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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Auditor: 2016 Was Good Year For City of Peshtigo Budget

In the annual audit report presented at the Peshtigo City Council meeting on Wednesday, April 5, Dan Macco of Schenck, SC gave the city a clean bill of financial health. He said the city is managing $33 million of public assets, including equipment, streets, buildings, etc. Changes in net position for 2016 were positive for both city operations and the Water and Sewer utilities. The city's general fund balance increased by $263,000, which Macco said is a good result and the result of "a very good budget year."

He said the financial reports City Council sees on a monthly basis are very accurate, and praised the city's record keeping as "very well done."

Government fund balances are up about $400,000 overall, Macco said. "You are in very good shape as you enter the current year."

He said the water utility rates show no significant variables and rates of return are consistent with operations.

Public Works Director George Cowell expressed concern about a pending $150,00 water main project, but was assured by Macco that the money to pay for it is already available in reserve funds and will not affect financial projections.

The TIF District had $59,000 in expenses and a $694,000 revenue increment, and will have about $1.5 million in unreimbursed expenses at the end of 2016.

The TIF project will be closed at the end of 2018 and money to cover the shortfall will be placed in escrow. That shortfall was projected at $300,000 last year, but now has been whittled down to a projected $250,000.

"Your TIF has been very successful," Macco declared. He said the city was able to finance several water projects through TIF proceeds, and in general, "the city was successful in managing its TIF funds to benefit all the citizens of Peshtigo."

To a question from Cowell, Macco said the city probably will need to look at a slight water rate increase to pay for the next project. He noted that the Water and Sewer utilities benefitted from use of TIF funds, which in turn benefits all citizens of the city.

At the close of the meeting Council went into a short closed executive session to discuss potential purchase of real estate. Upon returning to open session a motion was made by Alderman Mary Lock and seconded by Alderman Brigitte Schmidt to move forward to buy the land discussed in closed session and get it surveyed, and vote in favor was unanimous. No further details were release at this time. There may be more information available at the next Council meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18.

In other business at the meeting Council unanimously approved results of the vote canvass that returned aldermen Schmidt, Mike Behnke and Debbie Sievert to office for new two-year terms representing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd wards respectively.

Official canvass shows there were 111 voters in the First District, of which Rick Berth received 39 votes and Schmidt received 69.

There were 74 voters in the Second District, and 62 of them cast votes for Behnke. In the Third District there were 67 voters, and 60 of them voted for Sievert. There were no scattered votes enumerated.

New hours that would have the dumpster at the Public Works Department open only from 8 a.m. to noon on the first Monday of each month starting on Monday, May 1 was referred back to committee on motion of Streets and Drainage Committee Chair Sievert. The new dumpster hours may be on the agenda for the April 18 Council meeting.

A letter from Les Gertz of Zion Lutheran Church regarding use of Harper Park and other city facilities for their annual car show on July 22 was discussed at some length and then set aside until the next Council meeting. The request had not been through any committee. Gertz asked to block off Ellis Avenue from Thompson Street to McCagg Street from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the day of the event. They will need the Public Works Department to provide some picnic tables and put up a few street barricades, but they also want to park some of the antique cars on the grass at Harper Park and put up signs in the city's tree lawn, which Mayor Cathi Malke said is illegal.

Alderman Mary Lock objected to parking vehicles on the grass because of rutting that will occur if the ground is still very soft.

Alderman Jillian Schutte wondered why they do not park the vehicles on the street and put their concessions on the lawn in the park. They will be selling burgers, brats and hot dogs.

Police Chief Joseph FitzGerald is to contact the church to get some answers, and Behnke recommended that the Parks and Recreation Committee also should be involved.

A request from Ann Bartels of the Marinette County Land and Water Division to use Badger Park for Environmental Field Day again this year on Thursday, Sept. 28 was easily approved. Bartels noted that Historical Day is Saturday, Sept. 30, but said she needs to have the Field Day on the last week of September because of her schedule with youth groups at Camp Bird. She said the event starts at 8 a.m. and will be done by 11 a.m.

After explanations from License and Police Committee Chair Behnke, council approved a liquor license for Terrill Standish Fisher to operate the Colonial Club on Oconto Ave. The current license held by Dustin Downs will be surrendered.

A temporary Class B beer license was approved for St. Mary Catholic Church for Men's Steak Night on Thursday, May 11.

Operator's licenses were approved for Jeanne Lyn Gillespie and Stephanie Marie Jasch.

At the License and Police committee meeting on Thursday, March 9, Chief FitzGerald had reported that the department received a check for $3,800 from the Carl Lukash Foundation and will use the money to remodel the Police Department office. Furniture was to arrive on Monday, April 10, and Alderman Tom Gryzwa was to build some shelves.

Cowell reported that the fishing docks are all in on the lower and upper river areas. The new dock on the lower river park was built by the Parks Department and installed by Pubic Works. Road to the fishing area was graded and the concrete piles are gone, so the parking lot there will accommodate more vehicles.

Cowell asked residents to not put brush in the streets for pickup right now, since they are concentrating on getting leaves and sand picked up and the branches clog the sweeper. He said a vendor stopped by during the previous week to demonstrate a quiet street sweeper

Water Department personnel are aggressively approaching meter replacement, and two employees attended operator classes the previous week.

Public Works personnel have been out patching potholes, and have started repairing lawns damaged by winter snow plowing.

Council approved a recommendation to allow spending $7,340 from the Capital Improvement Fund to buy two new Panasonic Toughbooks for the Police Department.

The sludge thickener project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant is getting under way.

Tom Smith, of Tom Smith Inspections, LLC. reported he issued building permits to New Life Church for multiple signage on 810 Frontage Road; to Rooney Freimund to finish the basement at 425 N. Splake Court, and to Peshtigo Stone and Garden to construct four greenhouses at 870 Ogden Street.

He has worked on nuisance violations and complaints, and is making some progress at N2424 Old Cedar Way. So far, he said, the old appliances ad scrap metal have been removed and the owner is working on using some of the tires to build a playground, which he said is an acceptable use since there is no specific ordinance for residential play areas. The owner indicates his property is zoned General Industrial and he has a right to have some vehicles on site as the building at one time was a garage. Smith said the owner feels he was singled out for enforcement, and was told others with similar conditions will be contacted as he moves forward with the enforcement of property cleanup.

Smith had sent a registered letter to the owner at 550 East Park Street, but so far has not received return communication. He said if he does not get a response they will move to the next step for enforcement, which would be a citation to appear in court.

Smith told the owner at 751 Oconto Ave. he could wait until better weather and help from his family to clean up the yard. "Although it is starting to seem like spring think it is reasonable to give him additional time to get the job accomplished," Smith commented.

Changes to the city's personnel handbook were approved as recommended by the Personnel Committee. Copies are available in the Clerk/Treasurer's office and will be provided to all full time employees. City Attorney David Spangenberg said he had no issues with the changes.

Recommendation to hire six summer help students for the Parks and Recreation Department was approved.They are Mitchell VanVooren, Olivia Brabant, Walker Hipke, Megan Fifarek, Andrea Tonn and Brock Barrow.

Bob and Kay VanVooren were approved to return as Campground Hosts at Badger Park Campground. Malke commented they did a wonderful job last year.

A Personnel Committee recommendation to hire three summer help adults for the Parks and Recreation Department as chosen in closed session was postponed until the next Council meeting, which will be on Tuesday, April 18.


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