November 18, 2014

Beaver Dam Adopts 2015 Budget With Mill Rate Spike


11/18/14 – The Beaver Dam Common Council last night adopted a 2015 budget with an 89-cent increase in the tax rate. The budget totals $15-million dollars with a levy of just under $9.6-million dollars.  The city portion of the 2014 tax bill payable next year will be $10.25 per thousand, up from $9.36. Mayor Tom Kennedy calls it a small blip in the road and says the mill rate for the past several years and the foreseeable future should be relatively flat. The eight-percent levy increase can be partially attributed to back pay following an arbitration agreement with the police union. The council approved the collective bargaining agreement, which had a six-digit impact on the budget. That includes back pay for 2011 through 2013 along with a two-year contract for 2014-2015. Yearly salary increases over the five-year contract range from 1.75-percent to 3.5-percent but personnel agreed to pay more toward insurance and retirement. Kennedy says the net increase is around 1.5-percent, which is the same amount approved in the budget for non-union city workers.


City Approves Sewer Rate Hike


11/18/14 – Beaver Dam residents will pay about $36 more for their sewer service next year. The Common Council last night approved a rate hike effective January 1. The change follows a study that determined the city had to raise rates by 39-percent across-the-board to get increased expenses and decreased revenues into the black. The vast majority of residential and small business customers will see the smallest percentage increase, around 27-percent. That includes a 90-cent boost in the base rate to $16.10 and a volume increase of around $8, bringing the average quarterly sewer bill from $32 to around $40-per month. The biggest increase will be passed along to the handful of industrial customers. Those high-use customers will see a base rate increase from $52 to $382. The average industrial user currently pays $92-thousand dollars a quarter based on the volume of sewer water that is treated; that bill will now be $125-thousand dollars, which is about 35-percent more.


Revised Cost Estimate For Watermark Discussed


11/18/14 – City officials in Beaver Dam Monday night received updated project costs for the planned Watermark. Architect Marty Sell of the firm Rketek told the Operations Committee that an independent contactors estimate resulted in the price-tag increasing by around $100-thosuand dollars to $2-million, 238-thousand dollars ($2,238,583).  The committee last month rejected a plan to begin the bidding process for the planned Community and Senior Center. In casting a “no” vote, four alderpersons noted a funding shortfall of – at the time – at least $275-thousand dollars. The committee last asked for more detailed budget estimates from the architect. While the bidding process will not go forward this fall, the committee agreed by consensus to go out to bid on the Watermark after the New Year. Sell says the numbers assembled assume construction next spring. Among the costs outlined in the estimate: $182-thousand dollars for the general contractor, $296-thousand for site work designs, $135-thousand for concrete and masonry, $319-thousand dollars for thermal and moisture control, $75-thousand for equipment and furnishings, $74-thousand for plumbing, $165-thousand for HVAC and $225-thousand for electrical.


Randolph- Cambria Schools Partnership Explored


11/18/14 – Superintendent of the Randolph School District Dr. Steve Huebbe spoke about a potential redistricting prior to last night’s board meeting.  Talks involving coordination between the Randolph and Cambria-Friesland school districts have been discussed at meetings for over three months.  Huebbe says that the quality of the services provided by both districts could be bettered through a joint effort.  He notes that the collaboration effort could intensify even within the next couple of months as they are looking at expanding the partnership in certain areas for the coming semester that begins in January.  Huebbe claims that the services that are already being shared by the two districts have reduced some costs in Randolph.  He says that students from both districts are currently going back and forth between the two for certain courses.  That is an endeavor that he would like to see expand going forward.


