Richland Center City Council December 6th Meeting

The Richland Center City Council approved the 2017 operating budget and tax levy during its regular meeting Tuesday night, December 6th.

The overall revenues anticipated total $4,633,226, expenses of $5,002,127. The overage totaling $368,901 will come from the city’s fund balance that totals just over $7.1-million at the start of 2017. The budget included an overall tax levy of $2,137,458, with a mill rate of $7.59 per $1,000 of property valuation. City of Richland Center property owners will, however, see an increase in their overall mill rate from all agencies – including the county, state, school district, city, and technical college – of an even $24. That’s up 97-cents from a year ago.

The City Council approved $11,800 to Vierbicher’s for phase #2 of the Westside Drive project in the city. Services to be included are preparation of a street right-of-way certified survey map, preparation of a Community Development Block Grant application, and preparation of a USDA Rural Development pre-application for grant and loan funds. The city council earlier approved the Westside Drive project, with an estimated cost of $1.4-million.

The council heard a report on the homeless situation in the county from Cathryn Scott representing the Richland County Homelessness Prevention Coalition and Mike Breininger of Lydia’s House Ministries. Scott indicated that the recent Point in Time counts in the county revealed 33 homeless individuals in the county in July 2014, 10 in January 2015, and 21 individuals last July. She added that those were just those who were identified during the count, and many more homeless people are known around the county. Breininger said that Lydia’s House Ministries operates three homeless support networks: Lydia’s House Shelter, A Child’s Place, and A Family’s Place. The Lydia’s House Shelter alone has housed an average of 223 guest nights per year since 2013. Breininger said the array of programs offered to deal with homelessness in a county this size is extraordinary, and they have had success transitioning many homeless families into permanent living situations.

Electric Superintendent Dale Bender updated the council his departments projects over the last year. He said that work on the new $1.8-million electric substation on Main Street is about 75% complete, with a target completion of next summer. Bender said that the Electric Utility is about two-thirds done with the conversion to LED street lighting. He said that will result in about a 54% annual savings – or $7,000 per year when complete. Other projects that the City Utilities Electric Utility has been conducting include transitioning more overhead electric cables to underground lines, developing a community solar garden, and converting all of the city’s lighted Christmas street decorations to LED.