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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Wagner Asks To Exceed Levy Limits To Pay Rescue Squad

Issue Date: September 23, 2020

Like other municipalities in the Wausaukee Rescue Squad service area, the Town of Wagner is looking at a huge hike in their contract price for rescue squad service - from $14,280 for 2020 to $71,400 for 2021. The proposal was explained to the Town Board by Fire Chief Tom Arthur at its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 9.

After a long discussion, Town Chair Steve Renikow Sr. said the requested increase will be on the agenda for the monthly board meeting and preliminary budget meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

The board then approved a resolution to hold a special town meeting at which electors will be asked to allow the town's 2021 property tax levy to exceed the state levy limits by $71,400.

Before the vote, Tom Arthur had explained the proposed Rescue Squad price hike. He said currently the Squad has a volunteer structure, with volunteers only paid a flat dollar amount per call that does not reflect the actual amount of time worked. Membership rates continue to decline. They currently only have eight volunteers, and four of them are on call an average of 140 hours per week.

The Wausaukee Rescue Squad is now proposing a full time pay structure for EMTs. Benefits would be constant coverage at the station, quicker response times and an increased number of staff. EMTs would be paid $15 per hour while on call, with a cap at 40 hours a week to avoid paying overtime. First responders would be paid $13 per hour and drivers $11 per hour while on duty.

Arthur said the Rescue Squad cannot continue to operate under the current conditions, so if the serviced towns do not agree to the new contracts and/or if 10 to 15 full time employees cannot be obtained, the Rescue Squad will have to shut its doors.

Arthur said this would result in the town having to contract with another third party which is estimated to be significantly more expensive.

Renikow stated he had contacted Aurora Bay Area Medical service last year to compare prices, and they are not interested in covering the Town of Wagner unless there are no other options.

Renikow asked if the contract could be changed from a one-time payment in February to a quarterly payment, and Tom Arthur confirmed this can be done. Mark Sperberg questioned the length of the contract and Tom Arthur stated it was for one year. Supervisor Mollie Arthur asked if the contract cost would change depending on how many towns agreed to the pricing, and Tom Arthur stated that would need further review if applicable.

After stating the contract would be on the agenda for the next board meeting, Renikow said the board would have to adopt a resolution in order to exceed the levy limit. A public meeting would be held and the electors would vote on it. The proposed amount of the levy increase would be non-negotiable and if voted down for a different proposed amount the approval process would have to start over from the beginning.

Renikow said his recommendation would be to add the full $71,400 to the levy as this would give the town a little extra funding if the contract amount changed. If the addition to the tax levy passes it will impact all tax payers. If voted down it will mainly impact residents, as these funds will have to be deducted from other services in the normal budget. Mill rate calculations will be provided at the public meeting. Motion to approve resolution to exceed the levy limit by $71,400 was made by Supervisor Ed Delfosse, seconded by Supervisor Mollie Arthur and approved.

In addition to board members, Clerk Cassie Brown and 14 members of the public were present for the meeting. Treasurer Margo Renikow was absent.

At the start of the meeting Renikow asked to add two items to the agenda - the resolution to exceed the levy limit and authorization to purchase a Public Works truck. Arthur and Delfosse approved the request.

As the last action item of the meting Renikow explained the last truck considered for the Department of Public Works did not pass final inspection and was not purchased. Jim Brown has contacted a dealer who is expecting some trade-ins. At his request, Arthur and Delfosse authorized to look at the trucks when they come in, and make a purchase up to the $30,000 allocated in the budget.

While discussing the Aug. 12 meeting minutes, Renikow said a scheduled meeting on the proposed no wake ordinance for Lake Mary/Lake Julia had been cancelled due to Middle Inlet deciding not to pursue an ordinance. They had previously been advised that both towns would have to approve whatever ordinance is adopted.

According to Town of Middle Inlet minutes, most members of the public present for their public hearing on Thursday, Aug. 13 preferred to have the Lake Association handle the "no wake" hours without the town having to create an ordinance, and preferred keeping the "no wake" hours at 6 p.m. so Town Chair Richard Wade said the Middle Inlet Board would table the matter without taking action.

