At the Clintonville City Council meeting, Tuesday, Nov. 11, the council voted not to cut its pay in half in 2015.
Alderman Mark Doornink made the motion to cut the council pay in half. It was seconded by Alderman Phil Rath.
Doornink said the 2015 budget includes $28,000 for city council salaries. The change would only impact the council members elected in April. Also, of those elected in April, two-thirds of the year would be paid at the lower rate. The council members not up for re-election in April would receive their normal pay until their election in 2016.
Council members up for reelection in April 2015 include Doornink, Rath, Bill Zienert, Amy Steenbock, and Greg Rose’s council seat.
Alderwoman Mary-Beth Kuester said she was concerned how cutting the council salary would impact younger citizens running for city council.
She also said council members are able to donate the money back to the city, which she said she does.
Doornink said looking at the budget, he was not aware of any council members donating their salary back to the city.
Kuester clarified that she donates her council salary to the Clintonville School District.
“I know it’s saying that we’re doing something, but this is such a small amount,” Kuester later added.
Council President and acting Mayor Jeannie Schley said the council gets paid $200 a month. She added that the pay has remained the same for at least 15 years.
“$200 isn’t a whole lot when you consider the time we put into it,” Schley said.
“If we didn’t’ get a raise for 15 years I think we donated a lot,” Adlerman John Wilson said.
The motion was defeated 4-5-1. Voting no were Wilson, Kuester, Schley, Alderman Jim Krause, and Alderwoman Gloria Dunlavy. Steenbock abstained from the vote.
The council also discussed the 2015 city budget in preparation for the public budget hearing that was scheduled for Nov. 18.
The discussion revolved around using fund balance to balance the budget.
Closing the outdoor swimming pool and the Rec Center building were also discussed.
See next week’s Clintonville Tribune-Gazette for the latest details about the budget passed by the council on Nov. 18.
Mike Krueger read a letter to the council on behalf of Mayor Judy Magee who has taken a medical leave of absence. In the letter, Magee addressed her leave of absence, and access to city hall.
“The continual attacks on me by the majority of you is exactly what I meant when I indicated my reasons for taking the leave,” Krueger read from Magee’s letter.
Magee also stated in the letter that according to the agreement agreed to by the council and signed by former City Administrator Lisa Kotter, Kotter was to collect her items from her office with Magee present. Magee said she chose a day when nobody else would be in city hall. This was out of respect for Kotter.
“I would not expect her or anybody else to be made to come to city hall when other employees and the public are there to make a spectacle of her departure. I sat with her the entire time as she cleaned up her work area. I approved and saw anything that she took as her personal belongings,” Krueger read from Magee’s letter.
Magee said Kotter took the two large photos on the wall because they belonged to her, as well as two boxes of personal items.
“Lisa and I did not take, destroy, or recycle any city documents that need to be kept for the city records. As a matter of fact we did not destroy anything,” Magee said in the letter.
Magee also stated in the letter that Kotter didn’t have a paper desk or wall calendar, or a stapler.
“It disappoints me that someone in the city is giving out false information that such items existed in Lisa’s office,” Magee said in the letter.
After finishing reading the letter from Magee, Krueger said it would be nice if the city council would stop the “witch hunts.”
Krueger also addressed the city budget.
“As I listen to you discuss using a slush fund, it shows how unwilling you are to put forth the effort to truly balance the budget. If you use the fund this year, you are in fact running a structural deficit for the full 2015 year. It does not make any sense. Find the problem and solve it. Don’t take the easy way out. You are paying someone $75 an hour to let you off the hook from doing your work,” Krueger said.
Brad Rokus also spoke about the proposed budget.
Stephanie Hintz spoke about the outdoor swimming pool. She said she would like to see a plan in place regarding the future of the pool before it is closed.
Timothy Zilch spoke about closing the Rec Center building. He asked the council to be considerate and help the food pantry that is located in the building.
The council heard a report about the three bids received for the wastewater UV system. The council was informed the equipment for the project was around $100,000 so it was expected the bids would be around $200,000. The three bids received were less than that figure.
The lowest bid was submitted by August Winter of Appleton in the amount of $157,465. The other two bids were from Heartland out of Slinger for $180,000 and from STAAB out of Marshfield for $172,700.
The council unanimously accepted the low bid of $157,465 from August Winter.
