Photo by Scott Girard.
In neighborhoods like this one on Jackson Street, ash trees line the road. Now that the emerald ash borer (below) has been confirmed in Dane County, Stoughton will have to decide on a tree-by-tree basis whether to inoculate trees (lowest) or wait for them to die.
Photo courtesy University of Georgia.
Photo courtesy City of Fitchburg.
Stoughton officials were not surprised when a case of emerald ash borer (EAB) was confirmed in Madison’s Warner Park last week, and said it’s likely in Stoughton as well.
As with many local municipalities, ash trees are prevalent on both public and private land, with 12 percent of Stoughton’s publicly-owned trees being ash, or a total of 642 trees, streets superintendent Karl Manthe said.
While the Madison case is the first confirmed in the county, Manthe said he would be surprised if EAB, an invasive beetle native to East Asia that kills ash trees by eating the tissues under the bark, wasn’t in Stoughton.
“I’m almost sure we probably have it in Stoughton. It probably hasn’t been found yet,” Manthe said, adding that it’s generally found near interstates or major highways. “It’s kind of hard (to believe) the bug would bypass Stoughton.”
Dane County taxpayers will see about a 3.3 percent hike in the county tax rate on their annual bills due to an increase in the county’s 2014 budget.
County Executive Joe Parisi’s $560 million 2014 budget was approved and signed earlier this month with little objection by county supervisors.
The $509 million operating budget was approved 34-1 with the only no vote by Sup. Kurt Schlict of Cross Plains. The $51 million capital budget was approved 32-3. The county tax levy was unanimously approved at $3.11 per $1,000 in assessed value, an increase from last year’s rate of $3.01.
Stoughton had no specific initiatives included in this year’s budget, but will benefit from about $16,000 in county meal funding for seniors that will make up for lost federal funds. The 2014 budget also increases funds for county park upkeep and maintenance.
Politicians may soon knock on your door looking for signatures to get their name on the spring election ballot.
Nomination papers for the spring election go out Dec. 1, and several alders, school board members and the mayor are up for reelection next year.
Stoughton Mayor Donna Olson is up for another 4-year term. Alders Tim Swadley (D-1), Paul Lawrence (D-2), Greg Jenson (D-3) and Tom Selsor (D-4) seats are set to expire, as well. Recently appointed alder Ross Urven’s seat will be up for a 2-year term.
On the Stoughton Area School District Board of Education, president Liz Menzer’s term ends, along with members Brett Schumacher and Bev Fergus.
No elections are scheduled for the Town of Dunkirk, as the town holds elections in odd-numbered years.
Town of Pleasant Springs supervisors Jay Damkoehler and Janiece Bolender are up for reelection.
Twenty-four Town of Dunn residents attended the public budget meeting last Tuesday night, where the proposed tax levy was approved.
The levy is a 2 percent raise from last year, and the town’s portion of the mill rate will be $2.64. The owner of a $250,000 home will pay $660 for the town’s portion of their property tax.
Tax bills must be sent out by Dec. 16, and town clerk Cathy Hasslinger said tax information would also be available to residents around that time on accessdane.co.dane.wi.us.
Residents can expect to receive an insert with their bill that details tax collection times and information along with information on dog licensing.
The first installment will be due by the end of January.
A man who killed his girlfriend and then himself in the Town of Oregon last Thursday was a longtime Stoughton resident until recently.
Henry Pullett, Jr., 68, last lived in Madison, according to the Dane County Coroner’s office release of his name, but had lived in Stoughton at least as recently as 2008, according to court records.
Pullett shot his 64-year-old girlfriend Elizabeth Singler, also of Madison, at his former lawyer’s office and home at 1519 Storytown Road in the Town of Oregon last Thursday afternoon following a long, heated conversation. He then shot and killed himself.
Pullett had served two years in an Illinois prison in the mid-1990s after being extradited from Wisconsin for a string of burglaries he committed in the 1960s, including one in which he testified against an accomplice who killed a man during the robbery, according to stories in the Chicago Tribune.
The Common Council and city officials are considering the next steps in reorganizing city staff after the council last week narrowly rejected Mayor Donna Olson’s proposal to consolidate the clerk and finance offices to form a new department.
The council’s decision to skip that part of the plan while creating a human resources department and position frustrated Olson, left at least one alder regretting his vote and caused another to threaten to resign his seat.
But with the Personnel Committee left to work out the details and bring back a new plan to the council, committee member Tricia Suess (Dist. 3) has come up with a plan she thinks will be a good compromise. Her idea and any other ideas for fitting the new roles into the budget that was approved – including possible reconsideration of last week’s vote – will be discussed at a special Personnel Committee meeting scheduled for this Thursday.
With the Common Council’s 8-4 decision last week to change the zoning on about 35 acres in Kettle Park West, city officials will continue working on a development agreement.
After more than three years of working with Forward Development Group, both parties can now get more serious about negotiations. The approval means the city is essentially obligated to accept certain types of development on the land which sits on the northwest corner of the Hwys. 51-138. That could include large retail stores.
But while eight alders voted for the plan to go forward, it has faced scrutiny from several alders and residents who wanted to hold up the general development plan until the developer agreed to reveal the identity of the so-called “big box” retailer FDG has been working with on the project.
That “lack of transparency” was the reason Alds. Tim Swadley (Dist. 1), Michael Engelberger (D-2), Tom Majewski (D-3) and
Several area townships will decide their 2014 budgets during meetings next week, and residents are invited to weigh in during the preceding public hearings, that annual autumn rite of local government.
Town of Dunn
Town of Dunn residents would see a slight increase in their mill rate if the 2014 budget proposal goes through as is.
The town’s portion of the mill rate would see a five cent increase, up to $2.64 per $1,000 of value. For a $200,000 home, the property owner would pay $528 for the town’s share of the tax bill.
The overall budget would increase by $5,000, mostly due to public safety and public works budget increases.
The town’s capital projects include $250,000 for road repairs, up from previous years but still below the target of around $320,000, which is the estimated cost to repair two miles of road, according to the town newsletter budget summary.
Over strong objections from several alders Tuesday, the Common Council approved a rezoning petition for about 35 acres of Kettle Park West.
After about an hour of debate, the council approved Forward Development Group’s plan to rezone the commercial part of the development at Hwys. 51 and 138 on an 8-4 vote.
Voting in favor of the rezone were Eric Hohol, Ron Christianson, Greg Jenson, Tricia Suess, Sonny Swangstu, Ross Urven, Paul Lawrence and Tom Selsor.
Alders Tim Swadley, Mike Engelberger, Tom Majewski and David Kneebone opposed the change.
Supporters of the rezone included Mayor Donna Olson and the rest of the city’s leadership team, who argued that developing the 275-acre parcel would ultimately bring more jobs and residents to Stoughton.
The Common Council will debate at next week’s meeting whether to adopt Mayor Donna Olson’s proposal to create two new departments in City Hall next year.
Olson’s plan calls for establishing a new Human Resources department, as well as eliminating the department led by the city clerk and placing the clerk under a new finance administrative services department, led by finance director Laurie Sullivan.
The changes reflect recommendations included in consultant Baker Tilly’s study done earlier this year of the city’s operations and staffing. But not every member of the Common Council supports the changes.
In interviews with five alders, the Hub learned that two support the proposed changes, two oppose them and one supports some of the mayor’s recommendations but has doubts about others.