The Gays Mills Village board met on Monday, May 1 and welcomed two new faces to the table.
Krista Eitsert and Erin Martin were both on hand as newly elected trustees to serve the Village. President Harry Heisz offered a warm welcome to the pair as the meeting began.
Director of Public Works Jim Chellevold was not in attendance at the meeting but concerns about pot holes on West Point Road and West River Road were both aired.
A request was also presented to the board from the Community Conservation group to plant a tree in the Log Cabin Park in memory of Rob Horwich. It was noted that the group wanting to plant the tree would work with Volunteer Forester Cindy Kohles and Chellevold on location and species.
During the Fire Department report, Board Trustee Aaron Fortney updated the board that the department is looking at buying a unit to be used strictly for grass fires, as well as new high pressure water sprayers.
Fortney also requested to move the recently restored 1929 Fire Truck into a village building. “If it could be in a controlled environment, that would be better on the truck,” Fortney noted.
The board approved putting the truck in village owned building.
Brad Niemcek was in attendance and introduced himself to the new board members and explained at length the functions of the Kickapoo Culinary Center as well as GMEDA (Gays Mills Economic Development Association), and the Kickapoo Stump Dodger Trail.
“The Trail has a 90 thousand dollar budget,” Niemcek explained. “The DNR will pay $45 thousand, we have a fund raising goal of $23.5 thousand and the rest will be paid in in-kind labor and services.” Niemcek continued to explain that the group was “nearly there” on their fundraising efforts for the DNR to match.
“The cash flow question that was dealt with was we the village doesn’t get reimbursed until the project is closed,” Niemcek told the board. “It should be done by October, and the board approved a line of credit, and the trail committee has pledged to reimburse interest on that credit. The past two weeks we have done some fund raising, including a Karaoke night at J&J on Main, which was a lot of fun, and we also had a very successful brush clearing on part of the trail.”
The Trail Committee Co-Chair went on to explain that they would like to erect a sign in the location of the historic Stump Dodge Train Depot.
“The DNR says it has to be temporary, and my legal advisor tells me as long as we say it’s temporary, its temporary,” Niemcek noted, “because it is in the floodplain it has to be able to be moved.”
Niemcek traded in his trail hat for his culinary director hat and also briefed the board about the functions of the Kickapoo Culinary Center as well as what has been happening recently.
“Things are a little slow right now, but we still have clients coming in regularly,” Niemcek noted. “The Gays Mills Sportsmen’s Club will have their annual fund raising dinner here, because it is so convenient to have the caterer come right in and serve in the room that is right there.”
Niemcek also explained to the board the desire by the Ridge and Valley Bee Keepers Group to do something nice for the Community Room.
“One piece of the Community Building room is that a number of people don’t pay to use it because they are tax exempt,” Niemcek explained. “The Ridge and Valley Bee Keepers are one of those groups and they would like to do something nice for the room.”
Niemcek explained that one of the common complaints about the room is that when the western sun is shining in the big windows, it is difficult see and to use the projector.
“The bee keepers don’t have a lot of money, but we were thinking blinds in the two windows where the need is greatest would be a good addition.” Niemcek offered “I know it might be strange just to have them in two windows, but if the board is ok with it I can look into the options.”
Niemcek also noted briefly that he had begun discussions with the shop teacher at North Crawford and benches for the trail may be built by the shop class as soon as this year, if the board provides the materials. No action was taken on this matter.
Some controversy arose during the approval of minutes from the April meeting.
“The minutes were changed,” Board Trustee John Johnson alleged. “What was put in that vote was to borrow the money to loan, and that was a fixed deal.”
“We are voting on the resolution tonight,” explained Heisz.
“I voted on a motion to start the process, not that it would be final,” Board Trustee Kim Pettit also offered up.
“It’s a two step process, it’s just how it is,” Fortney explained.
The motion carried to approve the minutes as presented with five in favor and Johnson opposed.
The discussion about the line of credit for the Stump Dodger Trail continued during the New Business Section of the agenda.
Newly appointed Board Trustee Erin Martin questioned the specifics of the line of credit.
“To make sure I understand correctly, this will be covered by the DNR?” Martin asked
“No, it is the villages responsibility,” Niemcek explained. “Basically the line of credit was in the amount of the $45 thousand, but we probably wont need it because of the in-kind labor contributions.”
“What I am specifically seeking is, what level of risk is this loan to the village?” Martin questioned.
“Hopefully zero,” Niemcek countered.
“That’s a big hopefully,” Martin continued “well what is the worst case scenario? What will be done?” Martin continued, “The line of credit has to be paid.”
“It will be paid by the DNR when the reimbursement comes through,” Niemcek said.
“We have nothing in writing saying the interest will be paid off,” Johnson chimed in. “When this started it wasn’t going to cost us a dime and now they’re hitting us up for $45 thousand.”
“I’m going to ask for a dollar figure on the risk to the village,” Martin asked again, “How close are you to your goal?”
“If we keep doing our book keeping right and do our job keeping track of the in-kind work and reporting it to the DNR- the person doing that is my wife,” Niemcek explained “we are above $22 (thousand) at this point (in funds raised).”
“So we are within a thousand?” Martin asked
“Yes,” Niemcek responded.
“I doubt it,” Johnson said.
“Well go ahead and doubt it John,” Niemcek concluded.
A discussion about the Sewer Customers with Flat Fee rates also raised questions.
The board learned that 26 village residents are paying a flat fee rate of $27.50 a month, even though they are not actually hooked up to village sewer lines.
Village Trustee Albert Zegiel seemed very troubled by this fact.
“I would like to make a motion to do away with this fee,” Zegiel expressed “they’ve paid enough forever, it’s just not right to be charging for something they’re not getting. It’s not fair and I think we should make a motion to remove the fee!”
Fortney explained that he has also been paying the fee for many years. When he moved in he was paying a fee because the sewer ran through his property, but wasn’t hooked up.
It was also speculated that perhaps the fee was implemented at one point to make it “easier to swallow” for those who had to pay for their sewer connection.
“I understand Al’s concern about the fairness of the situation,” Fortney expressed “but I’d like to review it to see if other peoples bills would go up.”
“I’m sorry we will have to pay more, but I feel terrible making people pay for what they’re not getting!” Zegiel expressed. “Let it go, give it up these people should not be paying for what they’re not getting!”
Village Clerk Dawn McCann alerted the board that the fees are required by a village ordinance.
“Well, put it on the menu for the next meeting,” Zegiel urged.
“We have to have time to get it out for people to review,” noted Heisz.
It was decided that the board would table the issue to allow for more time to review changes to the ordinance. Zegiel withdrew his previous motion.
In other news:
•The next meeting date is set for June 5
•The village agreed on a resolution for temporary vending permit fees and local non-profit exemptions
•Agreed to pay the monthly bills
•Learned about the Arbor Day Foundation meeting held in the village
•Firework application for Aaron and Nicole Fortney was approved
•2017 Committee Assignments were made. Aaron Fortney traded positions with Harry Heisz. Fortney will serve on Roads and Heisz Public Safety.