THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Town of Peshtigo Residents Reject Pay Raises For Officials
Issue Date: January 3, 2019
By a narrow 3-vote margin, the 39 persons who attended a Town of Peshtigo special town meeting on Thursday, Dec. 27 narrowly defeated a motion that would have raised salaries for town officials elected in April. By decision of those present, voting was done by secret paper ballot.
Town Chair Denise Wiedemeier said she called the meeting because Town of Peshtigo elected officials have not had a raise in 14 years and she felt perhaps increasing the pay would attract additional candidates.
Deadline for candidates to file nomination papers to be on the ballot for the Spring election on Tuesday, April 2 is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2. However, electors in towns wanting to change the pay of officials for positions to be filled by the voters in April had to make their decision before the end of 2018.
Wiedemeier said she had been told by Wisconsin Towns Association advisors that had the raises been approved, they would have been in effect only for the positions filled this year, which are the Town Chair post that she currently holds, and supervisor positions held by incumbents Mark Monnette and Dan Staudenmaier. Unofficial reports are that there is also competition for these positions.
Pay for the Town supervisor posts currently held by Dan Van Beek and Tom Holterman would have remained unchanged until after the spring elections in 2020.
State law mandates that town boards cannot set pay for the positions they hold, but can do so for other elected town posts. Only the electorate, at a special town meeting or at the town annual budget meeting, where most towns handle that issue, can set pay for town Chair and town supervisors.
Among electors at the Dec. 27 Peshtigo meeting who spoke in opposition to the proposed pay raises was former long-time Town Chair Herman Pottratz, who was defeated by Wiedemeier in April of 2017.
With the filing deadline hours away, Pottratz and Wiedemeier will again be competing for the Town Chair position in April. Supervisors. Wiedemeier said she had been considering not running again, and had the motion for pay raises been approved, would probably not have filed her papers since she would have felt her job was complete. "As soon as I banged the gavel to close the meeting, I knew I would run again," she said. She added that being Town Chair entails a great deal of work.
"Nobody who takes these jobs does so for the pay," she said.
During the approximately one and a half hours of discussion that preceded the vote there were even suggestions for cutting the pay. Wiedemeier said she had been advised by WTA people to get the pay more in line with state averages, but it was hard to come up with comparables for comparable size towns.
She said the current pay for Peshtigo Town Chair is $6,000 a year and for Supervisors it is $5,000 a year. Motion made by Joe Wilke, with a second from Steve Stewart, to raise that pay by $500 a year was defeated by the three vote margin.