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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Pound Village Board Hears Audit Update

Issue Date: July 15, 2020

At the Pound Village Board meeting on Monday, July 13, Auditor Joel Rennie, of the firm Johnson & Rennie, LLC. presented a very preliminary report on results of the long-awaited 2016 audit.

Clerk/Treasurer Diane Patz said she has been informed two village applications to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for funds to help cover the costs of cleaning up after some of the big storms early this year have been approved and they will be getting checks of about $5,800 and $9,000 to help cover costs of equipment and debris removal. Village President Terry Earley commented that doesn't fully cover the costs, "but everything helps."

On recommendation of Trustee Mike Rogodzinski the board scheduled a Fall Cleanup Day for village residents for Saturday, Sept. 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Several months ago Rogodzinski volunteered to run a cleanup day at which village residents can get rid of junk that isn't recyclable and doesn't go in with regular garbage. Plans and prices will be finalized at the board's next meeting, on Monday, Aug. 10.

Problems with a storm sewer on Walker Street were cleared up for now by having it jetted out, but Public Works Director Scott Fuelle said he was told by the contractor that there will be problems there again because the drain pipe is only six inches when it should be 16 to 18 inches, so it constantly fills up with sand.

When it came time for his report, Rennie said thanks to a great deal of help from Patz the audit is about about 97 percent completed, and so far he has not found any significant errors.

"I have been anxiously waiting to finish it," Rennie said. He explained he cannot do the 2016 audit without first finalizing and verifying 2015 year-end figures and account balances, but once that is done, everything should be smooth.

He said most of the "vouching samples" for 2015 are now done, "with help from Dianne," and accounts payable balances at the end of 2015 and 2016 have been verified. "In the vouching samples we looked at, everything was good," Rennie added.

He noted that Pound is a small community, with only so much money to go around, and only so many people to do the work. However, he added, "The village board looks at all the vouchers, all the bills and all the invoices, so you've got internal controls and it's working."

Rennie said sometimes he needs to go through grant manuals to evaluate disbursements, and for large ticket purchases auditors want to see where approval is entered in the meeting minutes.

"Dianne is getting a little bit of a taste of the time it takes to get these things in place," Rennie commented. He repeated that they are almost finished with the 2015 balances, "... and once all that is done, the rest will be easy."

At the start of the meeting Patz had told the board she has been spending a lot of time collecting audit information, and she and Rennie had spent more than three hours the previous Thursday working on audit items, and there are a lot of things he still needs. She will be out of the office for the remainder of this week at clerk's training, and said she may get help from Trustee Mary Meyer next week to help locate some of the missing information. "From my end, it's overwhelming!" she declared.

Patz said she has completed the Tax Increment District report that was due July 1, and for that she had to back all the way to the beginning because the reports were supposed to list only principal payments due for the report year, not the total loan balance for the entire TID project, so the difference between income and balances due was not nearly as bad as the previous reports had made it appear. She had called the state and to get help to correct the problems, and was able to do the 2019 report correctly.

Trustee Wayne Gross asked how the change in that report affects Schedule C in the audit. Rennie said most of the village accounting is done on a cash basis, so it was not affected much, but they are working on a schedule for accounts payable and vouchers.

The June financial report shows the village had a total of $43,634.82 in general cash, checking, and money market accounts. Debts totaled $465,736.43. The Pound/Beaver Fire Department savings account balance had a balance of $19,696.01, and there was $3,075.71 in the Fire Department Equipment Replacement Fund, with interest at 1 percent.

The Pound Utility financial report showed a negative balance of $13,026.03 on June 30, after paying expenses of $28,349.47 for the month. However, Patz said she will withdraw money to pay bills from the Money Market account, which had a balance of $15,293.34. The utility also has a balance of $30,880.09 as a CD in the Wisconsin Utility Depreciation account, for a total balance of $33,147,40. The utility owes a balance of $418,188.86 on a loan from Stephenson National Bank and Trust.

Trustee Mike Rogodzinski reported the Fire Department checking account at the end of June showed a balance of $16,741.50, of which $1,169.52 is from the Pound/Brazeau fund raiser. The savings account, with a balance of $19,696.01 at the end of June, had earned a total of 82 cents interest for the month. The department also has the $3,075.71 Certificate of Deposit for the Fire Department Equipment Replacement Fund, with interest at 1 percent, that was shown in the monthly financial report for the village.

Rogodzinski said the DNR is not working well with the efforts of Village of Pound and Town of Brazeau to locate a dry hydrant in addition to the one they already have at Bass Lake. He said the DNR would not let them use the dry hydrant site they had selected as a source for replenishing water supplies in pumper trucks.

