Rushford Annual Town Board Minutes

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The 2010 Annual Town of Rushford Board meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm on April 13th, 2011 by Chairman Tom Egan followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. 


Present for all of part of the meeting was 16 persons per attendance record on file, although several others were presented, but did not sign in.


Chairman Tom Egan welcomed everyone and thanked everyone for their support in the election.


Nicole Bahn was present to swear in the officials for 2011-2013 term.  Thomas Egan – Chairman, Patrick Kafer and Jerry Schoonover – Supervisors, Peggy Hendricks – Clerk, Kathryn Lewis – Treasurer and Sean Edinger – Constable took the oath of office.


Berlin Mayor Dick Schramer for the Berlin Boat Club was the first guest speaker.   He is the treasurer for the Berlin Boat Club and they have been working on the restoration of the Eureka Locks.  In 2009, CR Meyer came in to attempt to dewater the locks.  They could not do the work, for the lower stop logs would not seal properly.  The boat club banned together and they got the City of Berlin to donate some pumps to dewater the locks and repair the seals.  CR Meyer came in and did an inspection.  The result was a firm quote which then was presented to a donor.  A contract was signed with CR Meyer for $262,000.  There is a $150,000 donation and the donor will also loan the boat club $112,000 interest free for 2 years.  Dewatering will be done by the Berlin Boat Club.  CR Meyer will keep the locks dewatered and will remove the upstream and downstream stop logs.  They will patch the concrete, repair the sidewalls, valves will be refurnished, replaced and repainted.  Gates and handicap access will be replaced.  Excluded are the rack gears that pull back the gates & the turnstiles, which the Berlin Boat club will take care of.  They plan on having the locks operational by the July 4th weekend. 


The Berlin Boat club has a website at where progress and pictures will be posted.  Membership applications, donation forms and job application for lock tender will also be on the web page. 


Tom Egan inquired if the Omro Boat club was involved in the restoration project.  Mayor Schramer stated that the Omro Club has had fund raisers in the past to contribute.  Some of the members have been down to help with dewatering, but this restoration project is a Berlin Boat Club focal point.


The old lock tender house is gone and the lot is clear.  They will pour a parking pad and put an RV there for shelter for the Lock tender. 


Jon Groth, Winnebago County Highway Department reported that there is no new information on the Eureka bridge project which is expected to start in 2012.  This has been delayed for there were  things that had to be done for the Historic Preservation in Madison.  The height and clearance of the bridge will be comparable to what the bridge in Omro is for boat traffic. 


Other major projects for 2011 is County road FF from 21 to county K which will be a mil and overlay, Poygan from Omro city limits out to D will be a 5” mil, MM from Richter lane out to County Road M. 


They have started road checks in the townships.  The Town of Rushford’s road trip with John is scheduled for tomorrow, April 14 at 9:00. 


It was asked why surveying is being done on Hwy 116.  He stated that a major project is scheduled for 2017, but it might turn into a more intensive project then just a mil and overlay.  It is possible that it might be pushed up in time.


Fire Chief Jay Treleven from the Rushford-Omro Fire Department presented general facts and figures from the previous year.  They have 52 members and 4 probationary.  There are 23 first responders and they had 438 runs in their last fiscal year which runs August 1 to July 31.  He stressed that the fire fighters and the first responders do not receive any compensation for their efforts.  They are all volunteers.  They have offered pay in the past years, but they have declined.  It is questionable if this can continue with the cost of fuel.   There were 71 fire runs from August 1st to February 1st. 


The budget for last year went down.  He commended the board for asking good questions at the meetings, for the fire department is accountable to the town of Rushford, the town of Omro and the City of Omro.  It’s a good relationship and it is very advantages not only for taxes but also for grant applications.  They received a grant from FEMA for $62,000.  This is a 95%/5% funded grant, which was used for firefighting gear for 40 members.


