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WKEB Local News Archives for 2017-10

Hammel Lake District Number 1 Approved

Hammel Lake District Number 1 Approved      10/26/17


  The future of Lake Esadore and adjacent lakes is financially in the hands of the new Town of Hammel Lake District number 1.  Property owners within the proposed district were presented with a petition to sign for approval of the district.  A total of 122 of the 161 owners, or 76% of those property owners signed their approval.  The district property owners will now be taxed based on their percentage of frontage for future enhancements to the lake dam.  The formation of the district virtually guarantees the future of the dam and lake with governing decisions made by a board of commissioners, consisting mainly of district landowners.  The Taylor County Board received background on formation of the lake district from supervisor Dave Krug who indicated that the initial slate of commissioners will include:  Dave Lemke, Steve Deml, Deb Berry, Terry Phillips, Dan Olson and alternate Brent Halgren.  Three County Board members will be named as commissioners.  The county board voted unanimously to approve formation of the Town of Hammel Lake District number 1.


Eleven Additional Issues For County Board

Eleven Additional Issues For County Board 10/26/17


  The Taylor County Board approved a number of resolutions and ordinances on Wednesday, October 25th.  The county library tax exemptions were approved.  In highway business, the 2017 bridge aid expenses, 2018 highway department equipment purchase schedule, and re-election of commissioner Jess Sackmann were approved.
  The county legal services with Schmiege & Graff was approved.
  The employees of Taylor County who are not affiliated with a union will see a 1% pay increase in compensation for 2018.
  The per diem pay for county board members will increase.  Supervisor Mike Bub felt the pay could stay at the current rate.  Dave Krug objected to getting paid for 3 meetings in one day indicating although it’s a rare occurance the third meeting is typically short.  His proposal to cap pay at $130 per day failed.  The original proposal to pay $65 for committee meetings, and $130 for full day meetings or conference passed with supervisors Bub and Krug voting no.
  The boundaries in districts 2, 7, 4 and 5 changed due to recent annexations into the city of Medford.
  The board approved adopting the provisions of state statute 75.521 for foreclosure of tax liens.  Tax deed land with dam structures may have the dam removed or retained depending on whether the Land Information Committee deems it financially in the best interest of Taylor County.
  Slight language changes to the county nonconforming uses and structures shoreland zoning was approved.
  The comprehensive community services coordination committee will include 3 members of the Taylor County Board. 
  Supervisor Ray Soper gave details of proposed legislation aimed at relaxing protections formerly imposed in regard to sulfide mining in Wisconsin.  Mr. Soper indicated that current regulations are designed to protect the environment.  The proposed regulations may put adjacent resources such as water in jeopardy.  The board went on record as opposing the relaxing proposals.


Powerline Funding Is Tough To Get

Powerline Funding Is Tough To Get     10/25/17

  One of the more contentious issues amongst Taylor County Board members is where to spend the money which is in the powerline impact fee account.  Two requests for funding were brought before the county board on Wednesday.  Supervisor Rollie Thums expressed his support of allocating $10,000 from the fund to help pay for a new American Legion Post building in Rib Lake.  Supervisor Mildbrand supported it because the building would be available for community use.  Supervisor Bub asked for clarification of what the money in the fund should be approved for.  It was explained that the fund is now earmarked for “The Public Good”.  Mr. Bub chuckled saying, "oh so that’s up to us to determine".  Supervisors Zenner and Krug expressed their opposition to funding the project for fear of setting a precedence of funding such facilities.  The vote to allocate $10,000 to the Rib Lake American Legion building received 7 no votes and failed by 1 vote as 2/3 of the majority needed to vote affirmative.

  The next request for powerline impact funding caused quite a stir.  The southern third of the Pineline Trail is being resurfaced.  The request was for $15,000.  Supervisor Bub indicated there was a lot of local support with individuals and organizations pledging over $11,000.  Supervisor Breneman asked why the funds weren’t coming out of the forestry account.  Forester Jake Walcisak indicated that the Pineline is a county park which comes under the buildings and grounds budget.  Supervisor Thums said that every cent in the Forestry department is public money and should be used to fund this project.  Clerk Bruce Strama said the reason the trail was designated as a park was so they could apply for grants.  Supervisor Soper proposed to substitute powerline funds with forestry funds but that measure failed.  Supervisor Bub offered a compromise with each fund paying half, $7500 from Forestry and $7500 from the powerline fund and the compromise vote was unanimously approved.  The total estimated cost of the Phase 1 portion of resurfacing 6.4 miles of the trail from Allman Street to Alfalfa Avenue is $125,840.  A grant from the DNR is paying for 80% of the expense.


Housing Office Remains In County

Housing Office Remains In County     10/25/17

  The Taylor County Board has decided to keep the administration of the county’s housing authority in the county.  With the pending retirement of coordinator Denise Johnson, Northwest Regional Planning of Spooner made a pitch to the board to take over the county’s housing authority administration.  Sheldon Johnson of Northwest Regional told the board that currently 5 of the 10 counties in their service territory rely on their housing authority services.  To pay for their services they would retain 15% of all activities which they administer. 