In other business at the Wagner meeting, Renikow reported several road signs were stolen over the weekend. Two signs were taken from Four Lakes Road and Boat Launch Road. He said work on Caylor Road is complete and Rademaker Road will be complete once the shouldering is done.

Jim Brown reported they had put up road signs and brushed on Grand Rapids Road. The warming building at the Recycling Center has been insulated.

There were no animal control updates.

The Board went into closed session to make a decision on hiring a housekeeper for the town hall, and after returning to open session agreed to hire Darcy Hermes for the position.

Fire Chief Tom Arthur reported the department had three calls since the last meeting. One was a false alarm, one was for a fire in Porterfield and one was a car accident. There were 22 hours spent on training and maintenance. Three state mandated tests were completed and three are left. Hose testing is scheduled and fire inspections are expected to be in October.

The Fire Department is discussing different options for the Halloween party. One option being considered is another trunk or treat but the Fire Department would buy all the candy and pre-bag it as a safety precaution. Any event would be held outside.

The annual 9/11 walk at the Packers stadium in Green Bay had been cancelled, but Arthur said there was to be a walk in Peshtigo and the Wagner Fire Department would be participating with trucks. Lastly, a virtual program for fire prevention is being reviewed.

The agenda called for discussion and possible action on the Old Rail Road property. Supervisor Mollie Arthur stated she tried calling and the resident didn't answer or return her phone call. The owner of the property was sent a letter by property inspector Jane Meissner, and it came back undeliverable. Renikow stated the Town will probably have to talk to the lawyer if they want to move forward with action.

Supervisor Mollie Arthur stated a boat was also burned on Old Rail Road property. Fire Chief Tom Arthur stated he called the DNR but they never got back to him. He questioned the Town's ability to clean up the property now that the building has been condemned. Renikow said the town could clean it up and add the expense to the tax bill but this needs to be researched further, so no action was taken.

Patty Michels has created a free demo website for the town through weebly.com. Cost of the upgraded version would be $12 per month. The demo version included links for news, a directory, community organizations etc. Shelley Sperberg asked if a link could be added to the County website and Michels confirmed this could possibly be done. She suggested that at least two people have access to maintain the website. Linda Wilke thanked Michels for her communications work in the town. Motion to approve the website for $12 per month was approved.

Renikow announced that the Recycling Center will be closed as a safety precaution on Saturday, Nov. 21, the opening day of rifle deer season.

The board approved Clerk Cassie Brown's request to purchase a DYMO label printer for absentee ballots. Brown said this will make the process faster and more efficient. Estimated cost for the printer and labels was $160.

During time for public comment Mark Sperberg stated he is a cottage owner on Boat Launch Road, and is requesting no parking signs to be placed on the road across from the residential property. He said excessive use of the boat launch is causing safety issues where boats and trailers are parking on the road and blocking driveways to the cottages. Quotes for the no parking signs were provided to the board. Also, Sperberg asked why the far north end of Boat Launch Road was not being plowed. He said a turn around was created for the plow trucks and it is still not being maintained. Renikow stated he would research this and add the items to the agenda for the next meeting.

Wade Fronsee told the board there have been ongoing problems with the boat launch on Lake Mary. The launch is being used as a beach and the Lake Association is having to clean up clothing, garbage, etc. This is a safety concern as it is causing issues when trying to place boats in the lake. He said lack of parking designation is also causing congestion, and a request was made to add this as an item to the agenda. Linda Wilke questioned if these issues should be addressed by the Lake Association. Wade Fronsee stated they are, but the Association has no authority, which is why they are bringing it to the Board for assistance.

Mike Caylor asked how to request an absentee ballot. Clerk Brown advised the best way was to apply on My Vote WI. However, if internet use is an issue a paper application can be sent.

Howard Anderson asked the Board to discuss a backup plan for grass cutting and Renikow said he will put it on the agenda for the next board meeting, which is to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, rather than the usual second Wednesday of the month.

Currently listed as agenda items for that meeting in addition to routine business are parking at the boat landing, discussion on grass cutting, the condemned depot on Old Rail Road, and the Wausaukee Rescue Squad contract.


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