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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Wausaukee Residents Asked To Clear Leaves From Street Drains

A combination of fallen leaves and heavy rains caused “the 100 year flood” on Hwy. 141 in Wausaukee Saturday, Oct. 12. Village President Hilbert Radtke, at the Village Board meeting Wednesday, Oct. 16, asked citizens to help prevent similar problems in the future. He suggested that just as they assume responsibility for keeping sidewalks shoveled and snow cleared away from fire hydrants in winter, everyone will benefit if in fall they avoid raking leaves into the street and check to be sure leaves and other debris are cleared away from storm sewer drains near their property.

Public Works Director Darryl Schmidt reported he was called out in response to the flooding and found there were leaf mats across the clean-outs so water couldn’t go in fast enough.

Special pickup of leaves and brush from city properties is scheduled from Monday, Oct. 28 through Friday, Nov. 1, so at least a part of the problem should be eliminated for this year.

Schmidt reported someone stole the heavy metal PTO shaft from the brush cutter that was stored outside at the municipal building. Replacement will cost $649. Anyone in the village who may know its whereabouts could call the Village Hall, or anyone with information about the theft could call Crime Stoppers and gain a reward if the culprit is convicted. The PTO, made of reddish brown metal, is about 3 1/2 to 4 feet long, and comes from a Rhino brush cutter.

Water and sewer rates for the village are almost certain to be increased in the next few months, but the exact amount has not yet been determined. With trustees Bradley Taylor, Kyle Stumbris and Jason Figas absent, Radtke recommended holding off on an increase recommendation until the full board is present to make the decision.

Radtke and trustees Rosie Figas, Debra Stumbris and Ann Hartnell were the only board members present for the majority of the meeting. Taylor arrived late, shortly before the board went into closed executive session to discuss hiring part time snow plow drivers for the coming winter season.

The board’s Water and Sewer committee, at a budget workshop meeting a week earlier, had recommended a 3% increase in the water rates and 5% increase in sewer rates, both to become effective on Jan. 1. Discussion on that recommendation led to the possibility the increase in sewer rates could be considerably more.

Village Treasurer Sara Pullen said she struggles regularly to get money into the loan account for the $110,000 payment due March 3, and expenses of operating the utilities are exceeding the income.

She said no one likes price increases, but in fact 12 years ago, sewer rates were 20.5% higher than they are now. Meanwhile, costs of operating and maintaining the systems have gone up. The last sewer rate increase was in 2008, when the bill for a sample account rose from $63.02 to $69.02 per quarter.

Pullen had done some research and found that in 2001 sewer rates were dropped by 20.5%, “and clearly that is the cause of the cash flow issues that we have today.” She wondered if the board would consider raising the rate more than the 5% the committee had recommended, perhaps 8%.

Figas said she would rather go up gradually than have a huge increase all at once.

Hartnell wondered if the 5% and 3% increases will be enough to correct the income/outgo deficit. That question led to discussion of expensive repair and maintenance issues that have been put off for several years.

A 5% sewer rate increase for the entire village raises sewer income only $8,500 a year, and the proposed 3% water increase, highest that can be effected without WPSC permission, will generate only an additional $3,000.

“That doesn’t even rebuild one manhole!” Radtke exclaimed. He wondered aloud if there is room on the water tower for another antenna, since rent is $1,896 a year.

The current sewer rate is $4.94 per 1,000 gallons for residences using 10,000 gallons, for which the quarterly bill would be $114. A 10% increase sounds large, but would add about $9 a quarter or $36 a year for an average household. Some would pay more, some less, depending on water use. The planned 3% water rate increase would add another $28.22 a year.

“I fear for the low income and elderly,” Stumbris declared.

“The company needs to be viable,” Radtke commented. He suggested increasing rates over a four period by 3% and 5% a year, and at the end of that time the rates would be back where they were 10 years ago.

“We need some manufacturer to come in and use a lot of water,” Radtke declared.

“That’s not going to happen in the village until we get rid of the Fair,” Hartnell declared.

Figas commented they cannot keep putting off repairs.

“I’d like this decision made when the other board members are here,” Radtke decided.

The entire issue then was tabled until the next meeting. Pullen said for that meeting she will do some examples of the various rate effect on bills for customers using 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 30,000 gallons a quarter.

Turning next to the balance from the state trust fund loan, Figas said they had $85,000 set aside for the lift station at Southview, which may not need to be done. The committee recommends taking $10,000 to start manhole rehabilitation. That amount will do one manhole, and they would then hope to budget for another one next year. The Board approved that recommendation without dissent.

