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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Budget Workshop Held For Town Of Peshtigo Supervisors

Issue Date: January 31, 2019

A Special Town of Peshtigo Meeting was held on Thursday, Jan. 24 for the purpose of amending the Town Building Inspector Contract and a Budget Workshop for Town Supervisors.

Chairperson, Denise Wiedemeier said, "The way the ordinance is now, it doesn't specify well enough that the building inspector would also be zoning administrator. It is listed as administrator only and not zoning".

Up to this point, it was just an assumption that the Building Inspector position was also the Zoning Administrator. It was then approved to amend the contract stating the Building Inspector is also required to act as Zoning Administrator.

Wiedemeier felt the need to hold a Town budget workshop to make the supervisors more aware of how to manage their budgets and ask questions when and why a budget was amended and get more involved in the budgeting process.

Vilas Schroeder, Town of Peshtigo Treasurer, asked questions of the supervisors including: How are each other supposed to know what each Supervisor is spending on their departments? How do you identify over-expenses? Is treasurer properly amending the budget? If there is an amendment, that should be a red flag and you should be asking questions why the amendment was done. Schroeder added, a negative number means under budget and a positive number means over budget.

Wiedemeier added, "I am very very proud of staying within the budget? There was some overspending on roads alone. Even though we overspent $160,000 on roads throughout the year it was amended and the expenses still look good".

"How do we stop that? When over budget, we have to ask questions. If any board member has any questions we can ask Vilas" Wiedemeier said. She also added, the treasurer looks at three years of history to develop a budget and asked Schroeder if he can split the budget out for each supervisor with income and expenses.

Schroeder said, "Yes I can do that as long as they are going to use it and I'm not doing the extra work for nothing". "I can give them every bill that is under an account, just ask me and I can provide them with what they need. I have no problem with anyone asking questions, I can run a report on each account".

A good example of an amendment was the June 2017 summer storm and the 2018 snow storm. That is something that cannot be budgeted for and the budget needed to be amended to account for the extra expenditures involved in cleanup, repairs, labor, etc.

Schroeder added, "Training is a good investment, It is not always in the budget so if needed, it will be amended. Every year the budget starts over, we start at zero and go from there".

"Bottom line is, when we see an amendment come through, we have to ask questions of what is being amended and why and need to keep good notes in our minutes as to why amendments were done like this", Wiedemeier added.

Supervisor, Mark Monnette commented, "The Chairperson has to justify everything though, we have been using the attorney a lot more than before and the Chair should be able to answer all those questions".

Wiedemeier responded with, "$50,000 on roads without approval, that's wasteful spending, not attorney fees".

Wiedemeier and Schroeder conversed stating they are trying to teach the board to ask questions, we are elected by the taxpayers to make the best decisions with what we have to work with. We have lost the meaning of Town meetings and need to start taking it back and have good communication at board meetings. No matter who sits as Chairperson, they better have answers. We can't control some expenses, so the budget sometimes needs to be amended to cover the expenses. A budget is a best guess at that point in time.

Also discussed was Capital Outlay. "Wiedemeier said, technically capital outlay is for new machinery or something that can depreciate down". Schroeder added, "It is a fund reserve in our back pocket, it is there for use, but with discretion and discussion".

Schroeder ended with, "We have a low tax rate because of the "Peaking Plant" that subsidizes $255,000 as a tax base and if we lose that, our tax rate would probably double. The Town of Peshtigo receives a shared revenue from taxes on the Wisconsin Public Service peaking plant that was put back into operation after the nuclear power plant at Kewaunee was closed.


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