Supervisor Lee Schroeder announced his resignation during a special Dayton Town Board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 28.
He walked out of the meeting after nearly an hour of confronting Town Chairman Chris Klein over a number of issues.
Schroeder and Klein wrangled over plans for more tree cutting along town roads, the town’s no parking signs, the town’s fines for ordinance violations and the town chairman’s authority to enforce its ordinances.
At the top of the agenda was discussion of the town’s road maintenance budget for the next two months.
Dayton plans to spend a total of $4,000 to have town employees clear trees and brush in town road right-of-ways in February and March. The town plans to spend another $10,000 during that period to have the Waupaca County Highway Department run a brush hog along some town roads.
Schroeder asked if town officials could meet with the town employees to provide guidelines on which trees to cut.
“I don’t think we should tell him just go out to Evergreen Drive and trim and prune and do whatever,” Schroeder said. “He’s a town employee, not a town official.”
“We can’t have a town board meeting for every road maintenance project,” Klein replied, noting a town board meeting costs the taxpayers $120. “At some point we need to designate certain authorities to the individuals.”
Klein said the town board is responsible for setting guidelines and policies and asked Schroeder if he wanted to recommend policies the board could adopt.
“I think we, as a town board, should be directing him what we want to have cut,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder made a motion that town officials go out with Jeff Henneman, the town employee responsible for cutting trees in Dayton, and tell which areas need to be trimmed.
Klein noted that he had gone out with Henneman in the past and directed him.
Schroeder asked why it made a difference if he also met with Henneman.
Klein responded that it became a town board meeting when two or more town officials were present.
Supervisor Glen Newsome said if Schroeder was responsible for directing the tree cutting, “They might as well stay home because your opinion is don’t cut trees.”
“There’s a fine line between public safety and the aesthetic value in the people’s property,” Newsome said. “I believe that there’s trimming that needs to be done. If you want to do it by committee, then I’ll be conveniently on vacation.”
The motion failed with Klein and Newsome voting against it.
Then, Klein proposed making a motion to authorize road right-of-way work. He asked Schroeder which roads he wanted the town to prioritize for the work.
“I’ll let you decide that,” Schroeder said.
The motion authorizing the road work passed with Klein and Newsome voting for it.
Schroeder also questioned the town’s parking fine schedule for 2014 and the town chairman’s authority to enforce parking violations.
He asked if parking could be enforced by the county rather than by the town.
Schroeder noted that an ordinance proposed at a July 2013 board meeting indicated the fine for improper parking ranged from a minimum of $30 to a maximum of $60 if not paid within 10 days. Upon a second conviction, the fine ranged from $60 to $120.
The fine schedule was included in a proposed ordinance which prohibited parking along 20 sections of town roads, many of them near boat landings on the Chain O’ Lakes. The town board tabled the proposed ordinance.
However, at the December 2013 meeting, when the board approved its fines and fees schedule for 2014, the fine for the same parking offense ranged between $20 and $200.
“The way it’s written now, you can write a ticket for $20 or $200 at your discretion,” Schroeder said, noting his concern that the maximum fines had doubled and a town official may have a vendetta against the person he cites.
Klein said the town has issued no parking citations involving fines, following either schedule.
“The method of increasing fines is specified in state statutes,” Klein said.
“But not the way you have it written here,” Schroeder replied.
“Let’s, for the sake of argument, say the fee schedule was adopted wrong and not according to state statutes,” Klein said. “So then what we should do is take an action to correct it to follow state statutes.”
Klein said he could rewrite the fee structure in the ordinance to comply with state law and the board could vote on it in February.
“But if its a town ordinance, the town board chairperson is responsible for making sure that town ordinances are enforced,” Klein said.
According to town records, the fines and penalties adopted in December 2013 were identical to those adopted in 2014.
Schroeder made a motion to have the county enforce the parking ordinance and that the town chairman no longer have that authority.
“I don’t know if what you’re asking is a proper, legal question,” Klein said. “I suggest you get advice from the Wisconsin Towns Association.”
Schroeder then tabled his motion until he speaks with a WTA attorney.
No parking signs
Schroeder asked the town board to review all the no parking signs which were installed last summer.
“We’ve had three different road tours. I don’t think the town’s taxpayers should pay for another special meeting. If you have something, please send it to me in writing,” Klein said. “Let me know which roads you object to.”
Klein said many of the new no parking signs replaced old signs. The new signs conformed to state statutes “so parking tickets could be written,” he said.
“And signs were added where you thought they should be?” Schroeder asked.
“There were a few signs added in a few places – less than the Chain O’ Lakes property owners requested,” Klein replied.
“Playing devil’s advocate for this whole thing, I believe that Lee and Chris should go to the next Chain Property Owners Association meeting,” Newsome said. “Lee should get up and make a presentation to them with the words, ‘We’re going to take down all the no parking signs to advocate more tourism on the Chain O’ Lakes.’ I guarantee you the next town board meeting that we have here you won’t be able to find any extra chairs.”
“I will give you a little late Christmas present. I hereby resign,” Schroeder said, rising from his seat.
You can’t do that,” Klein said. “You need to do that in writing.”
“You don’t care what I have to say,” Schroeder said.
The town board then went into closed session to discuss leasing town property to the county.