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Roberts board meets to discuss purchases, billing

The Village of Roberts board meeting on Monday, Aug. 10 featured a short agenda with a lot discussion.

"Junkyard sanctioning"

Sonia Kubesh, officer-in-charge, said her department had taken inventory of the areas that have "junk in the yards." They will be sending letters to the property owners as soon as the village attorney approves the copy.

Kubesh said if an unlicensed vehicle is abandoned on public street or other public property, the village can have it removed. However, she continued, the village ordinance said that if the same vehicle is on private property, the village cannot touch it.

"We'll have to address that," said Willard Moeri, village president, "because what we're doing then is sanctioning a junkyard."

Remote camera purchase

John Bond, public works director, asked the board whether it was willing to commit to paying a fourth of the cost for a new remote camera. United Fire, Woodville and Baldwin are the other groups that would help pay for, and use, the $68,000 piece of equipment.

"Our cost of the camera would go up $2,800 as of November," Bond said.

He explained the camera would be used by United Fire for rescue missions, and the municipalities would use it for sewer lines.

"It costs about $150-$175/hour, plus the expenses for the trip, to have a company come out here with their camera," Bond said. "The closest one I know of is in Rogers, Minn."

"If we use it for two to three streets, it will pay for itself," Moeri commented.

The board approved spending $850 out of the sewer fund and $850 out of the water fund. They did point out that they would need more notice of large purchases for budgetary reasons while in this group collaboration.

Property purchase

Fire Chief Jon Vogt asked the board if they were interested in buying the house located between the Fire Hall and the new Library site on Warren Street.

The house was up for auction last month and the bank rejected the $75,000 bid. The board members discussed how they were prepared go in with the Town of Warren to offer $100,000 for the property - which they plan to use for either expanding the Fire Hall or as a parking lot.

At last month's board meeting, a resident brought up the historical value of the home, as it had belonged to one of Roberts' first doctors.

"As I said before, we're only interested in the land," Moeri said. "If someone wants the house, for $1 they can haul it off."

The board decided to have a joint meeting with the Town of Warren to finalize plans before making an offer.

New landfill tax increase

Chris Hove of Veolia Environmental, spoke to the board about the impact of Wisconsin's new solid waste landfill fees.

He said the two-tier tax increase effectively began July 1, with a $4.10/ton increase. The next tier is slated to take place Oct. 1 with an additional increase of $3/ton.

"This has nothing to do with the cost of living," Hove said. "We think it's mainly to provide the government with revenue and to also stem the flow of trash in Wisconsin."

However, he added, that would prompt some companies to haul their trash to landfills in Michigan and Illinois to get around the tax increase. This does not affect the recycling process.

"I think this will backfire," Hove commented. "I'm seeing a lot of trash being hauled out of state. We're already exploring options about shipping the trash to an Iowa landfill."

Doreen Kruschke, village clerk, said the Village of Roberts residents will see the $0.70/month increase on their October bill.

Overage billing

The board was confronted with a bill from VisuSewer for work done on the mobile home park. Last year the sewers needed lining, but they were unable to complete the T-liners until this year. However, the bill was for approximately $13,000 more than was estimated.

"I was called twice," Bond said. "They found a T-lateral that had been rotted out by roots that needed to be replaced. Then they called again with more they found, but after that, they called Angi (Goodwin, village engineer)."

Kruschke said the initial estimate was for 41 laterals and the final count was 47.

Rand Waughtal, board member, was not satisfied with the process.

"I think the person who approved the change should come and explain why there is such a difference," Waughtal said. "She shouldn't be spending our money."

"I have faith in Angi, but we weren't asking her to hold our checkbook," board member Katy Kapaun added.

Goodwin was on vacation at the time of the meeting.

Nate Stork, board member, suggested holding the $10,000 retainage until they get a detailed explanation from Goodwin. Kapaun said it wasn't fair to withhold from the company for work already done.

"This is not a final bill," Waughtal said. "We can pay the retainer when everyone is satisfied with the project outcome."

Moeri suggested having future rules in place for an agent acting on behalf of the village.

Board member Terry Dull read the original contract with VisuSewer that stated Goodwin was authorized by the village to make any changes necessary to get the job done. The board approved payment to VisuSewer.

In other news:

• St. Croix Tree Service has inventoried all the trees in Roberts Village and identified which ones need to be removed and which need work. The larger ones that need to be removed will have the homeowners consulted first.

• Kapaun said the library construction has been pushed back about two weeks due to faulty equipment when testing for geothermal heating. Groundbreaking is now scheduled for early November.

• Jim Zeller, local developer, proposed making October "Civility" Month - based on the book, "Choosing Civility." The board approved.