Richland Center City Council December 18th Meeting

The Richland Center City Council heard the annual reports from department heads at its meeting on December 18th.

City Assessor, Gretchen Jelinek reported that the real estate value in the city increased by a little over $4 million, but $4 million in assessment value was lost with the closing of the J.C. Penney Store and some other tax bases. She also reported there are 317 tax exempt parcels in the city with an assessed value between $125 and $225 million. Electric Utilities director, Dale Bender, reported that the utility had qualified for Diamond level in the American Public Power Association, which means it was in the top one percent in the nation of power facilities. Bender also reported that they have started an automated meter reader service. Steve Krueger of the Water Department reported that the city pumps between 900,000 and 1.1 million gallons of water each day. To make sure that it is possible to maintain a back up supply if needed, the department negotiated a purchase of property earlier this year for a new water reservoir which will then bring the number in the city to three. Dave Fry from Parks & Rec reported that they have been removing Ash trees affected by the Emerald Ash Borer and replacing trees with other varieties around the city. They have also been working with the insurance company and contractors making repairs following last springs hail storm. In 2019 Fry stated they will be working on a new airport terminal and replacing playground equipment. Brewer Public Library Librarian, Martha Bauer, reported that they have been working on things which were brought out in the needs assessment which was held in 2016, which has led to new carpeting and shelving. The library also now has wireless printing services available. She also reported 450 children and 69 adults took part in the summer reading program. Looking ahead to 2019, the Brewer Public Library will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. Terry Nelson of the Street Department reported besides street and curb improvements they have been working on repairing the concrete topper on the dike.

The council held a discussion on a de-annexation request from Carey Norman for property located on Executive Lane. Of the three buildings in the complex, the third building, furthest back from Highway 14, is the only complex building in the city limits. This is the second request Norman has made to have the property de-annexed. The first was in 2013 which was declined by the council by a 4-3 vote. According to information shared at last night's meeting, there was originally a plan by Bruce Bulimore, the city's economic development planner at the time, for the development of homes in the valley north of Highway 14 and Norman was convinced to build his executive office building project. When his project was completed no development had yet begun and no city utilities were available for the project. Norman was granted permission to install a holding tank and well. Carey Norman feels as he is currently not receiving any city services for the property, he would like to de-annex the section of the complex which is in the city limits. According to the City tax role, they city's share of property taxes lost would be around $2,785. After much discussion, it was felt that more background information needs to be obtained into what was actually agreed upon at the time the decision of annexation was made and whether the city actually entered into an agreement to supply utilities to the property.

Matt Mucha of Vierbicher Engineering presented an agreement for engineering consulting services to move forward with a project on Haseltine Street from Sheldon Street to East Street in 2019. Construction costs total $1,063,790. John Collins voiced concern for the need of the city to enter into a contract with one engineer for the project rather than multi contracted engineers as the Haseltine project had this past summer. The council voted 6-1 to move ahead with the plan. John Collins was the lone no vote.

The Richland Center City Council approved joining with other communities around the state and nation in adopting a resolution opposing large corporation donations to public office candidates. The resolution passed 6-0 with Justin Lockwood abstaining.

In other action at last night’s (Tuesday) meeting the Richland Center City Council approved: paying paying bills, using designated cash on hand for the purchase of playground equipment for the parks department, taxi license applications from Towne Taxi and Running Inc., and a temporary class B beer retailers license for the A.D. German Warehouse Conservancy for a live music event January 19th. The council also approved a number of recommendations by the park board and property committee concerning facility use and fees for 2019.