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Gays Mills Village Board approves being sponsor of an ad campaign
Maura Otis
GAYS MILLS LIBRARIAN Maura Otis retired in June of 2018 after 32 years of serving the community. Otis is shown here (center) being presented with a plaque in recognition of her years of service by Village President Harry Heisz (left) and Village Clerk Dawn McCann (right).

GAYS MILLS - The Gays Mills Village Board acted quickly at their meeting Monday night to approve a Driftless Wisconsin Sponsorship Request at the $500 level.

The sponsorship will allow the village to have its logo and link to their website on a landing pad page of Driftless Wisconsin focused on things for tourists to do when visiting the area.

When Crawford County Tourism’s Eric Frydelund made the request for the sponsorship, he explained the group no longer had the Wisconsin Department of Tourism JEM (Joint Effort Marketing) Grant that had supplied $20,000 for the Driftless Wisconsin ad campaign in the past. The local tourism official said this year his group was trying to raise $12,000 for the ad campaign from the Crawford and Vernon counties, as well as from the cities and villages in those counties.

Gays Mills Village President Harry Heisz explained the request for the Driftless Wisconsin sponsorship was not in the budget, but there was $3,000 for tourism in the budget.

Village trustee Lee Ruegg made the motion to approve the request at the $500 level and Kim Pettit seconded the motion.

Village trustee Albert Zegiel pointed out that the board had voted against making a similar donation last year.

Frydenlund also passed out the Driftless Wisconsin map. He noted the number printed this year is increasing from 40,000 to 45,000 and it will be distributed in the I-90/I-94 coordinator.

The local tourism official also explained the targets of the ad campaign are the greater metro areas of Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. The emphasis is on silent sports biking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking and more.

Frydenlund also made some claims about the previous success of the Crawford County Tourism Website and the Driftless Wisconsin ad campaign. He said that UW-Extension had verified much of the success of the effort with a market survey.

The return on investment was calculated to be $50,000, according to Frydenlund. However, he also claimed the Facebook page had 13,000 likes and the website had 100,000 visitors.

Village trustee Erin Martin questioned how some of the information was gathered and whether the recording of users was entirely accurate. She asked specifically if one person making repeated visits to thepage would be identified and the information corrected for the action.

Frydenlund said he was confident the information about visits and usage was accurate.

On what appeared to be a three-two voice vote the board approved the motion of $500 sponsorship for Driftless Wisconsin. The village will be added immediately to the page for the ad campaign, which got underway last week and will run into July.

The board also heard a report on TID #1 eligible expenditures and projects from Vierbicher Engineering’s Kurt Muchow.

Muchow told the board that the TID Joint Review Board had been unable to meet, so a three-year extension for the tax incremental financing district had not bee approved. However, the consultant told the board he had some confidence it would be extended, when the Joint Review Board does meet.

The Joint Review Board is made up of the village president, an appointed at-large member, and representatives of the North Crawford School District, the South West Technical College and Crawford County. The school district, technical college and county are all taxing units that receive revenue from taxes on land now in the TID.

Of course the biggest development of TID #1 is  the original building of BAPI (an HVAC sensor manufacturer) and their recent expansion. However, because of the TID designation all the increased revenue of that development has been retained by the TID and ultimately the village for development of infrastructure within the TID.

Now as the 20-year TID is ready to expire, a sizeable sum has built up that must be spent on TID projects or it will be divided among the taxing units.

Muchow has previously approached the board with list of such projects. One of the most favored and most expensive of those projects is construction of a pedestrian –bike path from BAPI to the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center along Highway 131. Other projects on the list include installing three-phase electrical power throughout the vacant lots of the Applewood Business Park; building a sidewalk from Highway 131 to the Marketplace, a convenience store: repaying the village’s general fund $10,000 in interest payments made by the village on loans for previous infrastructure projects in the TID; and possibly building a path from BAPI to the railroad grade to the west of the company that could become part of a trail system.

