Grover Hears Request for Fire Department Levy Hike
Grover/Porterfield Fire Chief Wade Larsen presented the Grover Town Board with a letter on Monday night, Sept. 12, asking the Board to consider a levy hike for the next two years to help fund a new pumper/tanker combo for the department. An identical letter has been presented to the Town of Porterfield Board.
The letter read, "The Grover/Porterfield Fire Dept is requesting under WI Statue 66.0602 that the Town of Porterfield in joint efforts with the Town of Grover ask their electors for a levy increase above the normal allowed by statutes.
"This increase would be in the amount of $100,000 per town for a total of $200,000.00 for the year 2017 and also for 2018. The purpose of this request is to upgrade the fire department vehicle fleet. At current funding and with the cost of replacement vehicles along with the current age of the vehicle fleet, measures have to be taken to continue with current service levels.
"The current average age of the majority of the fleet is at 20 years old or older. At this age, maintenance issues start to arise that become costly. Also with current costs on a steady increase, the replacement of these vehicles incurs even more cost as time goes by.
"With the listed increase, department vehicles can be upgraded to newer, more user-friendly vehicles and also allow for added department capabilities under the state MABAS regulations.
This request is part of an ongoing proactive approach to protect the residents of the Town of Porterfield and the Town of Grover, along with all their visitors. Like it has since inception, the Grover/Porterfield is and will continue to provide an up-to-date and highly trained, and dedicated fire department."
Larsen further explained that the department needs to replace Engine 450 and another tanker truck. The proposed combination pumper/tanker that they are considering would be a multi-use vehicle, hauling water when needed or being used as a back-up pumper. A vehicle of this sort, according to Larsen, would fit perfectly with the MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) requirements.
Larsen added any new vehicle usually has a 16 to 18 month turn-around time from order to deliver. If both the towns of Grover and Porterfield pass the levy increase, the money would be in hand to pay for the equipment when it is ready.
Clerk/Treasurer Lisa Witak was aware this request was coming to the board and had done some study on the tax implications of a possible levy hike. She reported that a $100,000 rise of the levy in Grover would cause taxes to go up about 65 cents per $1,000 home valuation. On a $100,000 home that would equate to about $65 yearly tax increase. She did not mention what the increase would be for farm/field land, etc.
The other Board members discussed placing this matter on their next board meeting agenda as they discuss the 2017 budget.
For more information on the proposed equipment purchase, or to learn more about the joint fire department, residents of the two towns were encouraged to attend the Oct. 1 Open House at the Harmony Fire Station at 10:30 AM. Or, residents could stop in at the Grover Fire Station on any Tuesday evening to talk about the department and see the equipment.
Larsen also noted that the department is continually looking at additional water sources in every area of the towns. He said it all helps to try to lower the ISO rating number because a lower rating equates to lower fire insurance costs.
In another related department matter, Larsen spoke about reports he heard of a company that is contacting farmers in the area offering to tear down old buildings. He requested that anybody who receives a call like this to contact the department or the local DNR office because tearing down and disposing of a farm building requires a permit.
In regards to marked snowmobile trails on town roads, Larsen stated all roads and lanes used as trails need to be plowed since the fire department would use them to access any building fires. He cautioned there are liability issues for the town if this is not done. Anyone with questions about this was encouraged to contact Larsen.
In a follow-up to an issue presented at last month's meeting, Gail Mandli reported on research she had done on a possible sex offender ordinance in the town. She explained the state Department of Corrections rules on sex offender placement, as well as sources on the internet which list where current registered sex offenders reside.
Mandli explained how ordinances can set up "Child Safety Zones" which would prevent registered offenders from living certain distances from places like schools, licensed daycare/after school program sites, libraries, parks, athletic fields, church public swimming areas, and places that host children's programs. The ordinance could also cover elderly/nursing homes and group/disabled residences.
Mandli passed out sample ordinances to the town board, as well as contact information for experts in the field on the state level. She also mentioned some recent changes to state statute in Act 156, and suggested that similar ordinances in local municipalities also be used as reference.
To discuss a possible sex offender ordinance matter further, the Board called for a meeting of the Plan Commission. It was noted that discussion of an ordinance on this subject was not sparked by any incident in the town, but rather was raised by an article in a recent Town's Association magazine.
In other matters, the treasurer's report showed nothing out of the ordinary for the month. Later in the meeting, the Board approved paying the monthly vouchers totaling $20,020.23. Clerk Witak announced that the November general election is approaching fast and requests for early voting can be submitted now by contacting her. Presently, an approved ID is needed to vote.
Supervisor Wayne Hoffman reported he received a request from St. John's Lutheran Church to possible paint parking lot lines since that area of Church Road was recently repaved. There were several questions on liability on the issue since their parking area is within the road right-of-way. After discussion, the question will be forwarded to both the town attorney and the Wisconsin Towns Association.
Hoffman also reported that graveling of sections of Schonfeld and DesJarlais Lanes as well as culvert projects on Bundy and East County Line Road have been completed. He is looking into why these projects were billed for more than was budgeted.
Hoffman also reported he is investigating a practice of some local towns that eliminates the pulverization of existing pavement before applying pulverized limestone and overlaying with new blacktop. This process may provide some savings on future road projects.
Town Chairman Wayne Staidl said he had received a couple of complaints about possible overweight loads on Prestine and Techmeier Roads. He contacted the Sheriff's Department to look into the matter.
Garbage/Recycling Coordinator Witak reported the contract with Great American Disposal was signed, but cautioned that the price is definitely going up for next year.
Zoning Administrator Kim Kittredge reported she approved one new home permit, one driveway permit, four building permits, and one new address sign request.
Road Crew Leader Leroy Spitzmacher stated road potholes are being filled as they are discovered. A report of tree branches impeding line-of-sight at the intersection of Red School and Hartwig Road will need to be dealt with by the Board. Later in the meeting, Spitzmacher noted he had cleared out the debris in a particularly troublesome area of Red School Road, which should help with drainage into the swamp. He felt that culvert replacement at this site would not help with the drainage of the area. The site will be monitored during the spring run-off.
Although it was on the agenda, at least two board members inspected the new roadway on Church Road and could not find a reported area of vehicle damage. With the heat of the last couple of weeks, the pavement may have healed itself .
The Board discussed the four new culverts that need to be installed yet this year. Only one proposal was received, which was in keeping with the dollar amounts of similar projects in the past. The bid from Road King Excavating was approved.
Discussion took place about an extremely low shoulder that was developing on a curve on Kamm Road. The board approved contacting Vern Cramer to have him build up the low spot which has developed by people continually cutting the corner and wearing away the gravel.
As in the past, the Board approved again contracting with Marinette County to provide property, etc., tax collection for the town. The county does this in conjunction with county tax collections so that residents can pay all these taxes at one time. The county then sends the town's portion to them. The cost to the town is an 85 cent per parcel administrative fee.
The board approved keeping Tennissen Appraisal as the town's Assessor for 2017. The contract was for $8,200.
Recent stories, opinions and photos