News – November 30, 2016

Horicon’s 2017 Budget Passes Following Heated Exchanges


11/30/16 – Horicon’s 2017 budget was adopted last night but not without raised tensions and controversy.  Last week, Alderman Don Miller cast the lone vote against the document, which was enough to cause it to fail since the full council was not present.  On the first vote last night, the budget failed 4-2, with Alderman Richard Marschke joining Miller in voting no.  Miller cited displeasure with funding the city’s economic developer since he was unhappy with current development director Jim Schafer’s performance while Marschke noted concerns with the lack of performance reviews for the city’s department heads.


Alderman Carl Fausett stated that the budget process is not the appropriate time to discuss concerns with an employee’s performance and argued cutting departmental funding would be a mistake.  Fausett said discontinuing the economic development department would tell developers the city is not serious in its desire to grow and would cause Horicon to be stagnant while neighboring communities expand.  Miller claimed he received positive feedback from constituents for his vote last week and said he is tired of having his questions go unanswered.  Miller said he has asked for a review of Schaefer’s performance on three separate occasions and has yet to get a response.  He also said none of his questions have been answered as to what benefit Schaefer has provided the city since he was hired.  Mayor Steve Neitzel noted that Schaefer provides that monthly report while no other department heads do the same.


That drew a response from Public Works Director Dave Magnussen who said he refused to be crucified by Neitzel yet again and claimed he and other department heads are not appreciated for the work they do for the city.  Following that, Magnussen walked out of the meeting.  Alderman Nathan Anfinson said he is working to implement a process of reviewing city employees and hopes to have all department head reviews completed by the end of January.  With that assurance, the council again voted on the budget, which passed unanimously.  The mill rate and property values are both up from last year.  At $9.78 per thousand dollars of assessed value, the mill rate is up $0.75, and city property values increased by 1.4-percent.  The $3,600,000 budget includes a tax levy just under $2,200,000, up $181,000 or 9-percent from last year.


Beaver Dam Fire Working On Contract With Townships


11/30/16 – Officials with the Town of Beaver Dam are haggling with the city of Beaver Dam about contributing to water rescue efforts on the lake. The city provides fire and rescue services to five neighboring townships and the entities are in the process of hammering out a new three-year contract. At a meeting of the Beaver Dam Community Fire and Rescue Association last night, the city heard feedback from the townships about the terms of the contract and the major sticking point was water rescue services. Fire Chief Alan Mannel says current water rescue equipment has deteriorated to the point that it breaks down every time it is used and he no longer feels it is safe. The city has included $170-thousand dollars for replacement equipment in its preliminary borrowing plan for next year which is 75-percent of the cost. Mannel says it is only fair that the townships pay the remaining costs in the contract. “I think they should just bite the bullet and provide the services they know needs to be done,” he says.


The contracted cost charged to each township is based on the number of calls for service the city has responded to over the past 15 years. So the city pays just over 80-percent of the costs for equipment while the towns of Calamus, Lowell, Westford and Trenton all pay around two-percent. Jeff Schmitt is a supervisor with the Town of Beaver Dam which pays just under 12-percent.  Schmitt says state statute indicates that the county sheriff is tasked with water rescue and the sheriff has indicated the city is the primary responder. Chief Mannel says the townships know that the county cannot provide the same level of service as the city. Schmidt also refutes the notion that just because the township is located on the lake that it is responsible for public use of the lake. He says someone from Nova Scotia could be rescued in the shores off the township. Moreover, Schmitt says realistically a dive scenario is more of a body recovery than a rescue which is clearly a function of a sheriff’s department and “there is no need for a township to participate in the recovery of a body.” Mannel says the department will continue to offer a high level of service regardless of contracts but a way of billing the townships may have to be worked out in the event there is a water rescue in their jurisdiction. Township representatives are now discussing the proposed contracts with their respective town boards and will meet with city officials again at the end of December. The Fire Association would then meet in January to vote on the three-year contract.