Their 48th annual street dance will be June 10th of this year.  They cannot send tickets though the mail, rather the Federal government says it has to be face to face.  They have been training doing live house burns along with other fire departments.  The monies from fund raisers are ear marked for certain items, such as the last fund raiser which was held, the monies were ear marked for a 4 wheeler for grass fires. 


It was inquired on what the status was with radios for the fire department.   The radio system they have now is over 50 years old and is in dire need of replacement.  The question is how much money the politicians will give to help the replacement costs.  The federal government as of 2012 requires radios to be a “narrow band”.  In the past 3 years, the fire department has been replacing radios as needed with this requirement. 


Tom Egan inquired what happens if a resident does not have a burning permit and the fire department gets called out.  Mr Treleven said it is one on one with the fire department.  They are told they need to get a burning permit if they are to do any kind of burning.  They still put the fire out and in his years of experience, they have never had a repeat offender.  A person can call the sheriff’s department to let them know they are burning.  This is usually not advisable, for they do not know if it is someone who has a control burn or if it is a fire that got away, but it is allowable.


Pat Kafer stated he would like to charge a resident for a grass fire costs from the fire department if they do not have a town burning permit.  Our fire permits are free and there is educational information and guidelines on the permit issued. 


Dave Tellock, General Manager from Veolia in Omro reviewed some information on using the totes to help increase recycling.  A lot of things have changed with the new budget, for there is a possibility the grant money to townships for recycling will not be there any longer.  Nothing is known for sure until the budget is finalized.  Many projects are on hold to see what will happen.  They are working on a proposal to give the town more benefits & service without raising the costs.  It was asked what effect Madison will have on recycling.  Mr Tellock stated that they could have a huge effect.  The way the proposed budget reads now, is that recycling will be mandatory, but there will not be grant money for the towns for recycling.  It would be up to the community to come up with ways and funds for recycling. 



Larry Timm, the Towns assessor, was the next guest speaker.  He stated his job is to make sure everyone is paying their fair share of property tax according to what the law required.  There were 15 arms length residential sales in the town last year.  The average of the selling and assessment price ratio was 98.7%.  Mr Timm has been busy assessing properties for this year.  If your assessment changes, you will received a certified letter.  If you feel your assessment is too high, you can attend open book to discuss this with the assessor.  If a satisfactory conclusion does not come from the assessor, you can file an appeal with the board of review.  A hearing would be held and a decision is made.  If an error is made on the tax bill that was because of wrong assessment, a resident would have until January 1st to request a refund from the town.  It is helpful if residents or board members would inform the assessor is any changes to a property is made, such as a building being torn down, etc


It was asked if a building is in very bad shape where the insurance companies will not cover it, is it still assessed.  Mr Timm replied that he puts a nominal value on a building for it has a small purpose.  Tom Egan asked if we could set a date for open book.  It was decided that a date would be set at the May 4th town board meeting.


Peggy Hendricks went though the Annual Report 2010 Booklet that was available for the residents.  The booklet contains general information, the 2010 annual report, budget summary, 2010 annual meeting minutes and the recycling calendar. 


Patsy Pomplun asked if we ever received all the contributions for the playground project.  Hendricks replied that we have not gotten the donation from Rew-Ross memorial yet, but we have received the grant money from Alliant energy.  She stated that in the paragraph about Rushford Walking Trail in last year’s minutes it is stated “to keep cars, parties and cars out.”  She feels it is not worded correctly.  The next sentence states “ Fred Kasten said he will put a cable and post up so the gate can be taken out.”  She states this is not correct that the gate was never to be taken out.  It should of read “Fred Kasten said he will put a cable and post up so the gate can be taken down for repair.”


It should be noted that the 2010 annual minutes will be corrected to:  “Patsy stated it was to keep cars out so there would not be parties down there.”


Patrick Kafer complimented the clerk on the Annual Report Booklet. 


Tom Egan asked what WMCA was under dues.  It stands for Wisconsin Municipal Clerk Association.


Peggy Hendricks mentioned that when Ken Rew presented the donation for the playground, it would be nice if it was a presentation with pictures so a news article could be written. 


