SOLDIERS GROVE - The Soldiers Grove Village Board spent little time passing three percent sewer and water rate increases at their meeting last Thursday.
The village has been told for years by their accounting firm that rates need to be raised to cover the increasing expenses. Actually, the three percent increase probably is not enough, but it was all the board could handle adding to rates at this time.
Village trustee Vicki Campbell made all three motions involved in the rate increases and trustee Shayne Chapman seconded two of the three motions.
“Honestly, it’s not ever enough,” Chapman said after the motions passed by what appeared to be unanimous voice votes. “But if we can’t do full one (rate increase), at least we’re doing something.”
The first motion raised sewer rates three percent on both the fixed and volume charges for 2019.
The second motion, made by Campbell and seconded by Jerry Miller, approved a new list the Sewer Residential Equivalency Unit charges for 2019. This list establishes how many fixed charges a business will pay based on the volume of usage.
The third motion approved filing a Simplified Rate Case Application through the Public Service Commission for raising water rates three percent. A larger raise in rates would require a more complicated application and other things.
The meeting began with public input from former Soldiers Grove firefighter Ben Clason’s parents, Ellen and Otto Clason.
Ellen asked the board to explain the reasoning behind terminating Ben Clason as a firefighter.
“He terminated himself,” Soldiers Grove Village President Steve George said. “He left. He resigned.
“His actions, email and texting were not suitable (for holding the position),” George added. “That night we chose another fire chief.”
However, Ellen Clason noted that Ben remained on the department and was going on calls.
At that point, village trustee Vicki Campbell informed the Clasons that they would need to talk with the attorney representing the village.
“We can’t discuss it,” Campbell said. “Everything needs to go through our attorney.”
Pat Murphy appeared before the board representing the local ATV-UTV club with a request to have the village board make all village streets open for the legal use of ATVs and UTVs.
Murphy advised the board that the village would not have to mark every street. Multiple signs prominently posted declaring the village streets were open to ATV-UTV use would be sufficient to notify motorists and others.
“You’re just making legal what people are doing now anyway,” Murphy noted.
Boscobel, Richland Center and Readstown have already declared their streets legal for ATV-UTV use, according to Murphy.
“If you have any problems, you have the right to shut them down,” Murphy added.
Regulations over ATV-UTV use on streets in Crawford County include that they can only be operated on designated streets and highways between the hours of 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. Operators must have driver’s licenses. The ATV-UTVs must be registered and occupants of UTVs must wear seatbelts. Operators and passengers under 18 must wear helmets. Murphy stated that to date there have been no incidents with ATV-UTV use on streets or highways reported to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department.
Village trustee Shayne Chapman asked if the sheriff’s department was aware of all the rules governing the use of ATV-UTVs. Murphy said the department was aware of the rules.
Chapman made a motion to allow ATV-UTV use on all streets in the village of Soldiers Grove. Roy Davidson seconded the motion. It was approved by the board.
Cynthia Olmstead approached the board with a cost-share request on work to fix a Storm Sewer Drainage problem at the back door of the Driftless Brewing building. After some discussion, the board agreed it would pay half the cost of a concrete ramp and other improvements at the back door to eliminate flooding of the building from the parking lot that surrounds it.
Later, in the meeting during the Soldiers Grove Community Development Corporation report, Olmstead requested the board approve adding the Driftless Brewery’s portion of the improvement ($2,338) and another $1,800 for a larger water main to the business’s loan from the CDC.
Vicki Campbell, a former member of the CDC board, cautioned the village board that adding the amount to the loan would bring the loan amount close to $40,000. She told the board they needed to consider the precedent they were creating by increasing the total loan amount.
Campbell and other board members were quick to point out that the business made every payment on the loan to this point on time and in full.
Village trustee Paul Nicholson noted there were no red flags with this individual business that he could see and moved to increase the amount by $4,138 to be used for the back door improvements and the installation of the larger water main.
In making her request for the loan, Olmstead noted that both expenses were previously unanticipated.
In other business, the Soldiers Grove Village Board:
• approved proceeding with the annexation of the Rick and Deb Olson property at 11832 3rd Street to bring them sewer service and possibly municipal water service
• agreed to donate $750 to the North Crawford Summer Recreation Program
• learned the fire department has scheduled a Christmas party for December 8 at the American Legion
• heard that the old fire department brush truck and some unused equipment was taken to the Wisconsin Surplus Auction in Mt. Horeb
• approved the purchase of sand and salt for the winter
• approved getting bids on a raze-and-remove order for the building a 100 Prospect Avenue
• approved payment of $17,095 to Iverson Construction for paving work on Park Avenue and Pleasant Street
• approved a picnic license application for Big Buck Rod-n-Gun Club
• approved a 2019-2020 Maintenance Assessment Contract with Equity Appraisal LLC
• set Trick or Treat hours for 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31