VILLAGE OF LA FARGE
Regular Board Meeting Monday, November 14, 2022
1). Village President Cheryl Purvis called the regular meeting of the La Farge Village Board to order at 6:30 p.m. at the Emergency Services building. Roll Call. All Board Members were present: Frank Quinn, Karen Leis, Terry Jensen, Barbara Melvin, Aaron Appleman, Aaron Nemec, and Cheryl Purvis.
Also present: News reporters Lonnie Muller and Bonnie Sherman, Public Works Manager Wayne Haugrud, Utility Clerk Greg Lawton, Mark Olson, Attorney Jacob Menn, Attorney George Wilbur, Police Chief Steve Palmer, and Clerk Kimberly Walker.
2). Verification was given of meeting publishing in the La Farge Episcope, and of posting at the Bank, Post Office, and Village Office on November 10, 2022.
3). Melvin moved, Quinn seconded to approve the previous meetings minutes: (10-10-22/Regular Village board meeting; 10-18-22/Regular Library board meeting; 10-24-22/Finance & Personnel committee meeting; 11-3-22/Police committee meeting; 11-3-22/Finance & Personnel committee meeting; and 11-10-22/Zoning Board of Appeals meeting. (Carried).
4). Correspondence: Delta 3 Engineering has invited the board to a client appreciation event on December 9th, from 4-9p.m. in Platteville.
5). Public Comment: Mark Olson, 110 S. Maple Street, was present, on his ongoing problem in his back yard. He was also here in September for the water runoff from his neighbor. With the recent rain, the water was 4’ higher than his land. In the past, the only time there was water was when it flooded. He passed out pictures showing the water. Ever since Jon Turner filled his property there’s been problems. Mark said the village gave him the dirt from their street project and was promised a road tube would be put in. Jon and he got into a feud, and Jon hasn’t done anymore. The DNR has been contacted. Mark rented a pump last week and pumped the water out onto the street. Cheryl said this is not an agenda item, but she will talk with Wayne more on who’s responsibility this is and get back to him.
6). Utility business: The streets & utilities committee met ahead of this meeting on possible sewer and water increases. Greg explained the water first. The last increase was in 2020, and just inflationary. The last full rate case was 2014. Our rate of return is negative. We’ve had some large repair bills to the wells this year.
We are eligible to do a simplified rate increase, which is less cost to us. Looking at 4.5%, effective February 1, 2023, pending PSC approval. For a small user, this may be around $1.03 per month, up to $4,93 for commercial. Jensen moved, Quinn seconded to approve the increase for the water rates for 2023 by 4.5%. (Carried). This can be done every 12 months. Look at again next year.
**The sewer rate increase is part of a 4-year plan, recommended 2 years ago by our auditors. 2023 is step 3.
This would also be effective February 1st. Looking at a 6% fixed charge and 13% increase. The impact monthly is $3.84 and $5.73 for a 2-person home and $13.10 for a family. The sewer is not regulated, so no PSC approval is needed. Melvin moved, Jensen seconded to increase the sewer rate to Step 3 for 2023. (Carried).
**Discussed the electrical substation relocation project. The bids came in higher than the 2021 figure. We have received a little over 2 million in grant funds but are still short almost $800,000. The substation relocation is in our TIF district area, so we can look at the TIF funds to pay the overage. We contacted our auditors and have the funds available. We will have to delay the other projects we were looking to do, as this is priority #1. Jensen moved, Quinn seconded to approve this $800,000 coming from the TIF. (Carried). We will let the DOA know, so we can move forwarded.
**The low bidder on the substation project was Michaels, at $2,795,693.51. Quinn moved, Nemec seconded to award the bid to Michaels for this amount. (Carried).
**Regular utility business: Wayne reported Dairyland Power is doing upgrades to the Plum Run substation that we are fed off from. November 7th we were taken offline (for about 2 weeks) and are being fed thru Vernon Electric’s line from the substation in Viola. There have been a few blinks, due to this.
