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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town Peshtigo 2014 Tax Rates is Down Slightly

The 11 electors at the Town of Peshtigo Budget meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19 (most of them town officials) readily passed the town tax levy of $244,440 to support the budget for 2014 as proposed. This means a tax rate of about 77.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, slightly lower than last year, according to Vilas Schroeder, Town Treasurer.

Schroeder said he believes his estimate of the tax rate will prove to be “pretty close.” Owner of a property valued at $100,000 will pay $77.50 in 2014 for services the town provides. Taxes for school, county, the State of Wisconsin and NWTC are included in the tax bills that will go out in December.

“If you like this budget, we have an open seat on the board,” Town Chair Herman Pottratz invited. The vacancy was created by the death of Supervisor 4 Pat Ravet, whose term would have expired in April of 2014. The board chose to leave Ravet’s seat vacant until the spring elections. Supervisor 3 Denise Wiedemeier, whose term also expires in April, is expected to seek re-election. Nomination papers may be circulated by any interested candidates beginning Dec. 1.

The other invitation issued at the meeting was to all town residents, for a pot luck town Christmas party immediately following the 7 p.m. board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 17. Reservations can be made with Assistant Clerk Cindy Hagert at 715-582-4332, but Clerk Clarence Coble said reservations aren’t necessary. “Just bring yourself and a dish to pass,” he suggested.

Pottratz reported that he had met recently with Assemblyman John Nygren, Sen. Dave Hansen and some WisDOT people. The town and the DOT have finally reached an agreement on some of the road issues left over from the Hwy. 41 by-pass, Pottratz said. He added the state has agreed to remove a line in the agreement that would make the town responsible for care and maintenance of approaches to the new highway, and to pay the town for some of the roads involved. “It’s been three years!” Pottratz declared.

The evening began at 6:30 p.m. with a public hearing on proposed sale of half of an abandoned roadway to Rodney Pizinski, who owns the adjoining property and already owns the other half of the road right of way. Pottratz pointed out that neighboring property owners had been notified and no one spoke against the proposed sale. Pizinski was present on his own behalf.

Clerk Coble said it had cost $48.65 to publish legal notices on the proposed sale, and the board decided the price to Pizinski should be $1 plus all costs associated with the transaction. He is therefore to pay the town $50, and pay for having a proper deed prepared and recorded. Coble will provide him with the necessary paper work. The sale was formally approved at the regular monthly town board meeting that followed the hearings on budget and the property sale. The parcel being purchased by Pizinski is half of what formerly was Schacht Road north of Old Peshtigo Road.

All three motions offered for the special town meeting following the budget hearing were approved in one unanimous vote that okayed the proposed tax levy, and gave permission to the town board to sell excess town equipment and to sell surplus real estate.

The volunteer fire department’s new foam pumper truck, purchased from Red Power Diesel in Freemont for $85,478 was on display outside in the parking lot during, before and after the meeting. Fire Chief Mike Folgert proudly invited everyone to look it over. He said they had picked up the vehicle in Freemont on Friday and already had some training on it. He predicted they will like it very well.

Pottratz invited everyone to look over the new vehicle after the meeting. “You guys spent a lot of time putting that together,” Pottratz declared. “I hope it’s exactly what you want.”

During the budget hearing, Folgert noticed that the Public Works allocation was up by $50,000 and the Capital Expenditures allowance was down by about the same amount. He asked if the difference was the new fire truck, and Pottratz said yes. The town had put money toward that in the 2013 budget, and in 2014 they will focus on roads, which had been slightly neglected. There is still $15,000 in the budget for fire department purchases, Pottratz noted.

At the start of the regular board meeting, Schroeder reported that the state shared revenue check, for $261,780 had arrived the previous day. It was a little smaller than anticipated but will be put to good use, he said.

The board approved financial reports and budget amendments, mainly addition of $23,233.17 in a TRIP grant for road improvements, and $1,929.40 more than expected from CATV. The public works budget, which mainly goes for roads, was increased to $452,245.31 and capital outlay for machinery went from zero to $7,310, and the Fire Department budget was increased $1,625, to $92,973.

Bills totaling $163,930 were approved for payment as presented.

Budget amendments approved for November, 2013 were mainly addition of $23,233.17 from a TRIP grant for road improvements, and $1,929.40 more than expected from CATV. The public works budget, which mainly goes for roads, was increased to $452,245.31 and capital outlay for machinery was increased from zero to $7,310.

The board unanimously endorsed sending a letter of support to the City of Peshtigo, recommending that they continue working with BPM, Inc. and the Department of Natural Resources to develop a walking bridge using the existing piers in the Peshtigo River. Pottratz said Peshtigo Mayor Al Krizenesky has done a good job of getting this started. He agrees with Krizenesky that the proposed fish viewing platform will be a good draw for tourists now and in the future. If they don’t do something now, he added, the mill will be faced with the cost of removing the piers and an opportunity for the area will be gone. Hagert had already drafted a letter supporting the project, and the board unanimously agreed it should be sent, “with our best wishes for success.”

Pottratz reported the DNR had done a good job at the boat landing on Harbor Road, which included dredging to accommodate larger boats. He urged people to be careful when putting out shanties to wait until they are certain the ice is thick enough to support them, and to be sure to get them off before things thaw in spring. He urged people to avoid causing ruts in the new boat launch and parking area by driving on them when conditions are not right.

Pottratz said he has been hearing many compliments on Supervisor Denise Wiedemeier’s handling of the garbage and recycling facility.

