Aldermen fuss, approve plans to acquire vacant city properties|
|Members of the Antigo Common Council have mixed feelings on involving the city in real estate transactions in the downtown core.|
At its regular monthly session Wednesday, aldermen approved the purchase of a vacant parcel of property overhanging Spring Brook, and agreed to take ownership of a empty downtown business location, but not without dissent.
“I find it interesting that the city is getting into the real estate business,” Alderman Phil Beck said. “When the next building comes up, are we going to do the same thing?”
On a 4-4 vote, aldermen deadlocked on a resolution to take ownership of the Java Junction building, 814 Fifth Ave., from Langlade County as a tax reverted parcel.
The resolution noted that the building, which has fallen into serious disrepair, is located in the downtown business corridor and presents an opportunity for potential commercial re-use or as a walkway link between the parking lots and Fifth Avenue.
“This one seems to have some promise,” Mayor Bill Brandt said, noting that at times, the city must be willing to take a risk to move forward.
“We shouldn’t be gambling with taxpayer dollars,” Beck said. “I think we need to leave the city out of the real estate business.”
In favor of the transaction were Jim Darling, Tom Bauknecht, Glenn Bugni, and Reinhardt Balcerzak. Opposed were Beck, Joe Kapusta, Dan Bauknecht and Steve Dunn. Tim Kassis was absent.
Brandt broke the tie by voting in favor of the transfer.
A second resolution authorizing the city to purchase a vacant parcel at 615 Fifth Avenue, located directly above Spring Brook, from Leonard Boodry for $1,250, also generated discussion.
The parcel lies immediately east of city-owned property along Spring Brook and, according to the resolution, presents an opportunity for improved safety, for maintenance access to the waterway and for potential enhancements leading to public use.
Brandt said that while plans for Spring Brook and downtown revitalization are indefinite, city ownership of the parcel would be useful, remarks echoed by Balcerzak.
“We need to control what is going to happen in that area,” the alderman said. “It’s better that it be controlled by us than just to let it sit there.”
The resolution passed 6-2 with Beck and Kapusta voting no.
The remainder of the session was more docile.
On a 7-1 vote with Kapusta opposed, aldermen ratified a contract with Local 1191, AFSCME, AFL-CIO. Public works employees will receive a 1.66 percent cost-of-living increase as stipulated under the state’s Act 10 law governing union contract negotiations.
Under the new agreement, hourly wages will range from $21.53 for working foreman to $18.56 for general laborers.
Another union, Local 391, Antigo City Employees Association has decertified its membership as of Jan. 1, 2014. Workers covered by that umbrella organization will receive a 1.66 percent cost-of-living increases effective Jan. 1. That is the maximum amount allowed under the Consumer Price Index calculation provided by the Wisconsin Employee Relations Commission.
Aldermen approved an amendment to an earlier grant application for the reconstruction of Gowan Road from Spring Brook to 10th Avenue, upping the amount requested and total project cost. The city is seeking $385,000 in state funding, half the anticipated construction total.
They also agreed to a three year contract with Pyrotechnic Display for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration through 2016 and hired Frisch Greenhouses to grow, plant and maintain flowers for the planters on Fifth and Sixth avenues, the walkway, park and City Hall.
In ambulance-related matters, aldermen approved a 1.66 percent wage increase for paid-on-call emergency medical personnel at the technician and paramedic level. Paramedics will also receive an additional $5 per hour while on an interfacility transfer.
After extensive discussion led by Beck, the council approved a 6 percent increase in the resident base rate and 4.5 percent in the transfer base rate and mileage for ambulance services. Under the new matrix, the base rate for a resident will be $597.17, and nonresident, $697.87.
The department is slowly phasing out the difference between the resident and non-resident rate due to conflicts with Medicare and Beck suggested the process should be speeded up. Brandt countered that residents, including those living in townships that have ambulance agreements with the city, should continue to receive a preferential rate because they already support the service through property taxes.
In other matters, aldermen:
—purchase a new grit pump, which removes sand and debris from influent, for the wastewater treatment plant. The $23,488 cost will be derived from the plant replacement fund.
—awarded a contract for asphalt crushing, with the city retaining a portion of the materials, to Meverden Materials Inc. Meverden will get 63 percent and the city, 37 percent of the crushed asphalt.
—adopted the Langlade County all-hazards mitigation plan update, a necessary requirement to apply for grant funding for mitigation projects.
—authorized staff to turn over commercial inspections to the state due to staffing issues in the inspector/assessor’s office. The change will come at no cost to the city.
—inked a series of internal policies regarding employee injury/illness reporting and investigation.
—awarded the bids for monthly service of police squads and for gasoline and diesel fuel purchases for all departments. Marty’s Shell will be $39.95 per month for service of department vehicles and Wagner Oil will provide fuel at a rate of 8 cents off the pump price plus the Shell gas card rebate of an additional 15 cents off the pump price.
—rezoned land at 618 and 624 South Superior St. to B-3 general commercial district to allow a workshop for a building business.
—and approved a series of licenses for Jammers LLC, Antigo Resale Frontier, Kemmer Industries, Superior Hobby Coin & Precious Metals.
The Antigo Common Council approved the purchase of this parcel which hangs over Spring Brook Wednesday.
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