Also approved was a recommendation to earmark the $16,537 of undesignated funds from the State Trust Fund Loan proceeds, along with the $5,811 paid from the village to the Water and Sewer Utility for delinquent bills, and put it into the general Water and Sewer funds to be used for maintenance and repairs in the 2014 budget.

“We’re working hard on the budget, and I think, thanks to Sara, we’ll have a good, viable budget for next year and we’ll be able to get things done,” Figas declared.

Hartnell offered to look into the possibility of a Focus on Energy Grant from Wisconsin Public Service for energy saving projects that could cut future costs.

Clerk Tasha Ranallo told the board she wants to get the 2014 proposed budget published on Wednesday, Oct. 30, in preparation for the Budget Hearing scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26.

Meanwhile, the Plan Commission and Village Board will hold a joint public hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 6 to discuss proposed revisions to village ordinances pertaining to side yard placement of accessory buildings and structures.

Hartnell said the Plan Commission had met with people without a backyard who are unable to put an accessory building on their property. The Plan Commission recommends amending the ordinance so they can put an accessory building on the side yard as long as it does not extend beyond the front of the house.

Both Water and Sewer and Streets committees decided they need to make some kind of template to schedule work that needs to be done on an on-going basis. Some works needs to be done monthly, some yearly, and some every several years, but they want to know ahead of time so they can plan accordingly.

Figas said the Finance Committee wants departments to present a budget, rather than have the three committee members try to devise one. Clerk Ranallo said in fact state law decrees it is the responsibility of department heads to present a budget each year.

Grinding the brush pile was cited as a priority item for the 2014 budget by the Finance and Purchasing Committee, but the quote is $9,500. They are investigating the possibility of getting someone with a barrel type grinder, who could handle the “dirty” material and convert it into usable chips, hopefully at a lower cost. Radtke explained the brush is contaminated with metal, which could destroy a regular grinder. Recommendation was to hold off on buying a new radio for the 2000 GMC truck, and cut the street budget from $50,000 to $25,000 for next year, but put $10,000 into a fund for future use.

Actual figures for wages and fringe benefits will be put into the budget once those numbers are finalized.

The board approved purchasing upgrades for the variable frequency drives for wells No. 1 and 3, for the quoted price of $5,200.

An operator’s license was approved for Jackie Buck to work at Hoover’s.

There was no one present to explain the Fire Department’s quarterly report and proposed budget, but after a bit of discussion the board approved their proposed increase of $2,260, which brings the total for 2014 to $24,420.

The village had been asked to advertise again in the Marinette County Visitor’s Guide, but Hartnell questioned whether that is necessary. In the past the village purchased a page and sold ads on it to various businesses. Hartnell, who heads Marinette County Association For Business and Industry, said the village gets a page of text anyway, and the company which is publishing the guide can still sell individual ads for the other page.

Clerk Ranallo said the advertising does not seem to increase use of the Evergreen Park campground.

Acting on advice from the village attorney the board approved amendments to its ordinance regarding limits on access to the Village Code of Ordinances. This is apparently in response to a new law that limits public access to private information on water and sewer bills.

Once again Warren DeLaet submitted the only bid for snow plowing in the village, with the price the same as last year. Approval was unanimous. The village remains responsible for shoveling snow away from stop signs.

On recommendation of the Finance Committee, the board agreed that this year residential winners of the Christmas Decorating Contest will be rewarded with vouchers good at village businesses instead of cash. “The feeling is to keep the money in the village,” Pullen explained. There will be three $50 vouchers awarded to the top three residences, good at any village business that agrees to accept reimbursement from the board. Businesses win a traveling trophy.

Radtke officially proclaimed Oct. 20 through Oct. 26 as “Freedom From Bullies in the Workplace Week,” and the board unanimously approved the proclamation.

Schmidt suggested the village should keep the 1998 JD 4300 mower he had thought was no good. Now he has found a used deck can be purchased from e-Bay for $3,200, and the new mower too large to take across the walking trail bridge. He said they can use the old mower on rough areas along the highway and save the new one. Radtke said they would take no action for now, but would put it in next year’s budget and start watching sales. They informally approved Taylor’s suggestion to just keep using the mower with the old deck until it quits and have the new one in reserve.

The board agreed Water and Sewer Assistant Michelle Pilkington should be allowed to stay overnight in Rhinelander in preparation for a long day of certification tests starting at 9 a.m. Testing will be for three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon.


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