Constable Oren Ninnemann said he had received another call from the Menominee Animal Shelter thanking the town for its donation.

The agenda called for approval of an ordinance change that would have offered a $1,000 reward for causing intentional damage to town property, but that probably will not happen. Coble reported he has been advised by the town attorney nothing in state law allows a municipality to offer a standing reward. They can only offer rewards on an incident by incident basis. He said the previously approved reward for information leading to the apprehension of litterers also is illegal. The board then approved a motion to bring the wording of their ordinance into line with the attorney’s decision.

A proposal to proceed with condemnation regarding property at W1975 Hwy. 64, the old Hall Avenue Building Supply, currently owned by David M. Kerowicz, met with some sharp opposition from supervisors Wiedemeier and Dan Staudenmaier.

Pottratz said they had gone through the condemnation process before, and thought it was all finished. Then the county took it over on back taxes, and after six or seven months, “unknown to us,” County Corporation Counsel gave it back to the previous owners, “before the county foreclosure even went to the judge.”

“So now we’re faced with the same situation again,” Pottratz declared. He asked the board if they wanted to start the legal proceedings over, but the suggestion was not well received.

“We’ve already spent $5,000 on attorney fees,” Supervisor Mark Monnette declared. He felt they should not waste any more.

Pottratz said the owners lost their “grandfathered” argument when the county took the property over.

Supervisor Wiedemeier also felt they should just leave it alone. “We’ve done everything we can do for this situation and I don’t think we should ask the taxpayers to do anything more,” she declared. She added there are plenty of properties in the town that look worse than this, “and if we pick and choose, we’ll get into trouble,” she declared.

“When we get a signed complaint we have to act on it,” Pottratz argued.

“I have to agree with Denise,” said Staudenmaier. “Those buildings were there before I was born.” He went on, “I don’t want this town to get into the business of telling people what their property should look like...One thing that has never bothered me is what neighbors property looks like.”

“The people who live next door now knew it was there when they bought it,” Wiedemeier said. She likened it to buying property next to a landfill and then demanding that the landfill be moved.

Monnette pointed out the judge did order the owner to clean up the property.

Staudenmaier said the owner did start cleaning up, and hauled out tons of metal. Then there were serious family health issues and the cleanup stopped. He suggested if anything, someone should look into why Marinette County gave the property back, and if there is any sort of enforcement of the court’s cleanup ruling.

Pottratz quickly moved to put Staudenmaier in charge of checking on cleanup of that property and report back to the board. Wiedemeier quickly seconded, and Monnette voted in favor. Staudenmaier voted no, but then said he will work with the owner. He cautioned that “no one from the Town of Peshtigo had better be on that property.”

As recommended by Wisconsin Towns Association, the town unanimously endorsed a resolution opposing passage of SB349. The resolution states that the proposed legislation, which relates to regulation of non-metallic mining, would limit authority of towns to regulate activities affecting the health and welfare of the town, “and vest exclusive jurisdiction over air quality, water quality and quantity issues with the state on all types of activities, not just non-metallic mining.” Copies of the resolution are to be sent to legislators and WTA.

Folgert reported the Fire Department had six calls since the last Town Board meeting, none of them major. Two were for vehicle accidents, one for a chimney fire, one for a lift assist and one for a power line down. One of the vehicle accidents required extraction equipment.

Folgert said so far the total number of calls for this year is down. He warned motorists to use caution on the new Hwy. 41, since overpasses tend to ice up quickly in bad weather, which results in some high speed accidents. “Any time we’re out on that highway, it’s not real pretty,” he declared.

Monnette reported pot holes are patched, mowers are put away, plows are on for the winter, and the necessary road reports have been mailed in. “Hopefully, there will not be a lot of snow before the first of the year, or if there is, it will all fall in one big storm instead of several small ones,” he commented.

He said they had an emergency culvert replacement on Spitzmacher Road after it collapsed. They had cleaned out another culvert that was fully clogged with sand, and an adjoining one was half blocked. Water is flowing much better now, he said.

Staudenmaier reported the public works department has “too much stuff” packed into the town garage, and they are considering the possibility of putting a lean-to addition on the back, surrounded by a chain link fence, for storage of equipment that can stay outdoors but still needs to be protected from possible tampering.

Pottratz mentioned a roofed fence enclosure offered by Tractor Supply for only a few hundred dollars, but Monnette said he had checked them and they look good the first year but deteriorate very quickly.

Coble warned that if they start adding to a public building they will need engineered plans for state approval, which can lead to big expenses. No action was taken.

Wiedemeier reported she and Hagert have been working with the DNR and have finalized a service agreement and compliance plan by which the DNR once or twice a year will use the town’s “e-cycling” facility to dispose of things collected from state owned land. Wiedemeier said Hagert had done a report sheet showing things brought to the town’s facility that had been illegally disposed of on state land, and that too will be a huge help in the recycling facility grant application.

The board also approved:

*A contract with Command Central for $2,040 for voting machine maintenance for 2014.

* Contracting with Marinette County for property tax collection, with the notation that program has worked well for the town in the past.

*Refunding the unused portion of the liquor license fee for 2Cs Game Farm. The license, covering October, 2013 through June 2014, has been turned in to the town.

*Setting the next Town Board meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, with the annual town Christmas party to follow. Everyone who attends is to bring a dish to pass, and all town residents are invited.


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841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
Phone: 715-582-4541
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