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Rebuttal to comments, plenty of discussion on abatement

SHULLSBURG – Comments that were made to the Republican Journal after the Shullsburg City Council meeting on July 3 were addressed at their regular board meeting on July 17, along with plenty other business on the full agenda.

Mayor Duane Wedige felt cheated out of a response to Alderman Emmett Reilly’s comments that were not said during the last regular meeting.

“First, I don’t think much of anyone approaching the reporter after the meeting. I think this I appalling and we were stabbed in the back in this situation. If you have something to say, say it at the council meeting,” Wedige began.

In the July 11 edition of the Republican Journal, Reilly told the reporter the day after the meeting that he felt the city was practicing “poor business” in that wording in the manual for the revolving loan fund needed to be changed because it was “written like it is still part of the states’ revolving loan fund”. He also commented that the city is alienating people with the issue of the abatement process for a property in violation of the Public Nuisance ordinance for maintenance and appearance and spending too much money on painting the water tower without having it go out for bids.

Wedige stated they have been discussing the abatement of the property for years and nothing has been done so it is “time to move on. We have been more than fair”.

Wedige praised City Treasurer Marsha Einsweiler for the job she has done on it and that they were “doing everything by the book”.

“We are still working somewhat off of the state-revolving loan, which is more stringent than what ours is going to be. The attorney is working on the changes but is not done yet,” Wedige said.

The city is following what the state says they can do with the water tower, Wedige added. He continued that the $600,000 tower for 20 years is a lot less than if the city built a new one, which would cost $1.2 million. Then in 20 years, with interest, the tower would have cost the city $1,597,000.

“In 20 years we probably wouldn’t have painted it inside and out, which we haven’t done to this tower in 27 years. Going this route, we will have a tower that will be painted very shortly, inside and out, and all of the equipment will be up-to-date with the DNR. I don’t see how this is even an issue. The council did the right thing.”

Wedige then addressed Reilly saying, “If you can’t see that then I’m sorry. Those are the fact.”

Reilly asked to respond. Wedige reminded him that the council did not get the chance to respond to his comments.

Reilly stated the reason he did not say anything during the council meeting was due to health reasons and not feeling well that day.

“Second, you did that business in public comment which I feel is appalling. That is just wrong,” Reilly insinuated.

Reilly stated he disagreed with the way that Wedige was “wasting 100% of the taxpayers money” when the city could be doing the water tower project for half price.

“The money you are spending and then trying to take elderly ladies out of their homes and going after an elderly man on his property completing, I think you and Mr. Paquette ought to resign now,” Reilly chastised.

Public Abatement

Wedige was ready to move on with the abatement at 227 E. Water Street, stating that attorney Nathan Russell had the paperwork drawn up and the council should move on.

“We gave them a two week extension and nothing has been done,” Wedige commented.

Reilly disagreed saying the owner had picked up the garbage but had told him that nothing else would be done with the heat.

“I suggest we sit down and talk with her and not go ahead with the abatement. I don’t want to spend city money on something that can be solved sitting at a table,” Reilly argued.

Alderman Jim Paquette questioned Reilly on the money the city would be spending, stating the city would get the money back.

Reilly retorted, if we win. They had listened to a discussion from a community member that a property being abated had taken several years in the court system and cost the city $100,000.

Einsweiler stated that was a different property that wasn’t in good condition and took quite a bit of money to fix it up.

“Why does anyone think something is going to happen? Nothing happened last time so someone did it for them. We have been working on this for two to three months. Now you think something is going to happen?” Paquette disputed.

“No body sat down and discussed a solution. This just isn’t the right way to do this,” Reilly responded.

Wedige asked Shullsburg Police Chief Josh Jerry how long he has been working on the situation. Jerry replied that is has been months but the property has had issues before he ever came to Shullsburg.

“We have given them enough time to take care of the problem,” Wedige concluded.

“Why would you pick on a lady that doesn’t have control over her situation? We should sit down and find a solution. This bullying and meanness is not working. There are other strategies,” Reilly suggested.

Alderman Gloria Swenson asked what strategies. Reilly answered that he has strategy ideas but would not discuss them at that time.

“It is past time,” Paquette interjected.

Alderman Pat Heim made the motion to initiate the abatement process for the property in violation of Section 10.05 – Public Nuisance relating to Maintenance & Appearance. Paquette seconded. The motion passed 3-1 with Reilly against.

Other Business

The council discussed acquiring a property at 148 W. Water Street, The Copeland House, through eminent domain.

Wedige stated that nothing has been done to the building in 40 years and it was getting time to force someone to do something to it. He didn’t know if the council could do anything but wanted to pursue something to see if they can push someone to get something done. He was told that there were raccoons coming out of the building. Chief Jerry contacted the owner and the owner agreed to take care of the problem.

Swenson suggested they invite the owner to a meeting to discuss the issues. Wedige was not opposed to the idea.

Wedige also brought up the idea of amending some of the Parkview Subdivision Covenants. He has heard some feedback on getting them changed and wanted to see if the council would support looking into the changes. Some of the changes would be to change the right away from 42 ft. from the street to 30 ft., which would help increase the backyard space. Another suggestion would be allowing people to build on a cement slab. Wedige talked to Bart Neis of Delta 3 and Nies said the owners would be responsible to have the contractor or engineer get the specs to Delta 3 and then they would bring that information to the council to get it approved. Wedige also wanted to make changes to the size of the house requirements of a single-family dwelling.

Public Comment

Two members of the gallery asked the council to consider changing the speed limit for ATVs/UTVs in the city and allowing ATVs/UTVs to be able to travel anywhere, such as downtown. Swenson mentioned how she had talked to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation several times about changing the speed limit of Hwy. 11 in town from 40 to 35 so that ATVs can drive on it, creating access to the Wheel In, gas station and the hardware store for ATV riders.

Approved items

The Shullsburg City Council approved:

-operator license applications for Kelli Raney, Valerie L. Halverson, Amy S. Lawrence and Stacy L. Fry.

-the purchase of a snow plow from Monroe Truck for $8,379. This was approved earlier in the year but the price had changed by $442. The original price quote was not written down and was only given verbally so the board did not have concrete confirmation on the price.

-a contract with Johnson Controls for Fire Alarm System in the Shullsburg Community Townsend Center for $955/year for a five year contract.

-joining the Lafayette Development Corporation and paying annual dues of $6,045, which is $5/person in the city based on the population on the state website that states Shullsburg has a population of 1,209.

-modifications to the TIF #7 loan.

-a renewal of TIF #6 Industrial Lot Real Estate Contract with Teasdale Realty.