107.5FM WCCN The Rock - The Coolest Station in the Nation
Memories 1370AM 98.5FM
98.7FM / 1450AM WDLB - Timeless Classics
Listen Live: 107.5 THE ROCK92.7 FM
Family owned radio stations serving all of Central Wisconsin

Neillsville City Council Approves 2022 Budget

Friday, November 12th, 2021 -- 10:00 AM

The Neillsville City Council approved the 2022 City Budget.

The City of Neillsville will have a Net Levy of $1,352,647 with a mil rate of $9.77 per one hundred thousand dollars of property value. City Clerk Rex Roehl reported that the proposed 2022 General Fund Budget of $3,521,685 is lower than the Consumer Price Index, which is 3.0%, and lower than the Wisconsin Department of Revenue Expenditure Restraint Program guidelines, which is 3.1%.

The proposed 2021 tax levy of $1,287,980, without Tax Incremental Districts, exceeds the State’s levy limit requirement of 0% plus net new construction, 0.093% or $1,000, of $1,000.

However, the Finance Committee has recommended approving a levy limit adjustment increase of $220,561 for Debt Service Levy for general obligation debt authorized after July 1st of 2005. This would bring the City into compliance with the allowable levy limit for the City.

Council Member John Perrine stated that he is proposing a change to the 2022 City Budget for the City Attorney’s Salary to her proposal of $30,300. Council Member Julie Counsell stated that City Attorney Bonnie Wachsmuth is not taking into consideration that, as an employee, she gets retirement and social security, which she doesn’t get anywhere else.

Based on the payroll numbers, received from the City Clerk, Wachsmuth’s total compensation was $153 per hour in 2020, $159 per hour estimated in 2021, and $153 per hour proposed in 2022.

Counsell stated looking at other communities with somewhat similar situations, they have outside attorneys who serve them and they do not get benefits. Wachsmuth is getting $150+ per hour with employee benefits.

City Attorney Wachsmuth stated as a Court Commissioner she receives $100 per hour, but she does not have the office expense. They provide a clerk and supplies, so she is paid less. It is not an apple-to-apple comparison.

Other private attorneys are not paid less and the City will end up paying more. As an employer, the City doesn’t pay the Director of Public Works less because he gets retirement.

Mayor Diane Murphy stated the City Attorney contacted Nekoosa and Mondovi, communities of similar size and they are paid more. Council Member Counsell stated the big difference is, as an employee, the City’s insurance will get hit and not her malpractice insurance.

City Attorney Wachsmuth stated her malpractice insurance could be hit. Council Member Counsell stated when taking compensation, you look at the whole package including health, dental, retirement.

City Attorney Wachsmuth stated she does not get the full amount of her salary as deductions are taken out. Council Member Counsell stated that is the difference between an employee and a contractor.

Resident Jon Counsell stated that there is distinction between employees and contractors. Being an employee, they can’t sue her, they sue the City and the City can’t sue her. He asked for further clarification on the malpractice insurance matter. Another resident thanked Council Member Counsell for bringing this matter forward and she appreciates her checking things out.

Council Member Perrine motioned to change the 2022 City Budget for the City Attorney’s Salary to $30,300. Council Member Joe Neville asked if they are going to change all City employees up to a 9% increase. Are we setting a precedence? The Chief of Police is underpaid too.

Council Member Perrine stated this is done on an individual basis. In the end, the Council approved the change with three voting yes and two voting no. The Council also approved the Levy Limit adjustment for Debt Service Levy for general obligation debt authorized after July 1st of 2005 with the amount being $220,561.

The Council then approved to adopt the 2022 City Budget of $3,521,685 with $1,352,647 to be placed on the 2021 Tax Roll. Mayor Murphy thanked the Common Council Members and City Clerk-Treasurer for all their work through the budget process.

City Clerk Roehl also presented a 2021 Budget Amendment Transfer Request to transfer from Health Insurance ($52,000), savings because of Police Officers vacancies, to Police Department Administration (+$9,500), uniforms and equipment, Police Auto (+$16,500), a vehicle, Fire Department Administration (+$21,400), clothing and equipment, and Public Safety-Fire Department-Vehicles (+$4,600), new fire truck fund. This is a one-time opportunity to adjust these funds without impacting either the 2021 or 2022 budget negatively.

The Board was also presented two proposals for Dental Insurance. The Humana proposal would amount to $23,699.88 per year. The Delta Dental proposal would amount to $17,899.92 per year. The Council approved the 2022 Dental Insurance contract with Delta Dental as presented.

Mayor Murphy presented a request from the CART Center to hang a banner on the Gazebo forthe “Ugly Sweater Fun Walk” on Saturday December 4th. The banner would be hung from November 10th through December 4th.

City Clerk Roehl reported that the telephones remain a challenge. Their IT people have been working with TDS and Fortinet representatives to resolve the issues and have done all their troubleshoot requests without resolution.

They are hoping when the Police Department upgraded router is installed it fixes the problems. However, the upgrade of the Police Department router cannot be done until the old City Hall server is decommissioned and network removed.

They are close, as Phase 4 has been completed. Phase 5 is the testing time to ensure the entire City network continues to function properly. Chief of Police Jim Mankowski stated the Police Department telephones were shut off with the move. The first week was a fast busy signal.

If you select #1 on the voice mail it goes to the Clark County Sheriff’s Department. They can’t answer the telephones live and messages are very choppy. With outgoing calls, it shows as being called from the City Clerk’s number. The Police Department has been using their cell phone. The internet and fax are also down.

Chief of Police Mankowski also reported on attending Leading Police Organization and Trauma-Informed Leadership training, personnel openings (two full-time and two part-time police officers), the Police and Fire Commission selecting three applicants for full-time and one applicant for part-time background checks, speaking on the officer’s use of force at an Optimist Club meeting, Office Imm receiving a commendation from Sheriff Scott Haines in response to an incident at the Neillsville School and October citations, complaints, business checks and activity news.

City Attorney Wachsmuth reported on the November 6th meeting of the Police and Fire Commission regarding a closed session to interview applicants for full-time and other part-time police officer positions.

Finally, Council Member Clough reported on the November 9th meeting of the Commission on Public Works/Utilities regarding current activities.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.