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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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City To Get $230,000 “Forgiveness” Toward WWTP Renovation Costs

The City of Peshtigo received some good news last week in the form of a letter from WDNR Financial Assistance Specialist Candice Sovinski, announcing the city will receive approximately $230,000 of principal forgiveness funds when it finalizes what would have been an approximately $1.7 million loan from Wisconsin DNR’s Clean Water Fund for improvements to the city-owned wastewater treatment plant. The grant amount, more than triple the “forgiveness” amount that had been anticipated, was announced at a meeting of the city’s Finance and Claims Committee Monday morning, July 29.

“This is great news!” exclaimed Alderman Tom Gryzwa, “This is $170,000 more than we thought we were going to get!” He said the grant will reduce the amount of money the city needs to borrow, although at 2.64 percent interest spread over 20 years, the loan terms are quite favorable. The amount the city will actually need to borrow from the state’s Clean Water Fund also will be reduced by the recently announced $139,000 grant from the Wisconsin Public Service “Focus on Energy” program. This too was far above the amount originally projected.

Gryzwa chairs the city’s Water and Sewer Committee as well as Finance and Claims and UDAG Committees. Also on hand for Monday’s meeting were Aldermen Mike Behnke and Debbie Sievert, who are committee members; Mayor Al Krizenesky, Public Works Director George Cowell, Clerk/Treasurer Mary Ann Wills, and former Alderman Mary Lock.

Gryzwa said he has told Wills, Cowell and engineering consultant Chris Kaempfer that the city is counting on them to follow through with all the forms and reports necessary to getting the grants and the low interest financing.

The Water and Sewer Committee meets on the second Thursday of every month. The next meeting, on Tuesday, Aug. 13, will begin at 9 a.m. rather than the usual 10 a.m. starting time, to allow for a tour of the Wastewater Treatment Plant, where the renovations are nearing completion. Gryzwa invited any interested Finance Committee members to attend.

After hearing a report from Gryzwa on savings the city can realize from changing its telephone service the committee voted unanimously to accept a proposal from Time Warner Cable for telephone and upgraded internet service for a total of $639.28 per month, with the price locked in on a 5-year contract. Wireless internet service and cellular phone service will still be obtained through Cyber Zone, and the alarm system for the wastewater treatment plant lab and lift stations will still be provided through Century Link at a cost of about $35 a month.

Gryzwa said he and city personnel have been talking for some time on possible savings in telephone service, for which they have been paying over $810 a month. They have identified one line that can be eliminated entirely, at a savings of $56.81 per month, and another that may no longer be needed. Taking out those two lines will save about $120 a month if nothing else were changed, bringing the cost down to $690 per month. However, the current hard-wired Internet service, at an additional cost of about $300 a month, brings only 1.75M of power, and is not providing the service the city needs, Gryzwa said.

Gryzwa reported Time Warner Cable has offered a telephone service program, complete with landline Internet, for $639.39 per month. That will provide both telephone and Internet service to the Municipal Building, East Side Fire Department (where there currently is no internet), and the City Garage, as well as telephone only to the Community Center. Internet service is to be 10M at the Municipal Building and 7M at the other two sites. Behnke said he will talk to a Cyber Zone representative about getting wireless router equipment for the Community Center. He felt it could be the same type of wireless Internet that serves campers at Badger Park.

Krizenesky, who has been voicing objections at recent meetings to some proposed signs on the highway, commented drily the city will be saving enough on the telephone bill to pay for the signs that no one can see.

Sievert noted Time Warner includes nationwide long distance calls at no extra charge, and Gryzwa agreed that is important. He said many city residents have only cell phone service now, and some of those lines are long distance even though they are right in the city. Police have told him they have to either use their cell phones or pay for long distance calls in many cases.

Committee approval of the switch to Time Warner was unanimous.

The committee unanimously approved a proposal from Dama Plumbing and Heating of Crivitz to replace two leaking pumps on the Municipal Building furnace system at a cost of $2,100 for one and $2,765 for the other. Dama recently replaced the furnace boilers. Intent is to have the work done before winter heating season begins. Gryzwa said the maintenance budget still has a balance of $7,800, so there is enough money to cover the cost.

Gryzwa said he had been told the whole problem with the city’s computer system was speed of internet service, but he has learned there is more to it. The new computers are in the shop, having updated programs installed before being put into service. Hopes are to have the new computers up and running by mid August. Wills is to follow through.

Last month the committee had agreed the city should apply for credit cards for specified city employees through BMO Harris Bank. It seems they first received a response with more credit cards than had been ordered, but later received a letter stating the application was denied. There was no explanation, and Gryzwa said he will look into it. Peshtigo School District has credit cards through the same bank that apparently were issued without problems.

Financial reports for the month show the city had a balance of $1,704,630 in the general fund as of June 30, including a $100,000 CD. There is an $899,782.52 balance in the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund, $132,603 in the Wisconsin Development Fund, $217,046 in debt reserves, $767,001 in the Water Utility account, and a negative balance of $198,309 in the Sewer Utility. The City’s UDAG fund showed a balance of $2,652,200 in CDs, with interest rates at .65 and .75 percent. In addition to the CDs, deposits at the end of June totaled $186,286 at BMO Harris and $2,839,330 at Peshtigo National Bank.

Gryzwa reminded the committee budget time is coming up, and in view of problems getting the budget to balance last year, asked them to spend some time thinking about places they might save in the 2014 budget. They used up carryovers last year, and have none to turn to this year. He said a slight increase in state shared revenue might help with budgeting.

Wills offered to start now to do a 6-month analysis on where city spending to date stands in relation to the budget. Gryzwa said thanks to the recent grants and the improvements to downtown streets, parks, etc. they may be able to go easy on maintenance spending next year.

The city had received a letter from the Peshtigo Historical Day Committee asking to be considered for a budgetary allocation next year. Lock explained the Historical Days organizers had foregone any contribution last year because the city was facing a financial dilemma and they had a budget balance. They can use some extra help for the coming year, Lock said, adding that they always welcome the contributions to help them put on a better celebration. The event will offer a couple of new entertainments this year, Lock said.

Wills noted three of the CDs will reach maturity before the next Finance Committee meeting and asked what to do with them, particularly since the Mayor has indicated two firms may be interested in expansion/location loans. Decision was that since there is no penalty for early withdrawal other than lost interest, she should buy new CDs at the highest interest rate she can locate when they expire.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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