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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Grover Voters Okay Levy Hike For New Fire Truck

The 21 voters present for the Town of Grover annual budget meeting and a special town meeting that followed voted without dissent in favor of increasing town property taxes $100,000 each year over the increase allowed by state law. The action results in a town tax levy increase that is 31.185 percent above the increase that would otherwise be allowed under state levy limits.

This year and next year the extra $100,000 will be used to provide Grover's share toward purchase of a new tanker truck for the Grover/Porterfield Volunteer Fire Department. The extra $100,000 was supported in a resolution endorsed by the Grover Town Board in October, and matches the contribution approved by the Town of Porterfield at its budget meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Grover Clerk/Treasurer Lisa Witak said in future years Grover's added $100,000 may be used to replace other old fire department vehicles or provide much needed maintenance and improvement of town roads. "Without raising the taxes I don't know how we would take care of our roads," Witak commented. "We don't foresee the cost of things going down. You can cut only so long, and then you run out of things to cut."

The evening began with the regular monthly Town Board meeting at 6 p.m., which was recessed at 7 p.m. for the budget hearing and special town budget meeting and resumed after they were done.

At the budget hearing Town Chair Wayne Staidl explained the fire department needs to replace fire trucks and to help them do that, the town board is asking residents to approve a tax levy increase higher than the allowable levy limit imposed by state law.

Tim Kamm, reporting on behalf of the Fire Commission, said calls for the department were down approximately 20 percent from 2015. He also said, as he had at the annual meeting in April, that several trucks need replacing, and at this time the Fire Commission is looking to replace two trucks with one pumper/tanker. A tank was replaced on another truck this year.

Need for new trucks for the fire department had also been discussed at the town's annual meeting in April. At that time Kamm had said they would need to repair or replace three of the tankers and two engines, but if a pumper/tanker were purchased it could replace two of the existing trucks.

Town of Porterfield voters at their budget meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9 had also agreed to provide $100,000 for the new truck for their jointly owned fire department, with the motion contingent on Grover also "meeting their obligation of $100,000." A resolution authorizing the board to exceed state levy limits by $50,000, which was enough for them to provide the town's $100,000 share. The $50,000 is a 10.35 percent increase over last year's tax levy. It was approved for 2017 with 36 electors voting aye, four voting nay and two abstaining. The total tax levy of $533,132 was then approved with 32 votes in favor and 10 against. Both actions were contingent on Grover also approving their $100,000. Had Grover failed to levy the extra $100,000 the Porterfield levy would have been $433,132.

At the Grover meeting Clerk/Treasurer Witak went over the proposed 2017 budget, which projected income of $776,335 for 2017, down from $799,862 projected for 2016, even after adding the $100,000. However, this is because in 2016 the town received a $128,500 TRIP grant for road improvements that it will not have this year.

Expenses in all categories except roads were budgeted for 2017 at amounts very close to the 2016 budget. General government was allocated a $1,000 total increase. This covers town board expenses, town hall expenses, telephone, utilities, board of review, judge, insurance, elections, etc. Cost of elections was budgeted at $2,000 less than this year, but the telephone allocation was increased. Allocation for fire protection other than the truck was raised from $62,850 to $65,350.

The public works budget, which includes road maintenance, was reduced from $620,000 to $502,472.25, mainly because of the $128,500 allocation for the TRIP project is not included. Allocation for bridge repair was increased from $20,000 to $40,000.

There were no citizen comments and the budget hearing closed at 7:23 p.m. followed promptly by the Town Elector Meeting.

First action was approval of the resolution from electors to exceed the levy limits. Motion was made by Arliss Witak, seconded by Rick Prusak and carried without dissent.

Motion then was made by Arliss Witak, seconded by Rick Prusak and approved without dissent to adopt the town tax levy of $420,669.

Motion to approve total highway expenditures for 2017 was made by Tim Kamm, seconded by Dan Klimek and approved.

Motion to approve elected officer salaries with 4 percent raises for terms starting in April of 2017 was made by Prusak, seconded by Carlon Strutz and carried. With this change, the clerk/treasurer's annual salary will increase from $23,000 to $23,930, chair salary will increase from $6,800 to $7,072, supervisors from $3,500 to $3,640, and constable from $1,200 to $1,248.

The regular town board meeting resumed at 7:35 p.m. It had started at 6 p.m. and was recessed at 7 for the budget proceedings.

Present for the town board meeting were Staidl, Clerk/Treasurer Witak, Supervisor Kim Kittredge, Gordon Klimek, Eugene Frank, Corey Kuchta, Arliss Witak, Sally Witak, and Rick Satterlee of Ayres Associates.

Satterlee introduced himself to the board. Ayres Associates will be completing a proposal for the design of the town bridge project.

Klimek said the fire pond on Behnke School Road needs a load of limestone/gravel.

Witak told the board there was a letter from Coleman Library asking for donation, a letter from Coggins &Wolfe informing them that legal fees increase on Jan. 1, 2017, list of county tax foreclosures, and the Wisconsin Department of Administration population estimate of 1,806 for 2016.

Witak reported there were 925 votes cast in Grover for the Tuesday, Nov. 8 election.

Proposals for the bridge project are due by Monday, Nov. 28.

Witak is looking into fixing the spotlights in the town hall.

Supervisor Kittredge asked if some potholes on Town Hall Rd. were fixed, and town employee LeRoy Spitzmacher said they have been filled with blacktop.

Staidl reported the bill had been received from Biehl Construction

Kittredge reported issuing two building permits.

During the past month the road crew filled in a drop off by the Black Bridge with gravel. Several roads need more gravel on the shoulders. They picked up garbage from the ditch on County W and Townline Road, and a stop sign on Bridge Road was raised and straightened.

The board approved the garbage/recycling contract with GAD for 2017-2018.

The town will pursue talking with the state regarding changes needed to Kasal Lane, upgrade of the town website for $529 was approved, Delmore Consulting was hired to do an initial comprehensive road management diagram. Motion to pay bills was approved, and the meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.


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