Officers recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty

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In front of New Richmond City Council members and staff Monday, July 10, Police Chief Craig Yehlik recognized three of his officers for going above and beyond the call of duty in responding to a potentially life threatening domestic disturbance June 12.

Chief Yehlik presented each officer with a letter of commendation, which read in part, "I want to commend all of you for your heroic efforts on this date to insure a mother and her children were safe. I also want to commend you for your restraint in your use of force when all other tactics had failed to gain voluntary compliance from this suspect. Even as the suspect continued to threaten you with death you were all calm and acted appropriately within the scope of State Law and Department Policy."

On Monday, June 12, Sgt. Nick Cramlet, Officer Jarred McLain and Officer Katerina Radtke all responded to a call in which a suspect was threatening a mother and her two children. Cramlet was first on the scene and first to put himself in harm's way to protect the victims. McLain and his partner were able to resolve a felony warrant at another location expeditiously freeing McLain to assist Cramlet. Radtke, having just arrived at the police station though not yet on duty, also immediately responded to the call. All three officers were able to work together to evaluate information on the scene, calmly communicate their arrest decision to the suspect and employ an appropriate amount of force to restrain the suspect once he failed to comply voluntarily, all while keeping the mother and her children safe.

City audit

Certified Public Accountant Kim Shult of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, walked council members through the highlights of the 2016 City Audit Report. Shult began by acknowledging the health of the City's General Fund balance, which stood at just over $1.8 million in 2016. She noted that just over $1.5 million was classified as "unassigned" funds which can be spent without restriction. The ratio of operating revenues to available fund balance for 2016 was 32 percent, which translates into 3.8 months of reserves available to the city. The Government Finance Officers Association recommends a minimum of two months reserves.

Shult went on to explain that the city was using 60 percent of its general obligation debt capacity in 2016. Bond rating agencies recommend leaving 30 percent of a municipality's capacity for emergencies and unexpected needs.

"Bottom line, your General Fund balance remains very strong. That's been very consistent capable of providing you with additional resources if you should need them in the future. Your debt capacity has been stable. Your revenues and expenses, outside of the capital outlay you've had, has also been very consistent," concluded Shult.

The complete 2016 Audit Report is available on the city's website at: newrichmondwi.gov.

Closing a loophole

Council members unanimously approved the Dark Store Resolution presented by Alderman Scottie Ard, which supports state level legislation to close a loophole in Wisconsin case law and the Department of Revenue's Wisconsin Property Assessment Manual, which allows occupied commercial property to be taxed as empty or dark store property.

The legislation is designed to prevent large retail chains from using vacant properties as comparable properties for determining the value of open, new operating stores, thereby cutting property tax assessments for those stores and transferring that tax burden to homeowners and other taxpayers.

Other business

• Council members unanimously approved a preliminary design contract with SEH for the 125th Street project worth $16,314. Following a public hearing and further discussion with the Town of Richmond, a final design contract and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be presented to the council for final approval.

• Council members approved not-to-exceed contracts of $18,160 for Community Collaboration and $62,100 for HKGi to provide consulting services pertaining to the mandatory 10-year review of the city's comprehensive plan.

• Council members approved Ordinance #495 — Noxious Weeds, which restores a provision accommodating a natural lawn permit process. Residents wishing to grow a natural lawn will be required to apply annually. Members also approved an amended fee schedule for mowing of unattended properties. Offenders will be charged $100 per hour ($100 minimum) per parcel for a first time offense, $200 per hour ($200 minimum) per parcel for a second offense and $300 per hour ($300 minimum) per parcel for a third offense.

• City Finance Director Rae Ann Ailts informed council members that the city's 2017 1st Quarter Financial Report contained an unforeseen expenditure due to a palpable assessment error. The assessment error resulted in an unbudgeted expense of $132,280. The city expects approval of the chargeback in October/November 2017 with full reimbursement of the expense occurring no later than February 2018.