It was asked what the County Septic fee was in the annual report.  This is a fee the county charges each homeowner on the tax bill, which in turn we send to the county.  The illegal tax on the annual report was when the town paid for an error on the assessment of property which tax was paid by the land owner.  Portions of this will be refunded from the county, state and schools.  The town is liable for the property tax difference. 


Chairman Egan opened the meeting to open forum.   Tom Egan stated that he was called by our humane officer because a lady was bit over on Delhi road.  The Sheriff’s department was called and the owner was fined for dog running at large.  Our humane officer inquired if he could fine the owner for unlicensed dog for $100.  The police report was available.  It was asked what is stated in our ordinance.

Under penalties, it states not less than $25, more than $1000.  It has been discussed previously that the zoning committee is planning on going though our ordinances to clarify warnings and penalties.   


It is a state law and a town ordinance that dogs have to be licensed.  A warning does not have to be given if a dog is not licensed.  Motion by Kafer, 2nd by Schoonover to have Chuck Mier issue a $25 ticket for a first offense for non-licensing of dog to the owner of the dog.  Motion carried.


Pat Kafer asked what should be done with fire runs.  Tom Egan had a person call who had wanted to burn.  They had a hole dug, had called the sheriff’s department and was supervising the burn.  They did an excellent job, but they had not gotten a burning permit.  Pat Kafer stated he would like to see everyone get a burning permit.  If they have a grass fire that gets away and the fire department has to be called, he feels the owner should have to pay for the fire run if they do not have a burning permit. 


Jerry Schoonover stated he has some people call every time they will be burning a small pile of leaves.  Fred Kasten said he thinks everyone should have a burning permit for grass, brush, small buildings, etc.  The point is not about the money.  It is that the town is aware someone will be burning.  People should be aware that this is the program the town follows.   Both Sean Edinger and Tom Jackson agreed with Fred Kasten.  Tom Egan said even if they have a burning permit, residents should still call the dispatcher or the Comm centers to verify conditions are favorable for burning. 

Motion by Patrick Kafer, 2nd by Patsy Pomplun that if the fire department is called out for a intentionally lite fire and if they do not have a burning permit issued from the town, the person will be charged for the fire call.  Motion carried.


Tom Egan stated this should be put in the spring newsletter so residents will be aware that they will need a burning permit.


Tom Egan asked Fred Kasten to update the residents on Farmland Preservation.  Fred stated that they will be having a meeting tomorrow.  There has been discussion about going with a 3-tier system.  Tier 1 would be exclusive agriculture – A-1.  General agriculture would be tier 2 and tier 3 would be the encouragement zones.  Right now there is a penalty of around $600/acre if a person would like to rezone out of A-1.  These fees were to buy conservation easements.  It has been discussed that this penalty or conversion fee will no longer be there in the future.  There is still a lot of work to do and informational meetings will be held for the public.  It is hopeful that the county will have everything done by the end of 2011.  It is not mandatory for a landowner to sign up for this program. 


Patsy Pomplun asked why a subdivision that is zoned residential pays taxes as agricultural land.  She feels we should get more taxes for retaining a subdivision.  Mr Timm explained that as long as the land is being used for agricultural, that is how it will be taxed until the lot is sold and a home is built on the parcel.  At that time, the state will charge the conversion fee to the owner. 


Fred Kasten talked about renewed energy and being “green”.  There has been interest in the township for wind turbines and there will be a guest speaker at the April 27th zoning meeting.  At this time, the state does not have any regulations on the siting of wind turbines.  This is the wave of the future and the town will have to look at creating an ordinance once the state has something written up.  At this time, a Conditional use permit would be required for a resident to build a wind turbine in the Town of Rushford because we have height restrictions.  Fred invited everyone to come to this informational meeting on April 27th. 


Motion by Pat Kafer, 2nd by Gerald Schoonover to adjourn the meeting at 8:45.  Motion carried. 


Respectfully Submitted by Peggy Hendricks, Clerk