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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Patricia Schutte Resigns Pound Village Clerk/Treasurer Position

Issue Date: June 6, 2019

Members of Pound Village Board found a surprise waiting for them when they arrived for their regular monthly board meeting on Monday, June 3. Long-time Clerk/Treasurer Patricia "Trish" Schutte was not there. Instead, waiting for them on the table in the meeting room, was a letter of resignation from her, effective immediately.

In the letter, dated June 3, Schutte wrote:

"To the Village of Pound Taxpayers: It has been my pleasure and an honor to have served as your Village Clerk-Treasurer for the past 19.5 years."

"To the Village Board: I can no longer work for people that do not trust me, do not communicate with me and spread false accusations about me.

"Therefore, on June 3, 2019, effective immediately, I resign my position as Village Clerk-Treasurer and terminate my employment with the Village of Pound," and concluded, "I submit this resignation with the same consideration that I have been given by this Village Board."

Month-end financial reports and minutes of the last meeting were also on the table as usual.

All board members were present, including Village President Terry Earley and trustees Mary Meyer, John Homontowski, David Navis and recently appointed Mike Rogodzinski. The only others on hand were a member of the press and Schutte's husband, Public Works Director Kevin Schutte.

Late in the meeting the board discussed the letter during time for public comment, since it had not been received in time to place it on the evening's agenda. They agreed that Earley should see if he can get someone to handle the clerk's duties on a temporary basis, and should place an ad seeking persons interested in filling the job permanently. Earley said he may call a special emergency board meeting if he gets a suitable applicant.

Due to lack of a quorum, there had been no meeting of the Village Utility Board for two months, and a proposal to combine the Village Board and the Utility Board was a major item on the meeting's agenda. After some discussion the board voted unanimously to do that, largely due to difficulties with getting people to serve on the Utility Board.

Former Trustee Jerry Rogge had remained a member after his trustee position ended in April, but then resigned due to illness. The other two Utility Board members are - or were - Trustee Homontowski and former Village President Jay Martens. The Utility Board had not held an official meeting for two months due to lack of a quorum. Only Homontowski, Clerk/Treasurer Schutte and Kevin Schutte were present for the May 13 meeting. Rogge had resigned and Martens father had died.

Financial report shows the utility on May 31 had a balance of $47,301.16 in all accounts, including receivables, and total debt of $475,184.27, which is owed on a loan from Stephenson National Bank and Trust. The report included a notation from Patricia Schutte that it would be revised due to timing of bank statements.

When discussion began on combining the two boards Navis asked if they could do that and still keep separate accounts for the utility and the village. At previous meetings it had been noted that the village is dangerously close to its state-established debt limit, and Navis commented with the amount of money the utility has borrowed they would be far over that limit.

Everyone agreed the utility's finances would need to be kept separate for a number of reasons in any case.

Earley said he had no problem with combining the two boards, and it would resolve the quorum issue. He noted the Village board has to approve the utility reports in any case.

Homontowski then moved to dissolve the Utility Board and combine utility business with the village board meeting and Meyer seconded. Everyone voted in favor.

Earley expressed hope that Martens would come to Village Board meetings for input, at least for a while.

As to financial reports, Earley commented that is something they will need to take up with the new clerk.

In his utility report, Kevin Schutte said in May a relay went out at the lift station, due to a burned out relay switch. This caused all the village wastewater to back up and they had to hire Jim's Pumping to truck it to the wastewater treatment plant in Coleman at a cost of $4,000 or $5,000. There also were bills from Superior Septic, one for $2,000 and one for $1,400. Meyer asked if any of that cost would be covered by insurance, and Schutte said no, because it was simply that the switch burned out, and the problems were not caused by a lightning strike or other natural disaster.

There had been a leak at 109 Colburn Street due to a broken meter when no one was home. Schutte said that break had been sending a couple gallons a day into the village sewer system, and the property owners had been billed for it.

He said the wastewater/sewage the utility had shipped to the Coleman treatment plant in April and May far exceeded the contract amount and eventually they will be billed for the excess. He said there is much fresh water infiltration into the sewer system, and he believes most of it comes - about 80 percent - from leaky basements with floor drains or sump pumps that run into the sanitary system instead of into yards or the storm sewer system, rather than other sources of groundwater infiltration.

"This is the worst year we've had in 10 years," Schutte declared. He said due to rate increases, their regular bill from Coleman is $1,000 per month higher than it was last year at this time, and at the end of the year they will be billed for overages, which includes penalties. Discussion indicated $4,120 is paid to Coleman Water and Sewer Utility for the monthly contract and then Pound is billed for excesses at the end of the year. Schutte said last year they were billed cost and penalties totaling $7,166 over the contract amount, and he expects the 2019 overages will cost even more.

Another major agenda item was employee handbook review, an issue which has been under discussion for several months. The village has never had an employee handbook and creating one has been a work in progress. Patricia Schutte had reviewed duties of the clerk/treasurer office at the board's May meeting and made some suggestions for changes, which Navis had incorporated in the updated version for this meeting.

There was a suggestion from Meyer to postpone action the handbook in view of everything that was happening, but Navis declared there obviously going to be a change in the clerk/treasurer, "and we should have the new rules in place before we hire someone."

He asked Kevin Schutte if he saw any changes needed in his job as explained in the handbook, but he had not seen the revised version, so Earley gave him a draft of what the board was thinking of adopting and asked him to make changes in his job duties so they could act at the next meeting.

