Chairman’s Update 9/23/2019
By now, most of you have heard that the Planning Commission presentation and vote on the gravel pit was cancelled. Bob Kordus of Asphalt Contractors called us saying Walworth County wanted more details on his proposal and he wasn’t ready to present to us. The County has advised us in the past that it is important that the presentation to the Town is the same as the one being presented to the County. While we would like to see this issue resolved, it is important to follow proper procedures. The Planning Commission presentation is tentatively scheduled for October 24, assuming Kordus satisfies the County.
Incidentally, from now on, whenever a conditional use permit request or a rezone is scheduled for the Planning Commission, we will hold a public hearing after the presentation and before a vote so residents can ask questions of the petitioner and voice any concerns.
Recently, there have been relatively large crowds attending both Town Board and Planning Commission meetings. Sometimes it is difficult for people in the opposite ends of the room to hear what is being said. Jim Simons reminded me after the recent Board meeting that earlier someone had asked about the possibility of a PA system. We’ve recently purchased a portable system which should help alleviate this problem. Thanks, Jim, for the reminder.
Small towns and villages all over the state are facing a serious shortage of volunteer fire and emergency medical (EMS) personnel and are forced to hire a few fulltime staff members to supplement their volunteers. We currently contract with East Troy and Lyons for our fire and EMS services which, by State law, we have to provide to Town residents. Spring Prairie pays both departments a percentage of their costs as our share of the services provided to us. Lyons, right now, is on the verge of hiring full time EMS staff to supplement their volunteers. We will have to help fund these new positions.
Spring Prairie operates with a balanced budget every year and tries to keep the Town’s portion of property taxes at a minimal level. In fact, Town taxes have barely risen in the last 16 years. Right now, we are faced with the expense of helping Lyons fund their EMS staff, as well as increased costs for funding staffing and future equipment purchases of the East Troy Department. We feel we have no choice but to ask the electors in the Town to allow us to raise the tax levy to cover this expense. Per State law, this is done at a special Town meeting (following the budget hearing) and requires a majority vote by the electors. We will be looking to raise approximately $60,000 which would be allocated proportionally over the 1,897 tax parcels in the town. The only other alternative would be to cut a huge chunk from our road maintenance budget to cover this added expense. The condition of our roads is well above the state average for rural roads and it would be foolish to jeopardize them now because it would only cause problems and expense in the future that would plague us forever. We regret having to do this and trust that Town residents understand and agree.
Enjoy our beautiful Wisconsin Autumn!