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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Northwoods Recycling Coalition Continues Plans For Dissolution

Issue Date: April 12, 2018

When mandatory recycling was new to Wisconsin, the towns of Athelstane, Lake, Silver Cliff, Stephenson, and Wausaukee and the Village of Crivitz formed the Northwoods Recycling Coalition to handle recycling at various sites convenient to their residents. A few years later Middle Inlet joined the Coalition.

The municipalities are now in the process of deciding how to end it. Those discussions started last fall, continued at a 6 p.m. meeting Monday, April 9 at the Stephenson Town Hall, and will be resumed at a meeting there at 6 p.m. Monday, May 21.

Towns of Wausaukee, Athelstane and Silver Cliff have already withdrawn and Town of Stephenson is in the process of doing so. Middle Inlet, Lake and the Village of Crivitz are deciding whether they want to continue a pared down coalition, go on their own as Responsible Units, and/or contract with the Town of Stephenson for recycling services. A sample contract from the Town of Stephenson is to be available for review prior to the May 21 meeting.

Attending Monday's meeting were official Coalition representatives David Jose, Athelstane; Village President John Deschane, Crivitz; Town Chair Dan Banaszak and Cindy Porth, Lake; Supervisor Donald Van, Middle Inlet; Town Chair Henry A. Burkel and Supervisor Bruce Weber, Silver Cliff; Town Chair Mike Kudick, Supervisor Jim Stradl and Public Works Director Craig Baeten, Town of Stephenson. Also on hand were Town of Stephenson Clerk Elaine Olsen, who serves as secretary for the Coalition; Middle Inlet Town Chair Rich Wade and Middle Inlet Clerk/Treasurer Chuck Stanek, plus Dave Bentzler, Marge Banaszak, and a Peshtigo Times reporter.

In the absence of an official Coalition chair, Dan Banaszak was elected to preside at the meeting.

After much discussion, the municipal representatives, with Kudick and Stradl abstaining, voted without dissent to sell the Coalition buildings to the Town of Stephenson for depreciated prices as calculated on Wednesday, April 25 - $9,000 for the building constructed in 2006 and $27,902.21 for the building constructed in 2013 - plus no less than $5,000 for the baler.

There has been one offer of $5,000 from a private company for the baler, which cost $75,000 new. Efforts are to be made to get other bids or offers before price is set for the sale to the Town of Stephenson. The baler is the only piece of equipment the Coalition owns. The only other asset will be money remaining in the checking account after all final expenses are paid.

When the Coalition was first organized it applied for the state recycling grant as a single responsible unit, and the municipalities involved agreed to share excess costs on a per capita basis. Eventually the Coalition purchased a compactor/baler for $75,000, and constructed two buildings, one in 2006 for $45,000 and one in 2013 for $41,853.31, on land leased from the Town of Stephenson.

Along the way, the towns of Wausaukee, Athelstane and Silver Cliff ceased using the coalition services and set up individual recycling programs. Wausaukee withdrew from the coalition in mid-2017 and Silver Cliff and Athelstane followed suit in December.

Last summer the Stephenson Town Board started talking about disbanding the Coalition and eventually entered an individual contract with Advanced Disposal for single-stream recycling at two of the Coalition sites, one in Crivitz and one near the Stephenson Town Hall off County X in Twin Bridge.

Discussion on disbanding the Coalition have continued since then. At Monday's meeting Banaszak declared it was time for everyone involved to decide what they want to do. "We can't keep pushing it off!" he declared.

Deschane said Crivitz is looking at options, but need to see a contract and have the village attorney look it over before they could make a decision.He said his board is also considering reaching their own contract agreement with a private hauler, or remaining as a coalition with other municipalities that may be interested, namely Middle Inlet and Lake.

Banaszak said the Town of Lake will be more than happy to go with the Town of Stephenson, but agreed, "a contract would be nice to see."

Stanek questioned cost estimates that had been distributed by the Town of Stephenson since they went with the single stream hauler at what has consistently been described as far less costly for everyone than the prior operation.

Stanek pointed out that Middle Inlet and Lake provide roadside garbage pickup for their residents and Stephenson does not, so cost of garbage handling goes strictly to serve Town of Stephenson residents. Stanek also noted the cost estimates include no revenue. The recycling center has started to bale cardboard separately and may generate income from selling it, and people bringing in garbage pay $1 per bag.

Stanek also wondered if cost shares based on population are fair, since the Town of Stephenson user numbers probably grow a great deal more during the summer months than do those of the other municipalities.

Kudick said they know of no better way to do it. Banaszak pointed out that the cost calculations were based only on operations at the Crivitz site, and most of the summer residents probably use the Twin Bridge site.

To questions from Deschane, Olsen said the population numbers used are the official state estimates issued each year, not the 10-year-old census figures.

To continued concerns about having an actual contract to consider, Olsen suggested at the Town Board meeting on April 11 she could ask the Town Attorney to draw one up. Kudick agreed they should do that, but said while it could include specific provisions on services, terms and conditions, dollar amounts charged will probably not be spelled out, since they will need to vary from month to month based on costs.

Banaszak asked how they would divide assets if the Coalition were dissolved and Kudick noted that is spelled out in the contract. Deschane felt they could not dissolve right now without losing the $25,000 state grant for 2018.

