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Board passes lean budget in Gays Mills
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With little fanfare, the Gays Mills Village Board approved the 2013 budget and tax levy at their meeting Monday night.

The budget was the culmination of work that began in August and included two final meetings of the finance committee last week.

In their special meeting last Thursday, the finance committee was able to find some savings in their employee health insurance premiums and other areas, according to Gays Mills Village President Craig Anderson. With those savings, the committee restored some of what they felt were the most important items that had been cut from the budget.

Anderson told the board with the extra funds the committee had restored the part-time village clerk position held by Cheryl Klekamp last year. The committee also added small raises for the staff, which had not received any raise in three years. And, the finance committee provided a few thousand dollars to contract special police services for the village from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department. Those three changes were included in the final budget being recommended by the finance committee Monday night.

“It would be nice if we could find the money for some of the organizations, but we can’t do it,” village trustee Earl Winsor said.

Anderson put this year’s budget process in perspective.

“It was a tough process this year,” Anderson said. “We came in with a wish list….but were forced to go to the other end and slash everything.”

Essentially, the village was caught by rising costs occasioned by the relocation effort.

Anderson pointed out in his statement that the board protected some programs like the village-owned pool and a large amount of the village’s portion of the summer rec program.

The village president was also quick to point out that the village’s portion of tax levy was not up for 2013, although the county, school board or technical school district’s portion of the village resident’s tax bill might increase.

“We slashed spending and raised some revenue selectively (increasing some fees),” Anderson explained.

The village president said that while the village’s water budget was “good,” the sewer budget wasn’t as good. The board was forced to raise rates on the sewer usage and use savings in the budget to cover the rest of the increased costs.

Village trustee Kevin Murray moved to approve the Village of Gays Mills 2013 Budget and Tax Levy and trustee Aaron Fortney seconded the motion. The board passed the budget as recommended by the finance committee. The action created a general budget of $652,837, a water utility budget of $114,692 and a sewer budget of $156,389 for the village.

While much of the meeting focused on approving the recommended actions of the board’s committees, the board did tackle some new business and some referrals to committees.

The board approved a change to the Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map to change property located on De La Mater Road from residential to conservancy. The board also referred a rezoning request to change the property zoning form residential to conservancy.

The change to the comprehensive plan map and the proposed rezoning to conservancy would enable the Silvers, who own the property, to apply for a conditional use permit to build a campground.

Gays Mills Recovery Coordinator Julia Henley appeared before the board with a request to alter the developer’s agreement over the funeral home now under construction. Henley explained while maximum allowable grant money for the project coming from Community Development Bock Grants of $265,000 would not change, the percentage of the total would as the amount was increased from 48 percent to 58 percent of total costs to cover about $95,000 in unanticipated costs, which were not part of the initial bid. Those costs include landscaping and the replacement of furniture, fixtures and equipment from the old funeral home deemed not useable in the new building.

Village trustees Kevin Murray and Albert Zegiel took exception to Henley’s request and said the work should be completed at the bid amount.

Henley said important parts of the project were left  out of the specs for the initial bid. Under questioning  from the trustees, she acknowledged that higher bidders on the project had included some of the things that had been left out.

Ultimately, the board approved the revised developer’s agreement raising the total cost of the funeral home project by $95,000 to $485,223 with $265,000 CDBG funding and increasing the allowable percentage of grant funding to 58 percent.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• approved three change orders worth more the $3,000, as well as final payment, including the change orders, of $25,156  for Olympic Builders, the general contractor for the Community Commerce Center  

•denied a change order of $7,025 from Olympic for drywall work on the Community Commerce Center on the advice Vierbicher and Associates

• approved the final pay request of $15,496 to Niesen for landscaping work in the central business district of relocation Site A

• approved paying Fischl Construction a final payment of $5,162 for work on the EMS Building

• approved paying Fischl a final payment of $3,353 for work on the public works building

• agreed to pay an estimated $300 in flood insurance for an elevated residence, as required by law, because the owner did not have a policy

• approved allowing the Martins to remove shutters from their bought-out home in the floodplain

• heard an update on the purchase of the former Gays Mills Public Library on Main Street, which informed the board that Jim Showen no longer felt bound by the 30-day payment requirement because his original bid had been negotiated up at the meeting from $10,000 to $15,000 for the building

• agreed to request Wisconsin Department of Administration official Stan Kaitfors to extend some Community Development Block Grants for the rest of 2013

• amended the developer’s agreement with Coulee Cap to call the latest town house apartment Kickapoo Ridge Townhomes instead of Kickapoo Ridge LLC because the limited liability corporation with a private party never actually occurred