Randolph Track Resurfacing Discussed


11/18/14 – The Randolph Board of Education discussed the resurfacing of the district’s track at its meeting last night.  Currently, the track has a number of lateral and cross-running cracks on its surface.  Superintendent Dr. Steve Huebbe says that the cracks continue to appear despite multiple attempts to repair the running area with patch-up work.  He says that the surface quality is poor and that the track is well past its prime for usage.  The estimate that the board is currently deliberating is from a Wisconsin-based company for $158,000.  That price includes surface removal, asphalt overlay, seal flex work, and a reconstruction of the high jump area.  The project could be done for $18,000 less if the high jump task is left out of the plans.  However, it is being considered as the area for that sport is not currently regulation-sized.  Huebbe says that this entire project has been considered for at least five or six years and that patching it up further will not do any good.  After discussing the matter last night, the board decided to seek a second estimate on the project.  It is unlikely that the effort would begin until the middle of next year once the spring track season is completed.


Brownsville BP Gas Station Robbed


11/18/14 – The BP Gas Station in the Village of Brownsville was robbed yesterday morning (Mon).  The teenage suspect went up to the counter of the Main Street business shortly after 10am and asked for a carton of cigarettes.  When the clerk asked for an ID to confirm his age, the subject stated that he had a pistol in his waistband.  The clerk never saw the weapon, and the teen fled on foot with the cigarette carton.  The gas station’s surveillance video was taken as evidence by the sheriff’s office.  The suspect is believed to between the ages of 14-and-17 years old, between five-foot-two (5’2”) and five-foot-five inches (5’5”), and between 120-and-140 pounds.  He was wearing a dark sweatshirt with a star emblem on the front left, a tan ski mask, and a green camouflage backpack.  Anyone with information should contact the Dodge County Sheriff’s office. (at 920-386-3726)


Woman Flighted Following Car Accident


11/18/14 – One person was injured in a motor vehicle accident last night in the Town of Williamstown. The wreck occurred at County Road Y and Gill Road around 7:30pm. According to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department, Linda May Behling was transported by Flight for Life. The 32-year-old Jefferson County woman sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The accident remains under investigation.


Waukesha Man Get Deferred Prosecution For Photo


11/18/14 – In Dodge County court Monday, a Waukesha man entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to charges that he sent a lewd photograph to a 12-year-old girl. Brandon Schallock will avoid a felony record if he stays out of trouble while on probation for the next year. The 20-year-old was charged with Exposing a Child to Harmful Materials but pled to a reduced misdemeanor. He obtained the pre-teens phone number through an acquaintance and used the smart-phone application “Snapchat” to send the inappropriate picture of himself last December. Schallock admitted to investigators that he was aware of the girl’s age.


Obamacare Signups Less Tumultuous Than Initial Rollout


11/18/14 – The second year of Obama-care is starting off a lot more smoothly than the first in Wisconsin.  The online sign-up glitches are way down compared to last November’s fiasco.  However, some people were surprised to see their premiums rise sharply for the same coverage they had this past year.  The consulting firm of Avalere Health found that premiums for a typical 50-year-old non-smoker in Wisconsin rose one-percent for the lowest-cost plans in the bronze and silver tiers.  There was no price increase for the second-lowest-cost plan in the silver tier.  However, Avalere said the plans themselves changed in the Number-two silver category in all regions of the Badger State.  The analysts said those wishing to stay in their current plans will see cost increases and cuts in federal subsidies if they don’t change to something else.  One of the key selling points of Obama-care was that increased competition would lead to lower rates in the program.  That’s happening to some degree.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Aurora Health Care was apparently willing to give insurers better prices than competitors.  That’s based on the numbers of plans tied in the region that are tied to Aurora’s network.


Harvest Stymied By Early Winter Weather


11/18/14 – Wisconsin farmers did not appreciate the latest surge of winter.  Only 64-percent of the state’s corn for grain was harvested by Sunday.  That was when the southern part of the state finally got some snow, after much of the north received a foot-or-two last week.  Farmers managed to bring in 16-percent more of their corn, but the harvest is still 14-percent behind the average for the past five years.  Moisture levels are still high in the corn, as farmers try to let it dry naturally in the fields instead of paying large propane fuel bills to get the job done.  In the meantime, farmers focused on the soybean harvest — which is now just seven-percent away from being finished.  Still, that’s three points behind schedule.  Eighty-four of percent of Wisconsin’s winter wheat has emerged, and 60-percent of the tillage work is done — four-percent ahead of the norm.