Navis said since the clerk/treasurer duties had been updated they could adopt that half of the handbook at this time "in view of the letter," and wait on the public works employee portion until July. He then moved to approve pages one through 11, Rogodzinski seconded and all voted in favor.

Navis had questioned having minuted corrections show up as crossed out in the records, and he said after speaking with the Marinette County Clerk and the Pound Village Attorney he had learned the correction of Jan. 7 minutes would have been correct as done had the minutes been approved before the corrections were made, but since that had not happened the crossed out portions should not have been put into the permanent record. The difference is the county has an elected clerk and Schutte was an employee.

"We don't have a clerk, so there isn't a lot we can do about that at this time," Earley commented.

Later in the meeting Navis noted Schutte had not worked for two weeks of her final month as clerk/treasurer. Earley said she was on salary, and the check for her monthly had already been written. He said in any case he never had any accounts of the hours she worked. Kevin Schutte commented she also never got paid for overtime. There seemed to be general agreement that the new person hired will not be a salaried employee.

When reviewing financial statements and bills to be paid, Navis commented since it was so early in the month they had no bank statement and he would like to see one.

Meyer agreed. She noted they borrowed $90,000 two months ago because they were running short of money and after that $15,000 was taken from the local draw, so "I would like to know how much we have at this time."

On a three to two vote the board approved all three liquor licenses applied for, from the R-Store, Cottage Bar and Grill and Papa Bears. Voting in favor were Earley, Rogodzinski and Meyer. Homontowski and Navis were opposed.

Are we going to put people out of business if we turn them down?" Rogodzinski asked before the vote. Navis said they could, but legally they could not refuse the licenses without good cause unless they hd an ordinance against it, which they do not.

"Hopefully we'll never go there," Earley declared.

"In my opinion, alcohol is fine to sell, as long as the people selling it are responsible for the damage it causes," Navis responded

In the absence of Fire Chief Turner Gross, Rogodzinski gave the Fire Department report and handed out the monthly financial reports. He said the department had four fire calls in the past month. One was for a lift assist, two for motor vehicle accidents on Hwy. 141 in the Town of Beaver, and one for a fire at a wood processing facility on 22nd Road. Crivitz Fire Department assisted with with one of the accidents on Hwy. 141, and all went well with the calls, Rogodzinski said.

The Fire Department financial report showed a beginning checking account balance of $12,902.36, sweepstake ticket sale deposits of $4,791, DNR grant of $816.80, and a Lions Club Donation of $500, and payouts of $400 to NEW Motor Sports and $32.97 to reimburse Rogodzinski for purchasing wristbands for the upcoming picnic. The report includes a note that $1,169.52 of the money in checking is from the Pound/Brazeau dry hydrant fund raiser. The Fire Department savings account shows a total of $18,673.33, with no deposits or withdrawals during May.

Kevin Schutte reported he is trying to get started with work on Walker Street, but rain has been a problem. He said he had finished the equipment inventory requested by the auditors, and "listed basically everything except the tables and chairs at the Community Center." He worked Saturday and Sunday and has re-opened the village park. He said he has been mowing grass at night when possible and has been working on the cemetery wall.

Schutte said he has been getting 10 to 15 calls a week from people upset because the village will not be having its car show this year. Earley asked why it is not being held and Schutte said he and Trish (Patricia) had been doing everything, ""nobody wants to work."

Rogodzinski said he had complaints from people upset because the Fireman's Picnic on June 15 and 16 is being held at Equity Park instead of in the village. He was told this is hopefully for just one year, and it was decided to not use the village park because the many areas have too recently been filled and re-seeded and would be nothing but mud and ruts if cars park there this year.

At the last meeting Rogodzinski had questioned a decision to eliminate the annual Spring Cleanup Day, and volunteered to work with no pay for a cleanup day later in the season.

That offer was on the agenda for the June meeting, and Rogodzinski said he would be glad to sit out there from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Saturday after Labor Day. He asked Schutte to explain what he has to do, and what he charged. Schutte is to make arrangements for dumpsters and help set up rules and fees for the special trash disposal day, and Rogodzinski will sit out there, collect fees, supervise, and take names to be sure the service is not abused by those from other communities.

The agenda also called for discussion of options for promoting the village's industrial/commercial park to help pay off the costs incurred in developing it as a TIF District. Meyer declared the village cannot afford to make all the payments when they become due unless there are taxpaying properties in the district. She will seek suggestions from Marinette County Administrator John LeFebve, Bay Lakes Regional Planning Commission in Green Bay and inVenture North, which is the successor organization to Marinette County Association for Business and Industry (MCABI).

A person who had expressed interest in establishing a salvage yard there seems to no longer be interested.

Early in the meeting there was brief discussion on the pending audits and the asset lists the auditors needed to complete them. The audit for 2016 is being done by Johnson and Rennie, and the other is a special audit being done by Sikich, LLC for 2013 and 2014. There has not been a completed audit in many years.

Kevin Schutte asked how the numbers had come out.

"We weren't questioning the numbers, we were trying to get the numbers," Meyer told him.

Navis explained Rennie had told him he needed the itemized asset list before he could finish his 2016 audit. Schutte had reported that his itemization is now complete. It will be forwarded to Rennie. No one seemed sure how the vacancy in the clerk/treasurer position will affect completion of the pending audits.


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