Election, annual meeting set for March 12
The Franklin Township election and annual town meeting Tuesday, March 12, will give voters chances to impact their town government for the coming year.
In the election, Darin Orr is running unopposed for the Franklin Town Board. He is seeking the seat of Mike Barfknecht, who decided not to run this year. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Franklin Town Hall, 8735 County Road 16.
The township annual meeting will follow the election at about 8:15 p.m. At the meeting voters will approve the property tax levy that will fund the 2013 budget payable in 2014 taxes, Residents also will discuss township issues.
The Franklin Township budget proposed for 2013 amounts to expenditures of $865,900, down by 3.47 percent from the $899,200 budget approved in 2012. The proposed tax levy for taxes payable in 2014 is $841,000, up by 12.5 percent from the $749,200 tax levy for taxes payable in 2013.
Town Clerk Denise Olson explained that Franklin Township expected to draw $150,000 from its reserve fund to help pay expenses for the budget approved in 2012. This was the second year in a row that the township followed this strategy to keep property taxes down. An outside auditor told Olson that the township cannot continue to do this, so this year’s proposed budget shows a smaller withdrawal from reserves — $24,900. Fortunately, actual expenditures for 2012 amounted to $846,900, so the township needed to borrow only $97,700 from reserves.
This year’s budget also include’s the township’s first payment for purchasing a used road grader, Olson said. The township discovered that it would cost more to repair its 25-year-old grader than to replace it.
This newspaper contacted Darin Orr and asked him for biographical information and his reasons for running for the Franklin Town Board. Here are some highlights from the interview.
Orr and his wife Cyndi came to Franklin Township in 1992. They live on Brighton Avenue near the border between Delano and Montrose. They have been married for 22 years. Darin is originally from Arizona, and Cyndi is from Minnetonka.
The Orrs own horses, a hobby which is in keeping with Darin Orr’s business. He develops nutritional plans for horses of many types — family horses, race horses, dressage horses, rodeo horses, hunters and jumpers. He says 20 percent of Minnesota agriculture is based upon horses, yet it is a relatively unknown industry. Wright County is third in the United States in horses per capita, according to Orr.
His community involvement includes serving as a member of the Montrose Fire Department and volunteering with the Minnesota Patriot Guard, which gives honorary escorts to military personnel — living and dead — who are coming home.
Orr is running for the Franklin Town Board because “you need to be involved. If you want something protected, you have to do something about it,” he said.
He feels like he is at a point in his life where he has an understanding of Franklin Township and he wants to preserve that. His interest in the town government began when a dog kennel was proposed for the property next to his. His neighbors supported him as he opposed the application. Now he wants to give back, to support other township residents.
For example, he is concerned about people who want to operate home based businesses. Why restrict them? Why restrict the person who is starting out?
The Northwest Business Park that is coming into being in Delano has potential impacts for people operating small businesses in Franklin Township, Orr said, The business park is at the edge of the transition area between Delano and Franklin Township. Regulations for the area surrounding the business park could affect costs for starting up and operating small businesses.
Turning to the subject of the town budget, Orr said he wants to see Franklin Township continue to be fiscally conservative. The Town Board needs to decide what needs to be done and what expenditures need to be put off. The township needs to “live within its means” to help township residents and businesses live within their means, he said.
Orr also is concerned about the individual farmer whom he called “a good conserver of land.” If he does not do this, he will not have a crop. One year of not managing his property correctly will cost him “quite a bit of money.” Orr does not want to see additional restrictions placed upon farmers.