Local municipalities prepare for April elections, complete budgets

Last month, Wisconsin voters headed to the polls in record numbers to make their voices heard. This spring, they will have a chance to exercise their freedom and head to the polls once again.

Unlike the November elections, however, most of the spring’s ballot measures will focus primarily on local government positions.
Currently, the spring primary election is set for February 19, 2013 while the general election will be held on April 2, 2013.
In the greater Pulaski area, the municipalities of Angelica, Chase, Green Valley, Hobart, Little Suamico, Maple Grove, Oneida, Pittsfield, Pulaski and Suamico will hold elections this spring.

These types of municipal elections, which decide who will represent each community on town and village boards, are essential according to Melissa Hongisto, Suamico’s Town Clerk.

The elected officials resolve local matters, from budgeting citizens’ tax dollars to settling disciplinary issues.

“Everything starts at the ground up, so it’s very important to get a well-rounded board,” said Hongisto.

However, voting is not the only task to be completed by citizens. Chris Smith, a Pulaski Village Trustee, encourages citizens to get involved in their communities by serving on their village or town boards.

“If your desire is to be part of the political process and to be a part of the decision-making process, bring your positive attitude and your teamwork spirit to the April election,” Smith said.

The Pulaski Community School District will also be holding elections in April for Board of Education positions.
Those wishing to run for local positions, including school board positions, can start the process any time:
1. Obtain nomination papers (a campaign registration statement and a declaration of candidacy). These can be found at your local Municipal Clerk’s office or online if your Town Board has a website.
2. Get 20 signatures from people in your municipality. Once you acquire the necessary papers, you can begin circulation immediately.
3. Return all paperwork to your local Clerk’s office by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
(Individuals interested in running for the PCSD Board of Education do not need to get 20 signatures. Instead, individuals must file a campaign registration statement and a declaration of candidacy with the school district clerk. These documents can also be mailed to the district by sending the forms to: 143 W. Green Bay Street, P.O. Box 36, Pulaski, WI 54162.)
Each municipality has various positions up for reelection. They are as follows:

  • Angelica: Town Chairman, two Town Supervisors, Treasurer and Clerk
  • Chase: Chairman Gary VanLannen and Town Supervisors Dennis Kroll and Steve Gohr
  • Green Valley: Chairman Arl Rudie, Clerk Janalee Jenerou, Treasurer Traci Nygaard and Town Supervisors Gary Uelmen and Terry Tipton
  • Hobart: Village Trustees Dave Dillenburg and Donna Severson
  • Little Suamico: Town Chairman Elmer Ragen and Town Supervisors Dave Pribyl and Douglas Allen
  • Maple Grove: Town Chair, two Town Supervisors, Treasurer and Clerk
  • Oneida: Chair Person and two Town Supervisors
  • Pittsfield: Town Chairman and two Town Supervisors
  • Pulaski: Village President Reed Woodward and Village Trustees Robert Gajewski, Edward Krause and Gerald Wojkiewicz
  • Suamico: Village Trustees Ben Schenkelberg and Sky Van Rossum
  • PCSD: Board Members Trina Townsend and Barb McKeefry
  • Morgan: The Town of Morgan holds a caucus in January where residents can nominate whomever they wish for whatever position. They usually confer with the nominee ahead of time. If the nominee accepts the nomination, his or her name is placed on the ballot. Town officials currently in office are not automatic roll-overs; they also have to be nominated before being placed on the ballot.

Besides planning for upcoming elections, many area municipalities have been busy preparing their annual budgets as well.

Members of the Village of Pulaski Village Board finalized the 2013 budget on Monday, December 3. For the most part, Pulaski’s budget stayed the same from 2012, with two notable exceptions: board members approved a $30,000 economic development fund as well as the purchase of a new village hall, which will cost $46,000. (The village staff hope to move into the location during the spring of 2013.)

According to Village President Reed Woodward, the economic development funds will be used to contract with an individual or firm for economic development purposes.

The village’s budget also included $20,000 for a new shelter at Memorial Park. This money will roll over if the board does not spend it this year.

The members also put $12,000 for a new score board on the Reds Diamond at Memorial Park as the current board is rotting.
Because of these increases, the village mill rate will increase from roughly $6.80 to $7.01.

Despite the village increases, however, Pulaski residents living in Brown and Shawano counties will actually see a decrease in their tax bills. For example, in 2012, a $150,000 home in Pulaski paid $3,161.90 in taxes; in 2013, they will pay $3,128.62. (These decreases are the result of changes in state and county tax rates.)

In total, the Village of Pulaski’s tax levy will be roughly $1.32 million for 2013.

Like Pulaski, Village of Hobart Village Trustees approved their 2013 at a recent meeting as well. In 2013, Hobart’s total levy will be roughly $2.64 million, although Hobart residents will pay a mill rate of $4.17, a decrease of roughly three cents from 2012.

Members of the Little Suamico government also recently finalized the town’s 2013 budget. In total, the town will levy roughly $656,937 for a mill rate of $1.72, a decrease of nearly 20 cents from 2012 as a result of recent reevaluation in the area.

However, when comparing municipal budgets, it is important to consider the various budget items funded by each municipality.
For example, according to Hobart’s budget projections, the village will spend just over $200,000 (down from a high of more than $600,000 in 2008) on legal expenses in 2013, compared to just $38,000 the Village of Pulaski plans to spend.

Another difference in budgeting is the services offered by each respective municipality. While residents in the Village of Hobart have a lower mill rate than those who live in Pulaski, the Village of Pulaski offers some services that Hobart does not, such as residential leaf pick up, while Hobart residents must bring their leaves to a designated “dump site.” The Village of Pulaski also has many more parks than the Village of Hobart, which require more upkeep and maintenance costs.

Similarly, Maple Grove and Little Suamico residents pay a much lower mill rate than those living in Pulaski or Hobart, but neither Maple Grove nor Little Suamico has its own police departments (while Pulaski and Hobart do) and instead contract public safety services with Shawano County.

-by Laura Cortright