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Star Prairie board approves 1% levy increase

Eager to celebrate the holiday season, the Star Prairie Village Board wrapped up its December meeting in a half hour flat including a public hearing on the 2015 proposed budget.

Having called three times for comments to an empty hall, Village President Greg Gibson closed the budget hearing at 7:05 p.m. Twenty minutes later, the board unanimously approved a 2015 budget of $378,532 that includes a 2 percent employee hourly wage increase effective Jan. 1 and property tax levy of $231,512 with a mill rate of just over 0.020107817.

The budget is up more than $64,400 from last year’s, and the levy has increased just over 1 percent.

The board revised the resolution authorizing special assessments pertaining to the installation of curb and gutter and sidewalk improvements as part of the County Road M Improvement Project. It also approved a revision of the assessment notice pertaining to the same project.

Stevens engineer Angela Poppenhagen explained because construction contractor Pember Companies failed to complete the project by the Oct. 15 deadline, the timetable for residents to pay their assessments will be moved back.

“Initially residents had the option to pay their assessments by Oct. 31, 2014, to avoid having them appear on their 2015 property taxes. Because the project got delayed, the October date was no longer valid. So this changes the date. Now they have to March 31, 2015, to start to pay their assessments. If they haven’t paid by Oct. 30, 2015, then their assessment will appear on their 2016 property taxes. We are just revising the window of opportunity for people to pay their assessments without it going on their property taxes,” explained Poppenhagen.

Attorney Tim Scott updated the board on the negotiation between the village and SBA Communications Corp. regarding the ground lease for the RL monopole at Site ID # WI40451-T. SBA approved the village’s counter-offer for five terms of five years each with an increased percentage of 15 percent, 20 percent, 25 percent, 30 percent and 35 percent respectively but added a new clause to the agreement ensuring SBA has the right of first refusal.

“They are saying that you can’t use this property or any adjacent parcel that you have now or that you might acquire at some time in the future for similar use, meaning perhaps another cell tower or something similar. I don’t like this. I would like to call SBA and tell them we don’t want this paragraph 19 in this agreement at all. Let’s say new technologies are developed that permit cell towers to be located right next to each other. It could mean another nice source of income for the village. To take advantage of such an opportunity you would need their prior written consent,” explained Scott.

The board agreed to approve the revised agreement contingent on SBA removing paragraph 19.

The board set the date for the Village Caucus for Jan. 7 at 6:30 p.m.