Clintonville City Attorney April Dunlavy told the council she has spoken with Toby Kersten, director of Public Works, and the city is in the process of having a raze/repair order served regarding the property of 164 N Main Street. No other information was given at the meeting. This property has been discussed in closed session at previous meetings.
Interim City Administrator Chuck Kell asked the council for a list of items he should work on.
Alderman Greg Rose recommended having the employee handbook updated. This would also include more defined job descriptions.
Kuester said she’d like to have employee health insurance researched. This would include the possibility of the city applying for insurance through the state of Wisconsin.
She also said she’d like to see a plan implemented for evaluating employees.
Gloria Dunlavy suggested Kell start actively searching for a permanent city administrator.
Kell asked what the city’s timetable is for hiring a permanent city administrator.
Dunlavy said as soon as possible.
The job description for the city administrator position needs to be updated before the search can start, Rose said.
Kuester said the search for a permanent city administrator isn’t urgent considering the budget constraints the city has. This includes paying the former city administrator until the middle of May.
“There are a lot of steps that we have to get through before we can hire someone to get all this stuff in order,” Schley said.
The current plan is for Kell to remain with the city until March.
Kell gave the council an update about Graceland Cemetery which is located on city-owned property. He said it looks like the cemetery might be able to financially make it through 2014. He added the city is prepared to help the cemetery if necessary.
The city already budgets $7,000 of financial support each year for the cemetery, Kell said. This was increased $1,500 this year knowing the financial difficulties the cemetery was having.
Kell said the city and the cemetery association are working on a transition plan for the city to take over. This would prevent the city from having to take over in a short amount of time. The 2015 city budget includes $15,000 to help the cemetery.
Kell added that the city is looking for ways to cut the expenses at the cemetery. This would include the city taking over some aspects of the cemetery.
“The ultimate transition plan then would be looking at the city taking over the total management of the facility in 2016,” Kell said.
Kuester said the council needs to discuss the cemetery. She expressed concern about money being placed in the budget without the council discussing it.
Kell said the cemetery association is talking about dissolving, in which case the council will become the cemetery board.
“We’re trying to stay ahead of the game here, and hopefully make this not so traumatic when it has to happen,” Kell said.
Schley said garbage collection had previously been discussed and was moved to March 2015 Finance Committee meeting for further discussion.
Kuester said she and Rose and Krause wanted to discuss the idea of the city implementing its own garbage collection. She originally asked to have it discussed during a Streets Committee meeting, but was told the topic will be discussed in March. Kuester then bypassed the committee level and had the topic place on this meeting’s agenda.
She said the idea the three of them had would be for the city to offer garbage collection. The collection wouldn’t be on the tax rolls, as citizens would have to pay separately for it.
Doornink said if the city doesn’t force citizens to use the city service, then the city has five different garbage haulers in the city.
“I don’t know if that achieves the goal,” Doornink said.
Doornink added that city staff did start gathering information about garbage collection.
“But due to the happenings of this summer, the events we went through with the administration and staff this summer, those things did fall through because we didn’t have time,” Doornink said.
Rose said the purpose is to float out a different idea. He admitted it is the early stages of the idea and it can be put on the “back burner.”
Doornink said this idea would probably add $100,000 to the city’s operating budget, which is already tight. He said garbage collection is not being ignored. The 2015 budget had to be completed first.
The council unanimously awarded the sidewalk snow and ice removal bid to Adam’s Small Engines.
The snow hauling bid was awarded to Kersten Trucking. It was noted that Kersten Trucking was the only company that supplied a bid.
The council referred the issue of wastewater on-call pay to the Utility Board.
The council approved hiring Mandy Kriesel to perform utility accounting work at $75 per hour, not to exceed 50 hours per month. The work will be performed evenings and weekends. She will obtain and return the city hall and office keys to the Clintonville Police Department every time she works.
Kriesel had been employed by the city as the utility accountant before giving her two week notice.
At the Oct. 28 council meeting, the council had agreed to hire Kerber Rose at a rate of $100 per hour for accounting help, not to exceed 50 hours per month without prior approval.
City staff was directed to obtain accounting support for the 2014 budget analysis to determine the electric revenue shortfall.
The council approved forgiving the education reimbursement for Kriesel. That replaced the $7,500 payment that was to be made to her in November.