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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Pound Terminates Public Works Director Kevin Schutte As Village Employee

Issue Date: January 17, 2020

After meeting in closed session near the end of its regular monthly board meeting on Monday, Jan. 13 Pound Village Board returned to open session and by unanimous roll call vote with all members present approved a motion made by Village President Terry Earley and seconded by Trustee David Navis that stated:

"The employment of Kevin Schutte with the village of Pound is terminated effective immediately on this day, Jan.13, 2020 at 2040 p.m. (8:40) p.m. In the Employee handbook heading employment termination, discipline and disciplinary termination it is stated: "The nature of your employment with the village is at will and therefore, either you or the village may terminate your employment relationship at any time for any reason or no reason at all.' Any Village of Pound property possessed by Kevin Schutte must be returned immediately. Any personal property owned by Kevin Schutte on the Village of Pound property must be collected with the village president present."

The agenda had included provision for a "closed session to consider discipline of a public employee," but state law mandates that if there is to be discussion of employee discipline the employee involved has the option of requesting that it be held in open session, with the public and press having access to all comments and information involved.

When the employee discipline item came up for discussion at the meeting board members indicated they preferred to have the discussion in closed session, but Schutte was asked if he preferred to have it open to the public, and was reminded anything said could then be published as a news article. Schutte then asked if he could be present if the discussion was in closed executive session. The board agreed informally that he could participate at the start of the executive session, and then be asked to leave so the board could continue their discussion without him present. He agreed, and that is what was done, again by unanimous board vote.

He was in the meeting with the board for a time, and then was asked to leave. When the board returned to open session Schutte was called back into the meeting room and the motion stated above was approved without any additional comments from Schutte or board members.

The only other items left for the board were consideration of paid general and utility bills for the month and December financial reports, both of which were approved as presented by Clerk/Treasurer Diane Patz.

The utility had a checking account balance of $11,198.91 at the start of December, receivables of $1,329.22 and expenses of $11,198.91,leaving a balance of $1,358.97. The utility had $15,293 in its Money Market account and $30,710 in a CD, for a total of $47,362.42, and total debt of $442,982.79. Expenses for the month totaled $39,682.56

General village accounts show a balance of $137,457.55 in checking accounts and cash on hand. There are loans totaling $515,412.25 at interest rates of 4 percent, 4.9 percent and 45. percent.The Pound-Beaver fire department account had a balance of $21,787 and the fire department equipment replacement fund totaled $3,075.71.

When contacted by phone after the meeting Earley said they are advertising for someone to fill the Public Works Director position. He said for now responsibilities of the job will be handled as they were when Schutte was on vacation. Earley is a certified utility operator, but will handle those responsibilities only on an emergency basis. They are seeking someone to do that job temporarily until the new person hired can be trained and certified, and he is hopeful Aaron Patefield from Coleman will step in to be the certified operator. David Navis and another worker did garbage pickup last two weeks while Kevin was on vacation and will continue doing that, and snowplowing will be done by Dan Risner Excavating.

Schutte had been Village President for a number of years before being named Director of Public Works about a decade ago. He also is a candidate for election to a trustee position on the board in the April 7 elections. Navis is not a candidate and will leave the board when his term ends in April. Meyer is seeking re-election to the board and Wayne Gross is also a candidate for one of the two seats to be filled in April.

At the start of the meeting Jane Kopish Sequin introduced herself to the board. She is a candidate to fill the Marinette County Circuit Court Branch I judicial position that will be vacated when Judge David Miron retires in July. She noted she and her husband were both born and raised in Marinette County and are graduates of Marinette Catholic Central High School. Their four daughters were born in Marinette. She was Brown County Court Commissioner for 21 years and since April of 2019 has been Marinette County Court Commissioner and Register in Probate, giving her decades of courtroom experience. "I've heard thousands of cases and rendered thousands of decisions over the years," Sequin said.

She stressed that judicial candidates are not allowed to discuss party affiliation or personal opinions on matters that may come before the court, and are expected to render decisions based on the law and evidence presented, but said one thing she will demand in court is respect, both for the court and for others involved.

Navis had a number of questions, including how Supreme Court candidates managed to express opinions on controversial issues, and how without that could a voter assess her basis of truth and personal values.

"If you talk to others about me you will find that they say I am trustworthy, truthful and follow through on what I say," she told him. She added that part of a judge's duties are to determine who is telling the truth, "and that is often not easy."

Trustee Rogodzinski presented the Fire Department report, including financial report prepared by Tom Prue which showed an ending balance of $21,787 on Dec. 31. and a $3,075.71 CD as the equipment replacement fund. Deposits included a $25 donation from the Senior Club, a $150 shop rent refund as a donation fromTom Prue, a $25 donation from J. Barber and a $100 donation from Dan Rhodes.

Department calls in the past month included two lift assists, one call for a vehicle in the middle of a field, and one call to divert traffic for a car accident on Hwy. 141. Fire inspections are completed for the Village of Pound and half dozen for the Town of Beaver. The department has two new members, a father/son team from the Nelligan Lake area in the Town of Beaver.

Schutte reported he had spent much time working on the garbage truck, and that, not problems with his knee, had caused the fire department being called onto put up Christmas lights.

Earley said as far as he knew the garbage truck was working fine now. Navis said when he and Del picked up garbage they found the packer would not cycle and it leaked volumes of fluid so they had a new pump put in by Starzer Repair, after which it worked fine. He questioned a bill from Hydraulic Repair, and asked why they were paying it if they had not fixed the problem. Schutte said they fixed some issues, but after he got it back he found that it still wouldn't cycle properly. He still did not know why it does not work properly.

