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Boyceville reconsiders village’s sewer agreement with Ohly

BOYCEVILLE — A month after rejecting a request by Ohly America’s to amend language in a newly proposed Sewer Usage Agreement between the company and the Village of Boyceville, the issue was back on the Village Board’s agenda at the regular October meeting Monday evening.

At its September 9th meeting, the Village Board had unanimously balked at an Ohly proposal to take the minimum monthly payments in an updated Sewer Usage Agreement from the current $15,000 per month to $25,000 per month with the stipulation that  all monthly payments would immediately cease in the case of a permanent shut down of the Boyceville plant.

In an email dated August 29 to Cindy Swanepoel and the Village Board, Ohly Americas representative Scott Sederstrom wrote, “Monthly minimum payment of $25,000. In the event of a plant shutdown for capital project activity or act of God, the minimum monthly billing would be either $15,000 per month or $825 per day of operation, whichever is greater. In the event production is permanently ceased at the factory, the remaining debt owed by Ohly Americas would be payable in full and the monthly minimum payment would cease immediately.”

The board denied the request in the September meeting largely due to concerns over the language in the final sentence of the proposal whereby all monthly payments would cease immediately should a permanent shutdown of the plant occur.

After considering it the past month, Trustee and Sewer and Water chairman Herb Dow decided that the issue be brought back before the full board to reconsider.

Dow, who initially voted against the measure last month, had an apparent change of heart and was asking the board to take another look and possibly accept the language that could then be used in a new agreement with Ohly.

“I don’t think this is such a bad thing for the village,” said Dow. “We will be receiving $25,000 minimum payments instead of $15,000 that we have been receiving for quite some time.”

Dow noted that the village stood to collect some $300,000 per year through a new agreement under these proposed terms. He also told the board that collecting expenses from a shuttered business (in the event of a permanent closure) may be a legally unattainable proposition for the Village.

“It would be hard for the Village to get any funds once a company has closed down,” said Dow.

“I know we had a motion on this last month and it was defeated but do we need to rescind it,” added Dow.

Trustee Bud Gilbertson asked if the matter should not go back into committee for further study.

Discussion on the matter, punctuated by period of silent contemplation, followed over the next 45 minutes of the meeting.

When asked by the board, Public Work Supervisor Don Rose said he had concerns noting that should the plant close permanently the expense would not suddenly end as well.

He said that Only’s usage of the village sewer system accounts for about 65 percent of the yearly load volume and even with a shut down there would be extended expenses to cover beyond a plant shut down.

“It would take approximately 230 to 240 days for what Ohly contributed to run through the system,” noted Rose. “That is several months of expenses, liabilities that are Ohly’s, that would need to be covered.”

He said that if the plant did shut down the rate at which materials progress through the system may also slow down which could extend the period of time before Ohly’s liabilities have cleared.

Rose also told the board that Ohly is the only sewer utility user that receives a refund if what they paid in is more than their expenses.

“No other user in the village receives a refund.”

Apparently, Ohly had also requested the establishment of a sludge removal fund to cover future expenses, an idea village board members felt was a good idea. But no mention of the fund could be found in the current agreement or records of recent discussions.

Village President Gib Krueger finally second Dow’s motion to reconsider and vote on the Ohly request with the stipulation that the agreement will be reviewed after one year. According to CJ Swanepoel, village clerk-treasurer the current agreement is for three years.

That prompted Trustees Brian Wolff to ask if this is only a portion of the agreement. Which its was confirmed was.

“Then if we have not even seen the whole agreement there is really nothing to vote on.”

Discussion continued until President Krueger called for a roll call vote. Swanepoel reread the motion directly from the email and then called roll. Dow, Krueger and Wolff voted in the affirmative while Gilbertson, John Hellmann, and Keith Sorensen voted against the measure.

With Jonathan Farrell’s absent, the three-all deadlock sent the proposal back to the committee.

Conditional Use Permit Approved

Amy Fern was unanimously granted a conditional use permit to operate an Adult Family Home at 454 Main Street during a special board meeting  September 12.

Concerns had been raised during a public hearing on the conditional use permit during the September 9 regular meeting so approval had been postponed until the special meeting.

Village resident Pat Seehaver, whose house is located next door to the proposed group home, had expressed concern at the original public hearing. She said that a group home would decrease her property value. She also said that it would cause emotional distress to her and her family because her adult son had died from exposure after being allowed to walk to a medical appointment in freezing weather from a group home that he had lived in.

The board acknowledged that it had read the information from John Higley answering the questions raised at the prior meeting before voting on the permit.

Police Report

Dan Wellumson, Boyceville Police Chief, reported that his department had handled 56 incidents in September.

Among the incidents were a pair of drug related issues and two burglary investigations.

When questioned about those, Wellumson told the board that one of the drug incidents was from the sale of drugs by patients at an Eau Claire methadone clinic. He said that he was working with the West Central Wisconsin Drug Task Force on the case but had nothing new to report. The other was an arrest of an individual for THC possession.

One of the burglary cases had to do with $100 that was missing from a village residence. The other involved a pair of Siberian Huskies that were taken from a home on West Street. Wellumson said an arrest warrant had been issued for a male subject relating to this matter and that the person had already surrendered to the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department. Wellumson said he had went to the jail to speak with the person but that he would not discuss the incident. The whereabouts of the two dogs is still not known.

In other business:

•Approved building permits for John Hellmann, 812 Center St. for steps and brickwork; Randy Iverson, 495 Main St. for windows; D&T Properties, LLC (Denise Jeske and Terra Engeman) for an addition to assisted living building; and Wendy Evenson, 1210 Center St. for windows, siding, and insulation.

•Approved operators licenses for Nicole Luedtke, Alexi B. Rose Gilbertson, and Katie Siebert through June 30, 2014.

•Approved a contract with Cedar Corporation to administer the village’s revolving loan fund with new parameters for inspection fees, subordinations fees, and lead-based paint services.

•Learned the village had purchased and set up new software to password encrypt payroll for the new direct deposit program.

•Learned the prices of new digital speed limit signs. The cost of a solar operated sign is $3,795 and a hard-wired unit is $2,095.

•Set the Budget Hearing meeting for Thursday, November 21. Time of the meeting is yet to be determined.

•Board went into closed session to discuss lease agreement for cell phone companies on the village’s water tower. No action was taken.