  Supervisor Knoll asked Johnson what the response time would be for someone who’s furnace stopped working.  Johnson replied that they should be able to complete the paperwork in a few days if the person was already on fuel assistance.  Anyone who is on energy assistance is eligible for weatherization programs and furnace replacement reimbursement he said.

  It’s estimated that the housing office at the court house which is now open 20 hours per week has about 10 inquiries per week.  Supervisor Zenner expressed his support for keeping the services in house indicating he didn’t want to see anyone fall through the cracks.  The current budget allows $38,000 annually for administrative expenses.

  Following the presentation by Northwest’s Sheldon Johnson the board began their budget hearing.

Line item amendments included decreasing county board per diem by $7,000,  an increase of bridge aids of $6,516, a decrease of the College Street special assessments by $27,000 due to overassessments by the city, and increasing the housing authority budget by $20,000 to allow for local staffing.  Supervisor Makovsky expressed his support of the local housing office to assist the people  who he termed as “downtrodden” by saying “either we’re human or we’re not”.  The vote to add the $20,000 for housing authority administration passed with supervisors Thums, Lewis, Brooks, Hanson, Bub and Mildebrand voting no. 
  For 2018 the Taylor County Housing Authority will continue to have office hours in the Taylor County courthouse.


Taylor County Mill Rate Set For 2018

Taylor County Mill Rate Set For 2018     10/25/17


  The Taylor County Board approved the 2018 budget on Wednesday, October 25th.  The tax rate for Taylor County property tax will increase from $8.19 per $1,000 of equalized value to $8.31 which equates to an increase of $12.00 on a $100,000 equalized value property. 

  Nearly 15 county residents attended the meeting to show their support for the U.W. Extension Family Living agent position.  Marie Frey expressed her support for the Strong Bones program and the need to maintain its availability for 2 days per week.  What caused concern was the fact that the committee cut the family living position to a .2 position while increasing the ag agent position from .5 to .8.

  Art Lurch the U.W. area director said that with the reduction in the extension budget of $15,000, it would be difficult to maintain the current strong bones programs with just a .2 position coordinator.
Supervisor Breneman asked whether the strong bones program could be facilitated by the county health department.  Lurch said he had been asking that question of the extension department and he hasn’t received any answers.   Breneman told the group that it was never the committee’s intention to eliminate the strong bones program and that they could be assured that the program would continue.
  County residents who spoke in favor of the Strong Bones program along with Marie Frey were Doreen Eldered, Mary Ann Kropp, Kris Werner, Fern Brown, Edith Heier, and Phillip Marthaler. 
  Supervisor Breneman expressed her support of the vital programs which the county offers.  She said it was a challenge when differentiating between what we would like to do and what we need to do. 

  Supervisor Lewis told the group that Taylor County is one of the highest taxed counties in the state comparing our tax rate of $8.31 to Chippewa County which is near $3.  The board voted to accept the amended budget including the changes at the extension department.  Supervisor Thums cast the lone no vote.


Taylor County Trails "Too Far From Population For Funding"

Taylor County Trails “Too Far From Population For Funding”


  At a recent meeting of the Taylor County Forestry and Recreation Committee,  a new member of the Forestry Department was introduced.  Jake Walcisak introduced Jordan Lutz.  Jordan is originally from the Amherst area, a graduate of UWSP with previous work as a forester in the Ironwood area.
  Logging in the county forests is continuing to meet their goals with 5 projects being established ranging in size from 41 to 91 acres.  For the year the goal is to involve 510 acres of timber sales from Taylor County owned forests.
  Jake Walcisak told the committee that a new concern regarding forest health has emerged.  A contract involving the harvest of pine poles has tested positive for a root rot fungus.  In an attempt to contain the spread of the fungus the logging contract will now include the harvest of all conifers in an area 80 to 100 feet surrounding the perimeter of the target area.  Walcisak indicated that the fungus is an airborne fungus which affects most species of conifers.  It was believed to have originated in Europe or Asia.  The fungus spread progress may be slowed by spraying recently cut stumps.  It was noted that the same fungus was detected in a pine plantation located northwest of Medford on private land nearly 10 years ago with minimal effect.
  In other outdoor issues, the Chelsea Lake dam repair project took another step forward.  A revised easement document will allow Taylor County representatives to access the dam to perform required maintenance.  The document was revised by county representatives and members of the Meyer Family which is allowing access across their land.  The committee approved the revised easements and the final step in the agreement process will be county board approval.
  The rural location of Taylor County resulted in cuts in federal grant programs which will have an adverse effect on the county ski and horse trails.  The federal grants for maintenance of the Rib Lake Ski Club trails have been reduced.  Meanwhile, the grants to help fund the Perkinstown ski trail and the county horse trail maintenance funds have both been cut to nothing.  One of the determining criteria in eliminating the federal funding was the fact that the trails are not located within 25 miles of a population center of 50,000 or more people.  The committee was hopeful that the grant funding would be restored.
  In a positive note:  with the combination of grants, local funding from the Taylor County Sportsmen’s Club, and local volunteers, nearly $75,000 in upgrades have improved the Pirus Shooting Range into a top notch shooting range.  The improvements offer sportsmen a safe environment to test and improve their target skills.
  Those were several of the topics which were discussed at a recent meeting of the Taylor County Forestry and Recreation Committee.




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