Meyer asked the age of the truck, and told it is a 2000 model wondered if they should look into a new one, considering the money being spent on repairs.

In his report on utility operations Schutte said there is a water leak somewhere in the village, since consumption is up by 3,000 gallons a day. He had shut off water service to the Wayne Gross property. The village pumped 1,631,514 gallons of wastewater to the treatment plant in Coleman, and drew 664,000 gallons of water from the village well.

Earley wondered when the Christmas lights would be taken down, and said Turner Gross had told him the fire department would do it.

Schutte said as to taking down the lights, he is still on a work restriction from the doctor because of his knee, but then added it was up to the board as to how hard they wanted him to work him, since if they need to scope the knee he would be off work for six to eight weeks.

Earley said WPS had asked him when the lights would come down, because they change the rates. Rogodzinski said Turner Gross told him they would do it Tuesday or Wednesday.

Patz briefly recapped the Parade of Lights and Community Christmas celebration and said they will probably do something different next year for the official lighting of the Christmas Tree by the Village Hall because hardly anyone had turned out for that. They are still putting together prizes for the floats and will give the donated money not used for expenses to the Food Pantry.

There had been a request from the contractor for a completion sign-off on the Walker Street Project. Because the project had not been completed on time the village had deducted the $500 per day penalty from the bill before paying, and there was an understanding that the contractor objected to this. The board had considered having an attorney look into it, but considering that the attorney charges $250 per hour Earley recommended looking further into it themselves.

Schutte said the contractor calls him by phone once in a while or sends an e-mail asking when the village would pay the balance. He noted the village had spent $13,000 to clean the concrete out of a pipe involved in the project. Earley asked him if he had passed the information about calls and e-mail copies to Patz, and apparently he had not.

Earley asked Schutte who was inspector on that project and Schutte said he had been the on-site inspector.

Patz said the contractor did not tell her there was a problem with the amount the village had paid, only that he wanted the village to sign off that the project is done. Navis suggested tabling that issue to the next meeting so Patz can check further into it, and the rest of the board agreed.

They also tabled a question from Brian Ermis as to requirements for a sign he wants to put up on his building for the B&M Auto Sales and repair business he plans to open. He said having proper signage is the only thing holding him from getting his license to open, and he wants to at least get the sign up so people know he is there.

The ordinance governing signs passed is 2007 is so complicated that the board had time figuring it out. Meyer said they were all surprised how complicated the ordinance was. At Homontowski's suggestion the board recommended that Ermis give a copy to the person doing his sign and have them go ahead with it. He plans to put the sign on the front of his building, above the door facing the road. He also was given permission to keep his mail box were it is for now and in spring attach it to the row of mail boxes on posts provided by the village.

Earley noted a $30,710.11 village CD for the utility depreciation fund is coming up for renewal. It was drawing 2 percent interest, but the new rate will be 1.7 percent for a 12-month CD and 1.5 percent for an 18-month term. Navis noted they are paying up to 4.9 percent interest on loans, so by keeping the money in a CD instead of paying off on a loan they are losing 3 percent. The utility has debts totaling $442,980. He asked Schutte why they have the CD and Schutte replied, "It's all there." Earley said they need an answer by Feb. 1, when the CD comes due. Meyer was quite sure the state requires them to save the money as a depreciation account so they can replace equipment when necessary, and other board members agreed. Rogodzinski suggested a 3-month CD at .2 of a percent until they get the answers and all voted in favor of that. The issue will also be on the agenda again next month, including Rogodzinski's suggestion that they look into what other banks are paying.

The board reviewed insurance costs for a renewal of policies from Insurance Works Agency, Inc. Price of $16,754 quarterly is down slightly from last year. After discussion they agreed to get quotes from other providers, specifically the League of Municipalities, and possibly Wisconsin Towns Association.

The board asked Schutte to provide monthly reports for his work with the public works and utilities departments, and after discussion changed the wording to require the Director of Public Works to provide ther board with written monthly activities reports.

Next came discussion of having an audit done for 2019. Navis said they have to, according to a village ordinance passed in 1989 they must have a complete annual audit done each year, even though this is not required by state law. However, they are still waiting for the 2016 audit audit to be completed by Joel Rennie, and then audits for 2017 and 2018 should be done before an auditor can start on 2019.

Navis moved to get a cost estimate from some other auditing firms before going ahead with the 2019 audit, and all agreed Patz should get some prices before the next meeting. At Navis' suggestion the price quotes are to include time frames for when the work is to be done and penalties for not getting it done on time.

Asked why Rennie is taking so long to complete the 2016, 17 and 18 audits, Earley said there is a lot of leg work to be done. He noted the 2016 audit is difficult because there were no audits for several years prior to 2016.

Discussion on need to amend the 2020 budget included consideration of resolutions other municipalities use when they move funds from one budget account to another. Navis had previously asked for a financial report on budget status every month, and Patz said she will start doing that as soon as she gets end of the year things done, and will probably have it for February.

Things they will need budget amendments for include a culvert for which no budget provision was made, a TID loan overage, and a computer replacement Patz needs to meet WIS-Vote requirements. Patz said the total cost of computer upgrade replacements from UES computers is $2,385 less a $103 credit, and there is only $800 in the budget for this. The TID loan is about $40,000. The transfers will be taken care of at a future meeting when all the numbers are known and procedures are decided.


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