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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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City To Push Collection Of Personal Property Taxes

Information presented at the City of Peshtigo Finance Committee meeting Monday, March 24 shows that the UDAG and Revolving Loan funds are in good financial condition, despite three loans that are in default and one that is past due.

The Revolving Loan Fund, with $340,000 in loans out and an estimated cash balance remaining of $175,629, has only one account in default. That is $3,614 owed by Shane and Kathleen Walters on an initial loan of $10,000, on which the final payment was due in March of 2010.

The UDAG Fund has loans out totaling $1,056,592, including $253,025 owed by the City of Peshtigo. The fund has $2,100,000 in CDs and a cash balance of $395.466, for a total on hand of $2,495,467 available to help businesses expand or locate in the City of Peshtigo.

The city, Dumke and Marinette County have been working to resolve issues with loans to Dumke Forest Products. On an original loan of $150,810, a total of $150,146 is in default.

Mayor Al Krizenesky said Dumke has been working with his bank. Krizenesky said the city is willing to accept a split position on a first mortgage, but will not settle for a second mortgage. Meanwhile, he said,Dumke isn’t answering calls, and if this refinancing attempt doesn’t go through the city will have to foreclose.

A $31,500 loan made to Oestreich in 2006 for the property located adjacent to the Municipal Building is in default with a balance of $26,408. Krizenesky said Oestreich had made a payment on the property taxes and had presented a bill to the person who has been parking regularly on the property, so he must be around. Krizenesky said he had checked with City Attorney Dave Spangenberg and found it is legal for Oestreich to charge for parking on his property.

Alderman Mike Behnke, who was running the meeting in the absence of Finance Chair Tom Gryzwa, commented the building has been vacant so long, it’s become almost blighted. He commented that at one point the city had considered putting a parking lot there, but didn’t, and now all the businesses around it are suffering.

Behnke commented if Oestreich does not come through with some payments, foreclosure action may be necessary.

After viewing a long list of delinquent personal property taxes dating back to 2010, the two committee members present - Behnke and Alderman Debbie Sievert - voted to have the City Attorney send official requests for payment. Deputy Clerk/Treasurer Anita Morois said their office also sends out bills each month. The totals are $18,942 in original bills and $21,987 after interest is added.

Many are for personal property charges on manufactured homes that are levied in lieu of real estate taxes.

Former Alderman Mary Lock, who is unopposed in a bid to return to her aldermanic seat in the April 1 elections, was present as an observer. She recalled Council had been advised a few years ago to take action quickly on delinquent mobile home taxes as the city has no way to collect if the owners move them out, and no way to stop the move if there is no lien.

Morois pointed out the city has only until April 1 to file tax liens for 2012 personal property tax delinquencies, and it is already too late to file for 2010 and 2011 unless the property owner has filed for bankruptcy or gone out of business, provided there have been efforts to collect.

Personal property taxes on manufactured homes can be paid in two installments, in January and July, just as regular real estate taxes, but the first half payment must be made by January 31 or the entire amount becomes delinquent.

Largest debtor on the Personal Property delinquency list is Dumke Forest Products, which owes $2,302 from 2010, $1,671 from 2011, $1,263 from 2012, and $915 from 2014. All the balances include interest accumulated to date.

Other balances totaling over $1,000 are owed by Paul Williams, $1,251 from 2011, $1,057 from 2012, and $835 from 2013; Lamar Advertising of Green Bay, $3,038 from 2013, and Donald Douglas, $1,169 from 2013.

Due to changes in ownership, the amount of time that has passed, and advice from Spangenberg that it would cost more than it’s worth to collect, the committee voted to write off a $337.72 personal property tax bill issued to The Quarter Mile in 2010. The property and the business that leased it changed hands a few times since then, and currently is again owned by the Brown family.

This should be a lesson for us to act faster! commented Behnke.

Bills for improvements at the Wastewater Treatment Plant to facilitate city operation continue to come in. Public Works Director George Cowell said the special acid resistant countertops are being installed. Work should be complete by the end of the week.

The committee agreed to take no action at this time on bids for the proposed new security system at Badger Park, and instead refer it back to the Parks and Recreation Committee. The six bids received were opened on Friday during the Parks and Recreation Committee meeting. On Saturday he and Parks and Rec Director David Zahn analyzed them and decided they want more information before making a recommendation.

Zahn said he was very happy with the quality of the bids that were received, but there were at least two entirely different concepts on how the security camera system could work. Zahn said one in particular offers possibilities of being expanded in future to provide security at other city facilities. Behnke said the bids are good for 60 days, and there is no rush until the weather improves. He also preferred not to have the Finance Committee act until Gryzwa returns, since he had some ideas on where to find the funds. Bids ranged from about $18,000 to $30,000, some more, some less.

The city hall will soon have a new Minolta Bizhub 224e copy machine. The committee agreed to accept a lease/purchase offer from Cooper Office Equipment at $94.37 per month plus one cent per copy for 3,500 copies a month. The contract price includes $5.91 per month to give the city the right to buy the machine for $1 at the end of the 5-year lease period.

Behnke commented the former copy machine provider wanted to charge an additional $2,000 if the city wanted to buy the machine, and if not, they wanted the city to ship it back to them in good working condition at a cost of $1,000. Cooper will take custody of the old machine and ship it back for $400.

While reviewing bills for payment, Sievert asked how much costs increased because of a state privacy law that led to putting bills in envelopes rather than on post cards. Morois said it is about a wash. Postage is higher, 48 cents each compared with 32 cents, but printing the new bills is cheaper and they have space for messages to city residents. Incidentally, she noted the government now says the post cards are okay after all. She seemed to feel, and the committee agreed unofficially, that they will stay with the envelope version of the bills. Objections from municipalities and utilities all over the state apparently led to the change of heart at the state level.

The committee approved a long list of non-lapsing funds in which money remaining from 2013 will be carried forward to the 2014 budget. Of the total $792,034 being transferred, the largest single amounts are in street equipment: $235,750; Street Construction: $129,048, and Street Construction - JT Funds: $275,744.


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