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W’bago citizens upset

By Staff | Jun 17, 2012

Several Winnebago residents came to the council armed with complaints about how the city has been spending their money.

The citizens attended the June 12 Winnebago City Council meeting to share their viewpoints on various projects taking place and how the spending was affecting them as taxpayers.

Roger Hanson came to the meeting with issues that had been brought to his attention by other people in town.

The first issue Hanson brought forth for discussion was the money the city spent to replace the street sweeper, squad car for the police department, dump truck, ambulance and other similar purchases.

“I have been approached by several people about these expenditures,”?he says.

He fears it is going to affect the taxpayers.

Robert Weerts expressed similar thoughts, specifically with the project on First Avenue.

Weerts felt it was unnecessary for him to pay to stub in to the sewer and water on his lot.

The estimated cost of assessment for the water and sewer portion would be $3,278 and the street portion $3,804, for a total assessment figure of $7,082.

Jim Ness agreed with Weerts and suggested the city consider putting the stubs in but deferring assessment.

City Administrator Austin Bleess informed the council that after researching this, deferment isn’t an option in this situation.

The concept had been previously discussed by the utility committee who had found it more sensible to go ahead with stubbing the properties in while the project on First Avenue is still in progress. “It’s a looking forward type of situation,”?Bleess says. “If anyone should build on the properties in the future, this way will be more cost efficient.”

Weerts suggested that utilities should be worried about when they are needed as he didn’t plan to build on the lot in question.

“What you’re asking is for your benefit, not the benefit of the city,”?council member Chris Ziegler says.

Council member Rick Johnson moved that the lots in question are to be stubbed with water and sewer as planned. The motion passed with a three to one vote.

“If we don’t move ahead we’re just going to end up right back in the same place,”?council member Scott Robertson adds. “Time is of the essence here.”

Hanson also was concerned with a decision made by council at the previous meeting in regards to JM?Manufacturing.

It was decided at the May council meeting that JM Manufacturing’s water bill would not be forgiven.

Hanson felt that the plant has been a big part of our community and didn’t deserve to pay for an unintentional water leak.

The council explained that they have never forgiven a water bill and did make an arrangement if the plant would reopen.

“That is unrealistic.”?Hanson says. “He (the owner of JM?Management) has done a lot for this community and there is a first for everything. Couldn’t you at least cut the bill in half?”

Robertson reiterated that JM?Manufacturing drained the water tower and if the plant was reopened and met certain criteria set forth by the council, the amount of the bill would be credited to future water bills.

In other business;

Bleess received his annual review by the council. Bleess has been with the City of Winnebago for two years now.

“Austin is very responsive to the things that need to get done,”?Ziegler says.

Other council members agreed saying they were quite happy with Bleess’ performance over the last two years and are impressed with his skills and dedication to the city.

“I’m looking forward to the next year to come,”?Bleess adds.

With the resignation of the current public works assistant Brennan Johnson, the council agreed to begin advertising for a replacement.

The council will begin advertising for this position right away.

Council also agreed to begin the process of advertising for the hiring of more part-time police officers. The department currently only has two officers that are able to pick up shifts.