Pound Board Refers Sikich Audit Results To AuthoritiesIssue Date: September 12, 2019
At a special session on Friday, Sept. 6, Pound Village Board met in closed executive session to receive results of the forensics audit of village financial records that they had agreed to have done by Sikich Auditing of Milwaukee after a special closed session meeting on Jan. 17 of this year. Contents of the 9-page audit report have not been made public at this time.
Meanwhile, the board is still waiting for results of a regular audit of Village finances from 2016 forward for which they had hired the local accounting firm, Johnson and Rennie, months before approving the special Sikich forensics audit. There was almost no mention of either audit at the board's regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9.
Participating in Friday's 5 p.m. special meeting were Village President Terry Earley, trustees Mary Meyer, David Navis and John Homontowski, Clerk/Treasurer Diane Patz, Village Attorney William J. Vande Castle, and the Sikich auditor, who presented the 9-page audit report and was on hand to respond to questions from board members. Trustee Mike Rogodzinski was unable to attend.
After nearly an hour and a half behind closed doors with the auditor and the village attorney the board returned to open session and without further discussion or dissent approved a motion that "the action that had been discussed in closed session is to be followed up by the clerk and lawyer to be forwarded to proper authorities for review." Earley, Navis, Homontowski and Meyer all voted in favor just before the meeting adjourned at 6:23 p.m.
Navis had recommended the Sikich audit at the board's regular January meeting on the basis of information he had obtained from participating in a League of Municipalities training session.
The motion to hire Sikich that was approved without dissent at the special meeting on Jan. 17 was something of a repeat of a motion approved by three to two vote of the Village Board at its regular monthly meeting on Monday, Jan. 7. Motion at that time, made by Navis and seconded by Earley, was to hire Sikich to come and do a financial audit for two years - 2013 and 2014. Navis had estimated the cost would be about $15,000. Voting in favor at that meeting were Navis, Earley and Homontowski. Opposing votes were cast by Meyer and Rogge.
Subsequently, the board was advised by then Clerk/Treasurer Patricia Schutte that the Jan. 7 motion was not valid because it was not on the agenda. That led to holding the special closed session meeting on Jan. 17.
Schutte resigned her Clerk/Treasurer position on June 3 and was subsequently replaced by Diane Patz. Her husband Kevin Schutte continues as Director of Public Works, the village's only other full time employee.
Among other items at its regular monthly board meeting on Monday, Sept. 9 the board approved purchase of an employee time punch clock, approved the final four pages of the village's first-ever employee handbook, and authorized Patz to attend whatever clerk/treasurer meetings and seminars she believes will be beneficial. Meyer will also attend the session on presidential election training.
Rogodzinski, who had volunteered his time to run a Fall Cleanup Day for the village, reported 11 families showed up on Saturday, with several making a number of trips to bring discards from different family member households. They filled one dumpster completely and another was about one third to one half full.
Rogodzinski said he enjoyed working for the cleanup day, and it was a good chance for him to meet people he has never met during his 28 years as a village resident.
He suggested they might want to raise the price of TV set disposal for next year. He took in $57 at 30 cents per pound, but had been told that price was low compared to what other places charge to dispose of TVs.
A few people brought cardboard, and were cooperative when told that had to go to the recycling center. A lot of scrap metal came in, and about half a dozen toilets. There had been no paint issues to deal with, and Rogodzinski said that was a good thing because they were not allowed to accept lead based paint. Schutte said there is a container there for non-lead paint.
"I think it went very well and I'd like the board to consider it again for next year, perhaps also in spring," Rogodzinski said, adding that he would volunteer to run the Cleanup Day again if the other board members agree it should be held. He said several of the village residents who took advantage of the Fall Cleanup Day thanked the board for holding it.
Schutte reported village residents can again bring brush to recycling site. He said he had gotten the site cleaned up after brush piles there were removed by a contractor hired by Earley to do the chipping needed to clean up fallen limbs in the aftermath of the August storms. Signs at that site were knocked down and will need to be replaced.
Schutte reminded everyone they can bring branches and brush, but not stumps and tree roots, to the recycling center site for disposal.
In an update on storm damage Earley asked if everything is caught up now, and Schutte said Bucksaw will be coming back as time allows to remove trees that were broken or uprooted during the storms but got hung up in other trees and did not completely fall.
Schutte asked if the person (Arndt Tree Service) who came to chip the trees and brush that were collected along village streets had been paid and was told he was. Schutte asked Arndt if he had insurance and if he had filed an insurance certificate with the village and were told he had. Schutte commented he doesn't get to see the insurance certifications any more so he wasn't sure.
Schutte reported he has been mowing a lot of grass and had gotten the concrete-filled storm sewer pipe on Walker Street opened up.