Juneau Adopts 2017 City Budget With One No Vote


11/30/16 – The Juneau Common Council adopted the city’s 2017 budget last night on a five-to-one vote.  The $10-million-dollar budget includes a tax levy of $1.36-million dollars, which is up $45-thousand dollars from 2016.  The $9.49 mill rate is up 12-cents from the current year; equalized property values increased by around one-percent. Alderwoman Kendra Hayden voted against the budget. She cited continued cuts to the library as her reason for voting against the budget. The library will be getting a reduced annual reimbursement from the county because that number is based in part on the amount the city provides and Hayden says reducing the levy amount results in a reduction in county aid in future years. Alderwoman and Finance Committee Chair Cheryl Braun says she would not like to see any department receive funding cuts but there was only so much money available for all departments. Mayor Dan Wegener says the finance committee brought the best possible budget forward for approval. The budget itself incudes borrowing $1.5-million dollars for purchases including a new police squad car, a tanker for the fire department, a plow/tractor for the Department Public Works, lights for the athletic field and $665-thousand dollars for streets rehabilitation.


Deer Harvest Totals Down In Most Local Counties


11/30/16 – Hunters in many local counties and statewide shot fewer deer during this year’s nine-day gun-deer season than last.  According to the state Department of Natural Resources, Dodge County hunters killed 2,911 deer during the season that ended Sunday, which is over 200 fewer than the 3,128 taken in 2015.  Columbia County’s total of 3,652 deer killed is nearly 300 less than the 3,937 shot a year ago.  In Fond du Lac County, the 2,446 animals killed this year were down from 2,723 in 2015.  Green Lake County saw a year-to-year drop from 2,672 in 2015 to 2,579 this year.  Washington County hunters killed 1,402 deer this November, down from 1,516 last year.  Jefferson County had six more deer killed during this year’s hunting season, with the total rising to 1,643.  Statewide, hunters claimed 196,785 deer, which is down nearly 1,300 animals from a year ago.  A total of 598,867 gun-deer licenses were sold this year, down over 13,500 from 2015.  No hunting-related fatalities were reported during the nine-day stretch.  Five non-fatal incidents occurred: two in Taylor County and one apiece in Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Oconto counties.  The DNR says it received mostly positive feedback about the new online and call-in deer registration methods.


Fire Causes Damage In Waupun


11/30/16 – Fire caused between $25,000 and $35,000 worth of damage at a Waupun apartment building yesterday.  The Waupun Fire Department responded to a fire at the Wish-U-Well Inn at N2919 South Frontage Road in the Town of Waupun at 12:28 pm.  Upon arrival, a fire was burning in one unit’s living room.  Crews extinguished the blaze within a half hour.  The tenant, Dale Slade, was not home at the time, and no injuries were reported.  The apartment was deemed uninhabitable due to smoke and water damage, and there was also smoke damage to a few other units.


Fox Lake Man Accused Of Attacking Wife, Another Man


11/30/16 – Bond was set at $10,000 yesterday for a Fox Lake man accused of attacking multiple people with a baseball bat.  Michael Rogge is facing two felony Battery counts along with one misdemeanor.  The 33-year-old reportedly told officers he left work on Monday during his break to run home and get his cigarettes.  When he arrived at his house, Rogge said there was a vehicle in the driveway that belongs to a man he expected was having an affair with his wife.  Rogge allegedly said that he grabbed the bat when he got in the house and proceeded to the bedroom, where he found the man.  Rogge reportedly hit the man in the head with the bat and said he also unintentionally struck his wife, who was trying to break up the fight.  The man received 12 staples to his head while Rogge’s wife received two near her scalp.  Rogge says he never meant to hurt the man but rather wanted to scare him.  If he is convicted on all counts, Rogge faces up to seven years in prison.  His preliminary hearing is December 15.


Waupun Man Accused Of Burglarizing Home


11/30/16 – A Waupun man is accused of breaking into a house within city limits to steal money and jewelry.  Joshua Gierach reportedly told officers he did take and pawn jewelry from the State Street home but denied stealing the $800 cash.  The 23-year-old allegedly said he was under the influence at the time of the July burglary.  If he is convicted, Gierach could face over 12 years in prison.  His initial appearance is December 22.