**The radiator has been repaired and reinstalled back on the generator. We can generate now if need too.
7). Old Business: Attorneys Jacob Menn and George Wilbur were present to discuss the abatement issue for Kathy Hart’s property. George is representing Kathy, whose position is to clean up her property. Currently though, she doesn’t have a job or the money to clean it up. As a sign of good faith, when she first received the notice, she rented a dumpster and did some, but has a lot more to go. The status is the village has filed a suit asking the court to declare this a nuisance. If the village wins, they have the right to go in, pay for dumpsters to clean it up, and put it on the tax roll to eventually recover the funds. George is suggesting putting the lawsuit aside and accomplish the same thing with less costs in litigation to both. They’re asking the village to start with a 20-yard dumpster, and she can start filling it. When that gets full, the village can keep track of the cost and get another one. We could file a stipulation with the court to put the suit on hold,
and that Ms. Hart consents for the village to put these expenses on her taxes if she’s unable to pay it. She says she has friends to help her, and George feels it’s worth a try to get this cleaned up. Cheryl asked for a time frame. The village agreed to keep the suit on, set a timeline with the attorneys, and get a dumpster delivered to see if she gets it full. The two attorneys will get together and work on this paperwork. Quinn moved, Nemec seconded to advise our attorney to enter into a stipulation with Ms. Hart for cleanup of her property and any costs to the village may be put on her tax roll for recovery within an agreed upon timeline.
(Carried). Try to file next week, with a dumpster to be delivered by December 1st.
8). Quinn moved, Jensen seconded to convene into closed session, in accordance with Wisconsin State Statutes section 19.85 (1)(c) and (1)(g), to discuss personnel matters on compensation and to confer with
legal counsel concerning strategy by the board which it is or is likely to become involved. (Carried).
9). Jensen moved, Quinn seconded to reconvene to open and continue with the meeting. (Carried).
10). David Ronnfeldt had requested to be on the agenda but was not present.
11). We have $79,444 in ARPA funds. The Finance & Personnel committee met a second time on this and are recommending using this toward the cost to upgrade the old phone communication system between he wells and water tower. This is important to get done. Previously the cost was $64,00+, but since February have gone up to $83,000. We can save some money by doing some things ourselves, so looking at around $75,000. If approved, can order this right away to lock in the prices. Melvin moved, Jensen seconded to approve using the ARPA funds on the well communication. (Carried).
12). Quinn moved, Appleman seconded to approve operator licenses for Abby Wood (training completed 10/26/22), Emily Larson (training completed 02/14/21), Chelsea Collar (training completed 10/15/22), and Dianna Otto (training completed 11/8/22). (Carried).
13). At the October annual Ambulance Association meeting, it was approved to buy into the Service Award program (like the Fire Dept). It is a retention/recruitment plan for volunteers, like a retirement. The State matches what is put in. It’s a good program. A resolution needs to be passed for the village to be the “host”. The money comes in from the ambulance for this and we pay it out to the company. Jensen moved, Melvin seconded to pass the “Resolution to Participate in the Wisconsin Service Award Program” for the Ambulance Association. (Carried).
14). Quinn moved, Nemec seconded to approve the Animal Care Provider Agreement with the Driftless Humane Society for the 2023 year, for the per animal dogs only plan. (Carried). Cost is $200 per unclaimed dog, and an initial fee of $250.00 due in January.
15). Police Report/Update: Police Chief Palmer just entered the meeting. He was in training at Pewaukee for the day. His monthly report was sent to the board. He said his first month was very busy. He’s making a lot of good progress. Had a drug meeting at the church right before he arrived. His eyes were opened to the drug issues in town. This is a priority for him to work on. The board commented he’s doing a good job.
16). Committee Reports: Barb mentioned the library board met and did their 2023 budget and Library Assistant Becky Hooker is retiring in March.
17). Jensen moved, Quinn seconded to approve payment of the bills. (Carried).
18). Quinn moved, Nemec seconded to approve the compensation for the employees for 2023 and for a change in health insurance companies as discussed in closed session. (Carried).
19). Purvis reviewed highlights of the proposed budget for 2023. In 2022, we had a good year. She pointed out the areas that were up. We increased our fund balance, which helps our cash flow. Overall, from 2022 to 2023, the budget only went up $1,374. For 2022, the expenses were under by $113,000. This is in part due to 5 months with no police officer, being short a street supervisor for a while, and not doing any street paving, as we have been busy with other projects. No one had any questions. Quinn moved, Jensen seconded to approve the 2023 proposed budget for publication and set Thursday, December 1, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. for the Public Budget Hearing, with a special meeting to follow for adoption of the budget. (Carried).
*Jensen moved, Nemec seconded to adjourn. (Carried). Adjourned at 7:53 p.m.
Kimberly Walker, Village Clerk/Treasurer