EL village budget ready for hearing, final action

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – The village’s 2016 budget is almost ready for approval.

“The budget is pretty much where it needs to be,” Village Administrator/ Clerk/Treasurer Jessica Reilly told the Village Board Monday.

The board will take action on the proposed $4,708,408 spending plan at their Nov. 16 meeting following a public hearing on the budget.

The proposed budget decreases spending by 19 percent, but will require a 1.6 percent increase in the property tax levy to cover smaller tax incremental finance district loan proceeds.

Village President Alan Rudnick reported that sufficient funds have been raised for the restoration of the historic caboose at the depot that the project can start.

“The Elkhart Lake Historical Society is going to contract with the restoration expert,” to begin the work, Rudnick said.

“We’re going to run everything through the historical society,” Rudnick explained. “It will be a complete restoration. They’re going to start pulling the caboose apart and start doing work on it this winter. We will continue to raise money for the project.”

Trustee Michael Wolf reported that the village is working with the county Highway Department to get cost estimates for a pedestrian pathway on County J/Gottfried Street from Carriage House Lane to connect with the existing sidewalk downtown.

“They’re looking at a wider shoulder,” along the county road, Rudnick explained. There is insufficient right-of-way to put in a separate path or sidewalk, he said.

Because of utility easement issues, it will not be possible to continue the pathway north to County JP/Birchwood Drive, Rudnick added.

He said any final plan would have to be cleared with Historic Race Circuits of Elkhart Lake, as Gottfried Street is part of the landmarked race circuit.

“We won’t be doing anything until spring,” Rudnick added.

The village will also wait until spring to see how well oil spilled on the Lake Street walkway cleans up, Wolf reported.

“The oil is cleaned up to probably about 25 percent left,” Wolf said.

Reilly told the board’s Public Works Committee that the 2016 water budget will include a larger outlay to begin replacing water meters in Point Elkhart.

Point Elkhart requested new meters to match larger water service to the condominiums. Reilly pointed out that the cost of the meters – which are owned by the village - must be borne by the village under Public Service Commission rules.

The village will continue to plow the alley off Lincoln Street next to Wisconsin Bank and Trust this winter, Reilly told the board.

The village has agreed to vacate the alley and turn it over to the bank, but that process will take at least three months, she explained. That means it will remain village property through the winter.

Rudnick noted that the Village Board and Rhine Town Board went through a table top emergency exercise last month in conjunction with emergency management personnel.

“We learned a lot from that and there are some things we’re starting to implement,” he said.

After several trustees confessed they were unclear beforehand how much time the exercise would involve, Rudnick said clearer communications with participants would be goal of any future exercises. “We’re probably going to do it again next year,” he told the board.

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