of $25,000 per acre.
Another option the township has discussed is selling its equipment, eliminating the need for a storage building. As of July 1, the township’s 1999 truck and plow wing are valued at $40,000. Its 2003 grader is valued at $75,000 to $100,000, and its reclaiming disc is valued at $3,500.
Currently, the township maintains 42 miles of road with an on-call maintenance operator who is paid $20 per hour (rate rises to $30 per hour on holidays between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28). The township paid the operator a total of $7,230 in 2011, and a total of $6,035 in 2012. Anyone interested in being a backup for plowing or grading is encouraged to contact a township supervisor.
If the township were to sell its equipment, an outside company would need to be hired. Klehr Grading and Excavating gave the township an estimated grading cost of $88 per hour, and snowplowing cost of $118 per hour.
McLeod County’s estimated rates were higher, with grading costs of $110 per hour plus worker’s wages, and snowplowing costs of $135 per hour plus worker’s wages. Costs may increase on weekends.
Share your thoughts
The Sept. 10 meeting is a reconvening of the annual meeting that took place in March, which included discussion of the 2014 levy.
“If we want to increase the levy, this meeting is the very last opportunity,” Meyer said, explaining that if residents want a new township hall/shed in the near future, the levy would need to reflect that addition.
Anyone who cannot attend the meeting but has a question or concern should contact township chair Francis Burch at (320) 395-2375, supervisor Sheldon Ehrke at (320) 395-2344, or supervisor Albert (Sonny) Teubert at (320) 864-6028.