On the Water and Sewer Utility side of his job, Schutte reported the water plant produced 708,400 gallons of water, an average of 22,916 gallons per day, but over 1.4 million gallons of wastewater - an average of 45,586 gallons per day - went to the wastewater treatment plant in Coleman. This means significant amounts of storm water are getting into the sanitary system and the village is paying for treatment of nearly twice as much sewage as it should be.
Schutte said he had recently attended a one-day water utility school at Plover.
Patz reported she had attended a 1-day training seminar near Milwaukee hosted by the Municipal Clerk's Association and found it very interesting. "I learned a lot, heard about a lot of good resources and made a lot of good networking connections."
Later on the agenda she had requested permission to attend another Municipal Clerk's training session and instead Navis moved to allow her to go to any trainings she feels would be beneficial. That motion was unanimously approved.
Rogodzinski, reporting for the Fire Department in the absence of Chief Turner Gross, said the Fire Department had lost $406.94 on its annual picnic in August, but after income from sweepstakes ticket sales and donations had profited by just over $4,000. He said next year they probably will not have the truck pulls, "They're just too expensive!"
Rogodzinski said before long the state will be requiring driver/operator certification for firefighters driving or operating fire engines, tenders and ladder trucks. He and three other village firefighters had attended a recent pumper truck driver/operator training session and six attended a similar session for tenders, "and we all passed." Ladder truck training is coming up. He said right now, if the firefighters are not certified they are not allowed to drive the big trucks. This does not apply to brush trucks, equipment vehicles and other smaller pieces of equipment.
Later in the meeting the board unanimously approved a request for the Fire Department to hold training sessions at the Community Center without charge every Monday starting at 6:30 p.m., provided no paying group asks to use it. He said Tom Prue, a member with much firefighting experience, will do the training, and the Community Center is cleaner, better lighted and better equipped than the fire station, where they need to move vehicles out when trainings are held inside.
The northeast corner of the fire station roof - the old DNR Ranger Station - had been torn off during the recent storms. Schutte had submitted some storm damage claims to the village's insurance carrier and an adjustor had come to assess probable remediation costs.
Correspondence for the meeting included a letter to Schutte and three damage checks totaling $18,912 from the insurance company to cover damages minus the $1,000 deductible. The checks were $17,718 for the roof repair, and $134.64 and $1,059 for torn banner flags, broken lights and other damages, plus a boiler repair issue. The board now had to decide whether or not to accept the checks as full payment for their damages.
Meyer asked if the $17,718 covered the cost of the roof repairs. Patz suggested they should get bids to find out what the actual cost would be.
Schutte said the adjustor had done the assessing and he believed that would cover the cost.
Navis felt they should get some estimates and then decide whether or not to keep the checks, and added they need to get bids, not quotes, since the price will most likely be over $15,000.
It was agreed they will advertise for bids and meanwhile Patz will call the insurance company to find out how long they can keep the checks before making a decision.
Meyer asked if Schutte could save the village money by doing the roofing work himself.
Schutte said he had already patched it, but had been unable for the past two years to find time to do the re-roofing job. He said the roofing cannot be patched any more, it needs to be torn off and totally re-done. He then launched into an argument against any attempts to "put a band-aid on an historic building that was built because of the Great Depression."
He said unlike the depression of 2007 people were starving in the Great Depression of 1929, "and that's the significance of that building!"
"I'm not trying to belittle the importance of that building, but it is not on the historic register," Meyer told him. She went on to say that means there is no requirement to do the re-roofing with the same type of roof that was there originally, nor does it mean it has to look like the original if they chose to go with a metal roof. She said a friend had recently paid $35,000 for re-roofing a house far smaller than the former Fire Station with metal made to look like the original.
Board members agreed they should get bids. Earley noted the insurance letter had pretty much spelled out different parts of the job and could be used to set bid specifications.
Meyer suggested they ask for bids with various options on type of roofing material to be used, and a motion to that effect was unanimously approved.
Other correspondence for the meeting included an invitation from Marinette County Highway Department to a meeting for public works professionals and local officials at Wausaukee Town Hall at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18 to discuss distribution of state and local aid funds for next year's road construction season. Money from programs like LRIP, MSI, TRID, etc. will be granted on a competitive basis to communities that apply to have specific street/highway improvement projects funded.
Schutte said at the Highway Department meeting members will be elected to a county committee to decide who gets funding in this grant round. The committee must make its decisions by mid-October.
Earley asked Schutte to attend. Navis said he would also like to go, and Meyer also volunteered. Earley then said he will try to get there if his job allows leaving early. Meyer wondered if Patz should also attend to learn more about submitting applications for project funding.
That led to discussion of what proposed projects they should seek funding for, and a reminder from Navis that their ability to spend anything not in the budget is severely restricted. He repeated, as he has said at past meetings, that they are within $100,000 of their allowable debt limit as set by state law, "so borrowing is not an option."
