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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Council Denies Sewer Rate Reduction For BPM, Inc.

Issue Date: April 18, 2019

The Peshtigo City Council finished up old business on Tuesday, April 16 after which it adjourned "sine die" and then reconvened as the new council to reorganize and deal with other items as the new council. The major action item was a decision on a split four to two vote made after long discussion to deny the BPM, Inc. request for a reduction in rates they are charged for wastewater treatment. Voting in favor of the Water and Sewer Committee recommendation to deny were aldermen Jillian Schutte, Debbie Sievert, Brigitte Schmidt and Archer Leupp. Voting against the motion were Mike Behnke and John Berendt.

Jim Koronkiewicz, general manager of BPM, Inc., stated that whatever the Council decided, he would contact BPM, Inc. owner Jim Azzar, who would make the final decision on what way the company will go. When contacted Wednesday morning, Koronkiewicz acknowledged that BPM will contact their consultant and the DNR to begin the notification process for getting permits to construct their own water treatment facility.

The rate reduction request made by BPM., Inc. last December had led the Water and Sewer Committee to hire Reukert and Mielke, Inc, of Oconto Falls to do a rate study. Results of that study were presented in closed session contract discussions and had not been released to the council or the public when the committee recommendation to deny the reduction had come to Council for the first time at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 3. Decision was postponed at that time due to comments by several aldermen that they needed more information before they could vote on the issue.

Rate study results and other information was discussed in open session at the April 16 meeting before the vote was called.

Koronkiewicz has stated several times in recent months that BPM would consider constructing its own wastewater treatment facility if their request were denied. He also cautioned it might cause the company to cut back on operations in Peshtigo, or forego possible future expansions.

The old council portion of Tuesday's meeting lasted about 10 minutes. Action items included waiving the Badger Park Large Pavilion rental fee for the Head Start Program. Council members cited past practice before voting unanimously to wave the fee.

Dave Zahn, Parks & Rec Director, stated that with the Walleye season in full swing, 230 boats were launched on Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13. He showed the Council the stack of envelopes he received. Zahn also said the Badger Park Campground will open Friday, April 19 for the year.

On recommendation of the UDAG/RLF Committee, Council approved a $62,500 UDAG loan to Arbor Village, Inc. in Peshtigo at an interest rate of 3% for up to 20 years.

Council also approved the hiring of candidates for the Parks and Recreation Department for seasonal and summer help. They also approved the hiring of a person for the Public Works Sanitary Collection System position and candidates for Public Works summer help and general labor positions. Votes were based on recommendation of the Personnel Committee.

The old Council portion of the meeting lasted until 7:11 p.m., at which time the old Council adjourned "sine die" and the new Council was called to session. Aldermen Mike Behnke, Debbie Sievert and Brigitte Schmidt were all elected for new terms on the Council and there was no opposition

When the new council session began, Mayor Cathi Malke welcomed them to their new terms. One of the first orders of business was to elect a president of the council. Alderman Archer Leupp was elected as Council president a position previously held by Behnke. Leupp is starting his second year on the Council and is pastor of adult services at Faith Church in Peshtigo. He received five votes for Council president and he abstained from voting.

All committee assignments and appointments were approved for 2019 as recommended by Malke. They include:

Finance and Claims - Debbie Sievert, Chair, with Archer Leupp an Mike Behnke as members;

Fire, Lighting, and Building - Mike Behnke, Chair,with John Berendt and Jillian Schutte;

License and Police - Archer Leupp, Chair, with John Berendt and Debbie Sievert;

Parks and Recreation: - Brigitte Schmidt, with Jillian Schutte and Michael J. Behnke;

Streets and Drainage: - Jillian Schutte, Chair, with John Berendt and Brigitte Schmidt;

Judiciary - Jillian Schutte, Chair, with Archer Leupp and

Brigitte Schmidt;

Personnel - Debbie Sievert, Chair, with Michael J. Behnke and Archer Leupp;

Named to the Ethics Committee were Mary Seidl, 2018-2021, Continuing 2 years; Mark Lock, 2018-2021, Continuing 2 years; Tammy Kasal, 2019-2022, new 3-year appointment; Fred Meintz, 2019-2022, 3-year reappointment; Barbara Baumann and Gerald Valley, both from 2017 to 2020 and continuing for one year

Plan Commission: Mayor Catherine Malke, Presiding Officer; George Cowell, Director of Public Works; plus Donald Belonga, Marquita Limberg, Doug VanWinkle and Richard Thill.

Industrial Park Oversight Committee: Mayor Catherine Malke, Chair, with Michael J. Behnke and Jillian Schutte.

Returned to their city offices were City Attorney David Spangenberg; Deputy Weed Commissioner, Public works Director George Cowell; Fire Chief Steven R. Anderson; Assistant Fire Chief and Fire Prevention Inspector Charles Gardon; Second Assistant Chief Christopher Erickson, and Christopher Rohde, Captain and Head Truck Driver, Joel Ahrens Captain-Fire Prevention Inspector & Safety Officer, James Felker and Joe Bayer, Lieutenants, and firefighters

Dave Swiatnicki, Duane Neuzil, Eric Johnson, Nicole Kempka, Ryan Haulotte, Nels Peterson, Katie Rohde, Eian Ehlert, Cameron Ewaldt, Christopher Gardon, Tanner Lemery, and Michael Maus. The Fire Department has weekly training and informational meetings every Wednesday at 1900 hours (Except Holidays).