Muchow told the board as he has before that certain items on the list are contingent on whether the TID Joint Review Board grants the extension and what the amount of the bids on the project totals. In fact, the motion ultimately approved by the board outlining the project list includes a statement that it is contingent on funds available based on whether the extension is granted and the amount of the bids.

Obviously, the biggest factor in completing projects on the list is how much money will be available. Revenue from the original 20-year TID will be about $340,000, according to Muchow. If the three-year extension is granted by the TID Joint Review Board then there will be an estimated additional $195,000 bringing the total to about $535,000. The complete project list has a total estimated price tag of $539,000.

If bids are high or the extension is not granted, the first project to be scratched according to priorities agreed upon by the board and Vierbicher would be the path from BAPI to the railroad grade.

Depending on the results of bids and the extension, the village may or may not do everything on the list, Muchow explained to the board.

“You don’t want to spend money you don’t have,” Muchow said.

However, the village must spend whatever money it is going to spend from the projected surplus by September 28, 2018, according to the rules of the TID. That means there must be signed contracts for the construction by that date.

The village will also have to borrow money for some of the work because the last of the revenue will not be delivered until 2027 if the three-year extension is granted.

As part of the motion, the board also passed an agreement for Vierbicher Engineering Consulting Services. Muchow told the board that the services billing would be adjusted on piece-by-piece basis as it was bid earlier. So if part of the project list were to be dropped, the billing would be adjusted to not charge for that particular item.

Former Gays Mills Village President Craig Anderson, present for the meeting, questioned whether it was advisable to install the three-phase power everywhere in the business park if there were no businesses locating there at this point. He advised that three-phase power should be installed if needed as part of the negotiating process with business interested in locating in the business park.

Village trustee Aaron Fortney sought to correct Anderson on one point, saying the three-phase power was not meant to “lure businesses” to the TID, but rather to make the lots in the TID “more attractive.”

For his part, Anderson still thought that leaving the three-phase power as part of the negotiation on the build out for specific companies that would require it was a smarter way to go.

Village Trustee Erin Martin moved to approve the TID #1 Eligible Expenditures and Projects and the agreement for Vierbicher Engineering Consulting Services contingent on whether the TID extension was granted and what the amount of the bids might be. Zegiel seconded the motion and it seemed to pass unanimously on a voice vote.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• received swimming pool update from new manager Lysianne Peacock that scheduled the opening for Monday, June 11, when the amount of chlorine and the temperature should be about right

• heard a report on the Kickapoo Culinary Center indicating that it is at a slow point in usage struggling to continue to pay the bills and keep going with two current clients and two others kitchen director Brad Niemcek is talking to

• approved annual alcohol beverage license applications for the Marketplace Group LLC, Class ‘A’ Beer and Liquor; Kickapoo Exchange Natural Foods Co-op, Class ‘A’ Beer and Liquor;  Halver’s Town Tap LLC, Class ‘B’ Beer and Liquor; J&Js on Main LLC, Class ‘B’ Liquor.

• approved Cigarette License Applications for the Marketplace, J&Js on Main and Halver’s Town Tap

• approved 32 Operators’ License Applications

• agreed to donate $100 to Crawford County Clean Sweep, a chemical, prescription drugs, electronics collection event

• adopted a resolution authorizing the sale and conveyance of real estate to Free Time LLC for the purpose of allowing BAPI to construct a solar power array

• tabled a resolution authorizing the sale and conveyance of real estate at 103 School Street to Kevin & Risha Murray until the property lines could be established

• set the next meeting date for Monday, July 2, 2018

After meeting in closed session to discuss legal advice regarding litigation in which the village is likely to become involved regarding a possible foreclosure for the purpose of negotiation for sale and conveyance of real estate, the board reconvened in open session.

The board voted to not take any action on the Timothy and Amanda Copus house, located on Sunset Ridge Avenue in the village, and to let Crawford County proceed with the foreclosure action that they have begun.

The board also voted to authorize village president Harry Heisz to negotiate the sale of a lot to the Barrel Cat Distillery, a start-up business looking to locate in Gays Mills.