Olsen said that check should come in any time now, and whatever happens with the Coalition, recyclables and expenses for 2018 must be reported as a coalition, not as individual municipalities. Applications for 2019 state recycling grants submitted in September could be from individual municipalities, but reporting must be based on 2018 Coalition numbers. She said Wausaukee withdrew in 2017, but had to give the Coalition all their collection figures for 2017 and into 2018. She suggested they could dissolve the Coalition now except for the paperwork and paying final expenses. Kudick commented whenever they dissolved there would be overlap in terms of reporting for grant purposes.

Olsen also suggested as another option, they could return the 2018 grant check, and then they would not need to report those numbers. That thought was briefly considered and quite quickly discarded.

Deschane commented recycling costs totaled $40,000 for the year, and the $25,000 would go a long way toward paying that. "It would be throwing good money away if we decide not to take it," he declared. Wade agreed, and said if they return the grant they would all have to pay more in instead of getting money back after distributing the assets. There was general agreement that expenses will always exceed the grant amount, there will always be reporting overlaps, and they should keep the grant check when it comes.

Olsen distributed figures showing original cost of the buildings, depreciated values, and payout for each municipality based on the depreciated price. The 2006 building cost $45,000 to build and after depreciation at $3,000 per year has a book value of $9,000. The 2013 building cost $41,853.31 to build and after depreciation of $2,790 a year has a book value of $27,902.

Asked why they were looking at depreciated value and not fair market value for the buildings, Kudick said that's the way the contract was written, "and that was before my day."

Olsen reminded the group that at the last meeting they had decided that in all fairness, Wausaukee should share in the dissolution payout for the buildings and equipment even though they had been out for a year, and had voted to that effect. Everyone present on Monday agreed it would be only fair to give them their percentage back for the buildings, but Wausaukee will not be entitled to a share of whatever money is left in Coalition accounts to be divided after all income is in and all expenses are paid.

Payout from the 2013 building, with Wausaukee included, shows Athelstane will get 6 percent, Crivitz 12 percent, Lake 14 percent, Middle Inlet 11 percent, Silver Cliff 6 percent, Stephenson 38 percent, and Town of Wausaukee 13 percent. Like the cost sharing formula, distribution of assets is to be based on population.

Talk continued, and again Banaszak declared, "We can't just keep kicking this can down the road!" He noted Wausaukee is out, Silver Cliff is out, Athelstane is out, and now the night's agenda included the Town of Stephenson's request to withdraw.

Next came discussion on a price for the baler. Deschane said Great American Disposal had because of the need to dismantle it to move it, they would only offer $5,000. There was talk about another interested buyer who had offered twice that, and more talk that the offer might no longer be good. Decision was that they will seek bids or quotes from potential buyers and give the Town of Stephenson a chance to match it. Baeten is to set up appointments and Banaszak is to be there to discuss offers with prospective buyers.

There had been $32,000 in the Coalition checking account when Silver Cliff and Athelstane quit in December and it was agreed to freeze it at that amount minus their final share of expenses. The group supported Deschane's recommendation that they base disbursement for those two towns on their percentage of that amount, and then divide the remainder between the remaining municipalities after final expenses are paid.

Kudick reminded the group that some of those final expenses will involve cleaning up and restoring the brush disposal site in the Village of Crivitz.

Deschane agreed that Crivitz definitely wants the brush site cleaned up before money in the check book is dispersed. Deschane said a big berm was pushed up, creating a mud hole. The village wants the remaining brush ground up and dispersed and the berm pushed back to make the site level and usable again. Banaszak agreed that Silver Cliff and Athelstane people did not use the brush site, but felt since it was set up by the coalition, sharing cleanup costs is fair.

Banaszak said Wiedemeier Sawmill has a portable chipper that they could bring to the site for cleanup. However, Deschane said the village used Pomp's when they needed chipping done after the storms last summer and they did a good job. Baeten, after a little prompting from others present, said the town of Stephenson has a 'dozer they could donate to help level and clean up the brush site. Motion was made by Kudick and seconded by Van to have Deschane contact Pomps to do the chipping and the Town of Stephenson provide the dozer and someone to level it off. On this motion Deschane abstained and the others voted in favor.

Olsen said the Coalition has been paying $10.98 per month for its website, and asked what to do about that. Unanimous decision was to terminate the website agreement and have each municipality post information on when the sites are open, what materials are accepted, etc. on its own web site.

After discussion it was agreed that when the 2018 grant comes in it will be accepted and then dispersed at once to each of the municipalities, based on its percent of the population. Wausaukee will get only half a share because they were a member for only half of 2017, on which the grant numbers were based.

Kudick commented if Crivitz, Middle Inlet and Lake want to continue as a coalition, they can agree to put their shares back in.

Kudick presented a formal letter from the Town of Stephenson stating their intent to exit the coalition. Silver Cliff and Athelstane did not have a formal letter of withdrawal, and Banaszak asked them to do similar letters so they would be on record. Wausaukee had formally withdrawn.

Stanek suggested Stephenson might not want to formally withdraw at this point. He read a clause in the contract stating that the withdrawing municipality forfeits its right to the assets. Stanek and Banaszak said they should hold off on accepting the withdrawal letter, and the Stephenson representatives did not object.

After discussion on when the various boards would be able to meet to act on the dissolution, proposed contract, share distribution, etc., the next - and probably last - meeting of the Northwoods Recycling Coalition was set for 6 p.m. on Monday, May 21, at the Stephenson Town hall.


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