Other committees are:

Police Disciplinary Review Committee: Rick Berth, Stanley Nogalski, Ronald Strojny, Sandra Eklund and Gerald Valley.

Water and Sewer Committee: Thomas Gryzwa, Chairperson, Fred Meintz and Dan Seymour, with Public Works Director George Cowell as an ex-officio member.

Peshtigo RLF/UDAG Loan Fund Committee: Mayor Catherine Malke (nonvoting member), Tammy Kasal, Secretary, Tom Maxwell, Dan Seymour, Glenn Seyfert, Sandra Eklund, Debbie Sievert.

Board of Appeals: Stanley Nogalski, Jeffrey Hansen 2018-2021 Continuing; Barb Baumann 2019-2022 Reappointment, Kathleen Joy, Chairperson 2017-2020 Continuing, Mary Seidl 2017-2020 Continuing Rita Gulbertson Alternate, Ronald Strojny Alternate.

Board of Review, Mayor Catherine Malke, Assessor Jerry Pillath (nonvoting member), Clerk-Treasurer Tammy Kasal, Michael J. Behnke, Debbie Sievert.

The Peshtigo Times was again designated the official city newspaper and the Board of Review was set for Thursday, May 30.

In other action items the Council voted unanimously to approve a request from Mary Lock to move the Cans for Kids collection cage from the site at the Peshtigo Pharmacy to city owned property by the Tourist Information Booth near the water tower on the city's east side.

Lock stated the need for the move was the result of Bill Clement having sold his pharmacy. Before the vote Alderman Behnke asked Lock to update the Council on some of the background of the Cans for Kids program. Lock stated they started years ago collecting money for the skate board park and once that was completed the group put $1,000 in a reserve fund for the city. Cans for Kids also makes donation to families in need for gas cards for hospital visits. They also donate money for other city programs.

Lock said her group may need to put a slab of concrete down for the cage to rest upon but that should be all that is required. They plan on having volunteers move the cage and get it set up at the new site. Parks and Rec Director Dave Zahn asked if there would be a bee problem with the cans in that location and Lock responded that in all the years she may have seen ten bees at the current location. The council then voted to allow the move.

The Council without dissent voted to advertise for the selling of a 5-yard International dump truck number 106 used by the Public Works Department.

A long and technical discussion preceded the Council's split vote to turn down the BPM, Inc. sewer rate reduction request.

Tom Gryzwa, chair of the Water & Sewer committee, spoke about the timeline of the request which started in December of 2017. He handed out material which the committee used in making their decision to turn down the request such as Dept. of Natural Resources regulations and Wisconsin Administrative Code. The city has to comply with these regulations because of the Clean Water Fund loan they received in the past, he said.

Taryn Nall, spokesman for Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. presented a detailed analysis of how rates were comprised and also shared what could happen if BPM Inc., constructed their own water treatment facility. In his report Nall stated that a $65,000 credit annually to BPM, could result in an increase of $36.64 year for sewer customers of Class A and B. The annual user charge for a residential sewer customer using 36,500 gallons of water per year would be customer charge of $14.32, a fixed charge of $124.52 and a variable charge of $210.24 for a total of $349.08 or $87.27 per quarter. The proposed rates for 2019 for Class A and Class B customers is $14.31 annual customer charge, fixed charges (meter based) $87.88 and $210.24 water usage for a total of $312.44 year or $78.11 per quarter. Committee member Tom Gryzwa stated that the committee is not proposing or adopting new rates at this time but there could be higher rates in the future.

If BPM, Inc. would terminate discharge to the City of Peshtigo additional revenue would be needed from Class A and Class B sewer customers. The annual user charge for a residential sewer customer using 36,500 gallons of water per year would have a customer charge of $14.32, fixed charge of $215.56 and a variable charge of $332.52 for a total of $562.50 or $140.60 per quarter.

Nall went on to say that the City of Peshtigo water sewer charges are the lowest in the area. His numbers included the fixed rate and variable rates based upon a customer using 36,500 gallons of water over a year. A resident in the City of Peshtigo of Peshtigo would pay $312.44 a year or $78.11 per quarter. When compared to the City of Oconto residents there pay $333.46 per year and $83.36 per quarter. In the Village of Coleman residents pay $402.36 per year and $100.50 per quarter. Village of Crivitz residents pay $408.26 annually or $102.06 a quarter. Village of Suring residents have an annual outlay of $437.12 or $109.28 per quarter. City of Gillett residents pay $482.00 per year or quarterly $120.50. Residents in the Village of Wausaukee pay $495.65 per year or $123.91 a quarter. Village of Lena residents will pay $513.30 annually or $128.32 per quarter and the highest of the municipalities compared City of Oconto Falls residents would pay $717.54 annually or $179.38 per quarter. All comparisons are based upon a meter size of 3/8" or " and annual water use of 36,500 gallons.

Koronkiewicz stated that whatever the Council decided he would go to Jim Azzar, owner of BPM, Inc. for the final decision on what way the company will go.

After much discussion, a motion to deny the rate reduction for BPM Inc., was made by Schutte and seconded by Sievert and approved by the four to two vote. Voting for the denial were Schutte, Sievert, Schmidt and Leupp. Voting against were Behnke and Berendt.


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