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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Village Pound Annual Christmas Parade Dec. 14

“If your taxes go up it’s not the fault of the people around this table!” Village of Pound Clerk/Treasurer Trish Schutte declared immediately after the Village Board unanimously adopted their budget for 2014 on Monday, Nov. 4. Expenditures and revenues are each up less than a full percent, and the property tax levied by the village remains exactly the same as last year, providing $115,773 toward the total budget of $396,713 up just $3,500 from last year.

In other business, the board enthusiastically discussed plans for the big Christmas Parade at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Clerk Schutte reported lineup will be on Crescent Lane, and the route will be the same as last year.

After the parade, everyone is invited to the Community Center for a social that will include a chili dump. There is no charge for admission. Santa will hopefully be a special guest, but Schutte said he still has to confirm. The evening will include lighting of the village Christmas tree. “In Memory Of” ornaments are on sale at the community center, with proceeds going to churches to benefit the needy.

The initial proposed budget had been presented by Clerk Schutte at the October board meeting. The board voted to have it published without change, but with the understanding that Village President Jay Martens would take the document home, study the figures and come back with recommendations on whatever changes he felt necessary for the budget hearing at the Nov. 4 meeting.

Martens said he had done some shuffling of line item allocations, but had made no changes in the total of expenses and revenues, or in the proposed levy. Other board members agreed the few changes he had made were good ones, and approved the budget and tax levy as presented.

Martens added $1,952 to the allocation for general government, mainly due to an increase in insurance rates and learning that Public Works Director Kevin Schutte must be provided with state retirement benefits. Budget for public safety was cut $852 from the proposed allocation, but at $63,548, remains 1.8 percent higher than last year. Public Works also was cut $3,300 from the proposed budget but remains about $2,000 above 2013. The budget for culture, parks and recreation was shaved by $2,800, but still remains at the amount actually spent last year.

Kevin Schutte said he has had a lot of complaints about the condition of Walker Street, and some residents there have been asking for curb and gutter. He said it has so many pot holes they might have to grind it up and go to gravel. Martens said Maple Street needs attention before Walker, but added they need to either start borrowing again (which he wants to avoid) or put money away so they can afford to start some repairs in a year or so. Trustee Mary Meyer said they also need to look into street improvement grant possibilities.

Martens included $5,000 to be put into the Capital Expenditures Account in preparation for improvements in future years.

Kevin Schutte said the fire department is running out of room and will need to start adding on soon. He said they need to add a wash bay, and Martens asked if he knew what that would cost. Schutte said they would just need a cement floor with a drain in it, and then could use that area to wash fire trucks and his garbage truck.

Fire Chief Turner Gross said his department plans some major fund raisers in the coming year.

Schutte said the picnic this year set new records, when events all over the county were down. Martens commented the fire department raffle also has done well during its first two years.

Discussion of the discovery that Kevin Schutte must go into the state retirement system meant some unplanned expenses for the Schuttes as well as the village, since each pay half. Clerk Schutte said that policy had been set by the village board in office perhaps 25 years ago. Martens and Trustee Wayne Gross said there are other plans that could provide retirement benefits for village employees, and Clerk Schutte said she will need to find out how they can get out of the Wisconsin Retirement system. Gross said the school went through this recently, and learned it is not a requirement. Teaching staff stayed with the state, but the support staff did not.

“For your sake and everybody else’s, find out what the options are,” Trustee Meyer advised Clerk Schutte. “There might be something out there that you would like better.”

That discussion led to a recommendation by Martens that the village start work on an employee handbook so benefits, work rules, etc. will be spelled out for the current board and whoever comes after them. Martens said he has had several calls on policy questions, and has no manual to refer to, and the retirement benefit relates to that.

Other board members agreed. Meyer suggested collecting policy manuals from similar villages before they get started. After information is collected there will be a special board meeting.

Mel Gross reported on NIMS training for firefighters and preparing for emergency situations. He said that will fit right in with the policy manual, as NIMS includes assigning duties to village officials and employees in case of emergencies. An NWTC instructor will assist in the planning.

Chief Gross said the siren now is ready to sound if an emergency does happen.

At the start of the meeting Kevin Schutte reported on some problems with one of the vehicles, and described repairs that have been suggested. Martens, whose profession is vehicle and equipment repair, asked Gross to check it out with him, and instructed Schutte to do nothing further until they do that.

Schutte reported he has cleaned out the ditch near the Christian Life Center. One piece of it is still plugged, but the water level from recent rains dropped about 200 to 300 gallons a day, Schutte said, but it still had about six inches of water. He planned to try to get to the final piece yet this fall, but Martens suggested waiting until next year for budget reasons. Schutte, in response to questions, said the DNR had no problem with the ditch cleaning, “everything was legal.”

Fire Chief Gross reported that during the the past month the department had three calls for carbon monoxide. Their meeting in October, with 18 members present, started with a reception for Georgia Pacific’s Public Affairs Manager Mike Kawleski and Randy Harbath, vice president of manufacturing, who presented a $10,000 check from their firm’s “Bucket Brigade” program.

Other donations for the month were $100 from Pound Woman’s Club and $200 from Willard and Earlina Carlton.

One new member joined the department and has all his training already, Gross said.


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