The Fire Department has faced some major fires in the past two weeks. During June they were called to one car accident and one lift assist and then the major structure fire at Patz Pallet on Tuesday, June 30 that was battled by 45 firefighters from five area fire departments, including Village of Pound, Brazeau, Coleman/Pound, Grover/Porterfield and Crivitz. Assistance at the scene was also provided by Coleman and Brazeau rescue squads. Rogodzinski said one Pound firefighter was taken to Aurora Bay Area Medical Center to be treated for chest pains.

Rogodzinski said a few days later the fire re-kindled and firefighters were called back. He added that fortunately a trailer load of wood was parked between the re-kindled blaze and the main building and the fire was extinguished before it spread.

Then on Saturday, July 11 Pound firefighters were called to the fire that destroyed the Homontowski home at 3011 Business 141 in the village, and were joined by units from Crivitz, Coleman and Brazeau. Some firefighters were back the next day for follow-up work.

During time for public comment at the start of the board meeting Trustee John Homontowski had thanked firefighters, fellow church members, and the community, including Katie's Subs, for their support during and after the fire. Two of Homontowski's sons had lived in the house that burned, and basically all their possessions were lost.

Then, on Monday, July 13 an old barn in the Town of Pound that had been slated for demolition caught fire and burned to the ground and Village of Pound firefighters were called to assist.

Rogodzinski thanked Katie's Subs for the busy firefighters. He also thanked John Richlen from Richlen Enterprises in Beaver for repairing damage to the lawn and culvert area caused when a Village of Pound fire truck slid into the ditch there last winter. Rogodzinski said the fire department was prepared to take responsibility for correcting the damage, but Richlen told them not to worry about it.

Public Works Director Scott Fuelle reported he had cleaned up several areas of the village, repaired the hydrant on County Q and improved an area on County Q to provide better drainage.

The utility report shows water system bacteria samples both tested safe for May, the hydrant on Alma Street needs replacing, and water flowing into the lift station for pumping to the Coleman Wastewater Treatment Plant again in June greatly exceeded water produced for the utility. There were 545,000 gallons produced and 1,593,000 gallons in the wastewater system, a difference of 1,048,000 gallons. Fighting the Patz Pallet fire accounted for 17,000 of those gallons

Gross asked if there was any way to reduce the storm water infiltration of the sewer system, and mentioned two areas - one on Walker Street and one at a culvert on County Q - where huge pieces of concrete direct water flow into exposed sewer pipes. Consensus of the board was to fix the easiest problems first.

Fuelle said he will talk with Aaron Patefield for ideas on what can and should be done.

At a special meeting in June the board had approved a long-term lease of a new tractor with a bucket, forks, snowplow and a rear-mounted broom, and declined to lease or buy a new lawn mower. They then agreed to trade in the old snow blower, and the old zero-turn lawn mower, which had a front-mounted broom.

Homontowski said after doing some research, he feels those were not the right decisions, and attempted to convince the other board members that they should buy or lease a cab for the new tractor at a price of $4,800 so Fuelle would not be exposed to the elements while snow plowing, and buy an X739 riding lawn mower with mower deck, snow blower, cab, and front mount broom for a total cost of $25,071.20.

Homontowski said with only the tractor to use, Fuelle will not be able to do as good a job of cutting grass in the village as he would like to do, sweeping streets and sidewalks will be more difficult with the rear-mounted broom, and there are places where he will not be able to plow snow from sidewalks so home and business owners who have had their walks plowed previously will now need to shovel.

Stating in advance that he felt there would probably be no support, Homontowski made a motion to buy the tractor cab and mower, but it died for lack of a second, so there was no vote.

Rogodzinski agreed it would be nice to have a cab for Fuelle, but he could manage without it. He also felt it is the job of the property owners to clean the walks in front of their property and commented that "...people on 141 have had gravy for the last eight or nine years...no one comes down to clean my sidewalk!"

Gross said vision is much better from tractors without cabs, and predicted everyone would be disappointed with an after-market cab.

Earley said they could always look at purchasing a lawn mower later, perhaps while doing next year's budget, but for now, with the tractor, Fuelle will be able to cut grass, plow and sweep and do whatever else is necessary.

Providing Fuelle with a part-time summer worker was another item the board chose to put off until next year.

Fuelle said he has more to do than he can get done, but tries to limit his time to 45 hours per week because he knows the village cannot afford to pay a lot of overtime. He felt a part-time helper would be more cost effective.

He said among other things he would love to do something with the old DNR building and there is much to do at the Community Center, but there is no time.

"We'd love to do something for you," Early told Fuelle. He said things may get better, but right now costs are high and the budget is suffering. Because Fuelle doesn't yet have a CDL license they need to hire Dell Hannon for jobs that require a CDL, and because he is still training for his utility operator certifications. Fuelle said he will get by, and agreed they can put the issue off until fall.

With Homontowski casting the sole opposing vote, and Trustee Mary Meyer absent, the board approved bartender licenses for Jessica Dvorak and Kelsey School to work at Papa Bear's.


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