Back in May, when they were asked to pay for engineering work on a proposed County Q reconstruction project that would include replacement of sewer and water lines they were told the total project cost would be about $833,470. Estimates were that replacement of sewer lines would cost about $255,000 and water line replacement would come to about $210,000. Since the road improvement grants would not pay for the sewer and water line work that needs to be done with it, the board agreed the village in no way can afford to do that project at this time. They looked over the 5-year plan for road projects and decided the most likely would be the first project listed - repair aprons to the Hwy. 141 overpass where Schutte repairs bumps every spring.
After some discussion the board unanimously approved purchase of a time clock for $289 so Schutte, Patz and possible part-time employees can officially punch in and out each day. Schutte asked how he would do that, since he separately tracks time he spends on utility work versus village maintenance work. Earley said he will no longer need to spend time tracking those hours. On the basis of past reports they will allocate percentages of his time, and time that Patz spends, on work to be billed to the utility and time spent for general village duties. Schutte questioned how he would do that, and Earley assured him that will be taken care of.
As a heads up, village residents were reminded that census workers will be coming around, and they should be sure to ask for credentials before admitting anyone to their homes or responding to questions. Dennis Lepinski, who was at the meeting in regard to the proposed mobile home park, said this year questions will only be aimed at verifying that structures are actually there, and next year they will be doing the real census.
At the start of discussion before approving the final pages of the Employee Handbook Rogodzinski asked if they truly only allow one week of paid vacation time each year for employees, regardless show long they have worked.
"I'm not trying to bleed the village dry, but everywhere I have worked you got more than one week vacation after you'd been there a while," he commented. He felt it was only fair to give more vacation after a set number of years.
Navis said formerly employees got no paid vacation, but in view of village finances, the board had settled on one week. He noted they felt one week is better than nothing. Rogodzinski had not yet been seated on the board when that decision was made.
Schutte noted Patz just started in June and will get the week vacation, and he will also get one week, although he has been a village employee for nearly 8 years.
"I'm on your side when it comes to this," Rogodzinski told him.
Schutte also asked if he would get holiday pay for New Year's Day and Memorial Day.
It was decided that Schutte will get his one week of paid vacation for this year, but not pay for those two holidays because that part of the handbook was not adopted until June. This year he and Patz will be paid for the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Also after some discussion the board unanimously agreed to contract with Marinette County to collect the first half property taxes for the village. Cost is 85 cents per parcel plus a $250 administrative fee. The county already collects second half payments for all municipalities.
"I like it the way it is," Rogodzinski declared. "I don't want to drive to Marinette to pay my taxes!" He was reminded he can pay at Peshtigo National Bank, or could mail in his payment.
Before the vote Patz said having the county handle tax payments will make things much easier for her, and the money received would get into the towns bank account sooner, since she would not drive to the bank to make daily deposits.
The agenda called for seeking a new engineering firm since the engineer for KeeMo Inc., who has been village engineer, is retiring. The board has no record of retaining a village engineer except for specific projects. They unanimously agreed that Patz should get information from neighboring communities on who does their engineering work and how it is handled.
Homontowski wondered if they needed to retain an engineering consultant, or if they could just hire one for specific projects as needed.
Homontowski and other board members agreed they should do research at this time and put it on the October agenda for more discussion and possible action.
Lepinski asked that the agenda for the October meeting also provide for discussion and action on a contingency plan should the culvert under the access to his property collapse. The village would need legal authority to do the repairs since they do not own right of way there.
Schutte asked why former Utility Board members Jay Martens, Jerry Rogge and Patricia Schutte were not paid for their last three meetings. Patz asked why Patricia Schutte had not paid them, since she was still clerk/treasurer at the time.
Kevin Schutte also asked for discussion of his cell phone use. He said for the past seven years he has been using his personal cell phone for village business. "You can buy me a new cell phone or pay me for using mine," he declared.
Homontowski suggested before the next meeting Schutte should decide what percentage of his phone use is for village business. There was general agreement, however, that the village should buy him a separate phone.
Schutte said he also has been using his personal camera to take photos for the village. Earley assured him whatever new phone the village buys for him will also function as a camera.
Treasurer's reports were accepted as presented,and vouchers were reviewed by board members at the start of the meeting prior to being approved for payment before the meeting adjourned. The village has $45,156.60 in general checking after paying expenses of $39,112.82
There is $20,038.50 in one money market account, $3,140.97 in an administrative account and $274.40 in petty cash, for a total of $68,610.47 cash on hand. Loan payments of $146,846.44 and $121,196. 13 are due on Sept. 15 of 2020 and a loan payment of $280,107.42 is due in 2015.
The utility had expenses of $20,764.86 in August and receivables of $27,134.65, with a balance of $13,616 in checking, $15,293 in money market, and $30,556 in a utility CD, for a total of $59,465.47 in all accounts. The utility owes $459,588 on a loan from Stephenson National Bank and Trust.
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