The Poynette Village Board listened to applicants for the open trustee position at their regular meeting Monday, Oct. 14. The two interested individuals spoke to the board before a final decision was made.

Steve Mueller, who sat on the Village Board last year, reapplied for the position. Mueller lost his seat in April to Judainne Stronach, with trustees Jerry Burke and Douglas Avery being re-elected. Avery resigned from the position Aug. 31 due to selling his home and leaving Poynette.

Mueller has been in the village for 27 years and has been a business owner for 22 of those years. He said his goal is to “create a community that’s a sought after bedroom community for Madison.”

“Our village is going to keep getting pressure this way to develop,” he said. “In my opinion, I think we have an opportunity to create a community that’s going to be a coveted sought after place to live.”

Resident Jim Scurlock also applied for the open seat. The 72-year-old said he holds two degrees and has knowledge of government and civic duties. He said he had interest from his neighbors in having him apply for the seat and believes his leadership experience would make him a good fit for the role, although Scurlock said he didn’t believe he would get the position.

Philip Lytle also applied for the position but withdrew his application before the meeting. Mueller was unanimously approved for the trustee position.

ATV routes

The board was looking to discuss possible ATV routes in Poynette, which would allow ATVs on Highway 51. Several residents spoke during public comment about the decision, as well as a Columbia County DNR warden.

One resident who was in favor of ATV routes said this would be advantageous to the village and would allow people greater ease in moving their ATVs without having to load them in trailers to gas stations and other locations.

Jerry Meronk, resident and conservation warden for over 27 years, was also in favor of ATV trails. He said Poynette was “behind the times” compared to surrounding counties, which have ATV trails. He proposed possible hour restrictions that could go along with the trails.

DNR Warden Paul Nadolski, who has previously been a Poynette warden, spoke about his experience with ATV trails in Wisconsin. For Poynette, he did not believe it would be a good idea for the village to allow ATVs on the roads.

At the moment, there are no off road trails around Poynette, which would mean the ATVs would have to use the roads. He said ATVs are not designed to be operated on roadways, and said ATV manufacturers will tell people this as well.

Nadolski said he has been to the scene of a number of accidents on roads due to ATVs being operated on roadways. Columbia County had five fatal accidents involving ATVs on roadways between 2016-2018.

Another area of concern for him is ATV riders do not have to pass any tests to operate on roads and highways, as opposed to all other cars. Although he believes Poynette is not ready for ATV routes, he said he will be the first person to advocate for ATV routes when the county has more off road routes.

2020 budget

The board took one of their final looks at their 2020 budget before their public hearing scheduled for Nov. 11.

The board approved contributing $2,000 to the Columbia County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC). The county stopped funding CCEDC this past year and they have been reaching out to area communities and businesses to fund them for the future.

The Poynette Public Library is also recommending a 4% increase to employee salaries. The Library Board has reported their staff are underpaid compared to other comparable libraries. Village staff will have a 2.07% increase.

The library director position is proposed to stay at the 2019 rate due to the current director, Lindsey Ganz, leaving the position. She finished her time at the library last week.

The board also spoke about the upcoming sidewalk project, which would allow more kids to walk to the new elementary school next year. Some trustees questioned whether it should remain in the budget or if the project should be pushed to next year.

Trustee Chris Polzer said the safety of kids comes first. He also was concerned about putting this project on the taxpayers for a second time if it was pushed to next year. The board ultimately chose to keep the current scope of the project in the budget.

With the current budget, the village is $14,907 over their tax levy. The Village Board had to make a decision on how they planned to fund the difference.

The options included raising taxes, contributing less to the capital projects fund, cut employee costs, cut service expenses or fund the difference through the general fund balance.

Village Administrator Martin Shanks said funding it through the general fund balance would not solve the budget shortfall and would only prolong it until next year. He said the easiest options would be to get the money through raising taxes 1.47% or reducing contributions to the capital projects fund.

President Diana Kaschinske said the village is already experiencing a number of other tax increases through water and the school district. Trustee Bill Boor said the village has done virtually no tax increases since he’s been on the board and said they should be proud the village is only $14,000 short.

“Sooner or later we’re going to have to raise taxes,” Boor said. “It’s going to happen sooner or later. We’ve done a really good job about holding it.”

The board decided to lower property tax contributions to the capital projects fund. The original draft estimated a balance of around $241,000 by the end of 2020. This would now be around $226,000.

In other business, the Village Board approved the following:

  • Resolution approving the 2020 service agreement between the Village of Poynette and the Columbia County Humane Society
  • Pay application for the West Mill Street Utility and Street Improvement Project for $110,994.66
  • Pay application for Pearl, Hudson and Tomlinson Street Utility and Street Improvement Project for $45,617.89
  • Snowmobile routes in the Village of Poynette
  • Temporary Class B fermented malt beverage and wine license to the Clyde Sheppard American Legion Auxiliary for the “Debbiestrong” benefit Oct. 26
  • Resolution authorizing an amendment to the licensed premises for the Owl’s Nest

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