The Wisconsin Dells Common Council approved a $3.37 million budget 2018 on Nov. 20 that includes an increase for property taxes in Columbia, Adams and Juneau counties but a decrease for residents in Sauk County.

City Treasurer Karen Terry told the Events the decrease in Sauk County was due to an error on the part of the city’s assessor Associated Appraisal. The assessors over reported the assessments of city residents and businesses by $10 million. This year the assessments had to be adjusted to account for the incorrect information and increases made in the other counties.

The mill rate for property in each of the counties including state, county, school, adult education and city rates less state (school) credit are Sauk, $19.03 per $1,000 valuation; Columbia $21.14 per $1,000; Adams, $25.72 per $1,000 and Juneau, $21.27 per $1,000 valuation.

The budget provides for a 2 percent raise for city employees and the salary increase for the mayor and two alderpersons. In October, the council voted to raise the salary for mayor and alderpersons. The mayor’s salary and expense allocation will go from $5,000 to $10,000 annually, and the alderperson from $2,500 to $5,000.

State law provides that the raises can’t go into effect until the current officeholders’ terms expire. Mayor Brian Landers term expires in April, but he announced last week that he will not be running for reelection. He has served three terms as mayor. He told the Events he would be focusing on his career as chair of the department of criminal justice at Madison College and his consultant business teaching about police use of force.

The terms of alderpersons Brian Holzem, Dar Mor and Ed Wojnicz also expire next April. Mor has said he is not running for reelection, and the meeting Nov. 20 was attended by Terry Marshall of Marshall Well Drilling. He said he is going to run for Mor’s seat.

Alderperson Wojnicz has said he will be seeking the mayor’s post.

The alderpersons have until Dec. 22 to declare whether they will run for re-election. Any city resident over age 18 wanting to oppose the current alderpersons, seek an open seat or the mayor’s position can sign a declaration of candidacy and start circulating nomination papers on Dec. 1. A candidate must have 50 signatures of city residents to get on the ballot for mayor and 20 to run for alderperson. Information on running for election and the forms are on the city’s website, in the Election and Voting Information section.

The budget also adds two employees to the city workforce. A new officer for the police department will be hired in April and the public works department will have another employee. The new officer will bring the number of police officers to 15.

The city also has an almost $2 million budget for its revenue from the premier resort tax. Half of the funds will go to the city’s public works department which they have been doing since the city started collecting those funds and is set by city rules. Other projects paid from the premier resort tax will include renovations at the community center in the Kilbourn Public Library; $190,000 for the city’s parks and recreation department; $90,000 for the police department to include purchase of two squad cars and an software upgrade; $50,000 to the Community Development Authority’s façade improvement program; $340,000 for EMS; continued payment on the land contract for land by the Woodside fields and 0.25 percent of the funds for economic development which includes a study by MSA of putting stoplights at Eddy Street and Broadway.

The CDA has only $9,000 left in its program for façade improvements downtown. It will put up $50,000 and the city will provide another $50,000 from premier resort tax funds so the program has $100,000. All the loans under the program are current, the council was told.

Alderperson Mor said the program was a great one and it works.

The parks and recreation PRT funds will go towards renovations at Jenkins Park on River Road. Parks and Recreation Director Thad Meister said the park needs a retaining wall and new stairs construction. The money will also be used for refurbishing the city ballfields and putting in a walking path at Veterans Park.

No funds are included for the rebuilding of what has been called the stable behind the Bowman House in Bowman Park. Meister said the department hopes to fund that with a grant. Building a replacement for the stable is among his top three priorities, Meister said. The other two items on the list are a recreation center and a new pool.

In other action, the council did the following:

  • Approved an agreement with Mirus Partners for proposed workforce housing. Mirus is the same development that built the Pioneer Ridge Cottages development on Fitzgerald Road near Trapper’s Turn. Mayor Landers said the management of those apartments has been “outstanding” and the apartments are full. He said the developer has a good history and the residents of the complex are happy. The agreement supports the development in its quest for Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development tax credits. The Pioneer Ridge project, which opened in 2016, had to apply three times before it received approval of the tax credits. Landers said the Pioneer Ridge apartments filled up the fastest of any projects the developer has built and indicates the need for more workforce housing. He said the developer was looking at different site and one site may be the area off Race Street that was proposed at one time for an apartment complex for seniors.
  • Approved a survey map for Hidalgo Capital LLC, to put together its lots around the White Rose as one property.
  • Approved amending the zoning of property for GTAM, LLC, the Chula Vista Company, to change a property from single family to rental property as part of its planned unit development.
  • Recognized the high school equestrian team for winning the Division C state championship. The team in its first year has four members.
  • Recognized the high school girls’ cross-country team for its second-place win in the Division 2 WIAA state championship.
  • Approved an application for a special event permit for the Downtown Dells Committee for its Holiday Tree Lighting at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 in the 500 block of Broadway.