December 2023

Public Hearing on the Budget for 2024 and Common Council

City of Gillett

Public Hearing on the Budget for 2024

On December 7, 2023, I attended the Public Hearing on the 2024 Annual Budget for the City of Gillett and the Common Council Meeting. To inform our business leaders and citizens, we will make an effort to make sure that someone from the Chamber is in attendance at each meeting and will offer a brief report on what was decided in the discussions and information shared on upcoming plans.

The 2024 Budget discussed at the Public Hearing has been available for review at the Gillett Public Library. The proposed budget for 2024 is $1,866,038.00. This is an increase of $55,020 from 2023. The budget consisted of many cuts because of the city's obligation to repay $230,000 for TID2, which failed to perform and did not produce the necessary tax revenue to meet the requirements of the TID. This is 12% of the current budget and is causing some deep cuts in some of our city services. The two most affected department cuts can be found within the Police Department and Fire Department, with 50% cuts in proposed equipment and supplies and vehicle maintenance for the Fire Department. This is a 3% decrease from last year's budget. While the Police Department, for the most part, was unchanged, this follows a significant cut that was made to the Police Department in the budget year 2023, which was from 2022 actual wages paid of $231,130.94 to a budgeted wage for the department of $179,933 in 2023. The Fire Department did receive a much-needed truck, and they were able to sell the old unit for only $2000 less than what they paid for it 20 years ago. The funds for the new Fire Truck came out of ARCityunds that remained with the City. The Fire Department vehicle maintenance for 2023 was less than budgeted at $12,158.53 and has been budgeted at $8000 for the budget year 2024; Fire Dept. equipment and supplies were also less than budgeted for 2023 at actual expenditures of $10,753.37 and for the budget year 2024 is $8000. No money was budgeted for Fire Dept. liability insurance which for 2022 and 2023 was $8,581.29 and $8,094.44, respectively. In 2024, the Recycling Center will not be open for public use, but they will have a Spring Cleanup opportunity on May 4, 2024, in which all things may be brought for Recycling. Clerk/Treasurer wages increased in the budget year 2024 from $49,232 the budget year 2023 to $53,040, Police Wages were raised in the budget year 2024 from $179,933 in the budget year 2023 to $190,000, and Public Works Wages increased from $93,000 in the budget year 2023 to $140,000 (a point to note is that actual wages paid in 2022 and 2023 were $111,574.92 and $128,474.18 respectively). The City of Gillett has been able to cut internet costs from what had been budgeted, which is a significant savings to the budget.

For the 2024 budget, the increase will mean that there will be a $5/mil increase in each resident in the City of Gillett. This will be an increase of $750 in the property taxes for a property that is valued at $150,000 tax year 2024. I did ask the City if there were plans in place to ensure that no other TID would fail to perform and was informed that TID3 and the newly formed TID4 are positioned to perform well. TID3 is performing well currently, and TID4 is newly formed but includes Dollar General and should perform well in the future too. The greater issue that is making it difficult for the City of Gillett to grow is the lack of available land surrounding us, and they are seeking any insight into how we can work together to resolve that issue.

December 2023 Common Council Meeting

A new Alderperson has been appointed to fill the term for the Ward 1 position that had been recently vacated by the newly elected Alderperson Jason Ketchum. The vacated seat of Alderperson Marie Blaser will be on the ballot in 2024 and remains vacant. I will have to report the name since I do not see any records of her appointment within the Common Council Meeting Minutes, and her name is not listed on the Agenda for December's meeting. Alderperson Jon Gildemeister was absent. There was little public input at the beginning of the meeting. Ayres and Associates reported on the Washington Street project, which has been mostly completed aside from some of the things they will do in Spring to restore and plant greenery that was too late to plant in the Fall at the conclusion of the project, but the roadway is now open. Before and after pictures were shared, and an explanation of the new storm sewer that has been put into place in lieu of culverts and ditches, which had been there previously. The road has been built to withstand trucks and heavier traffic, as well as the new bridge, which, because of its size and how it is built, does not require guardrails. The project was over a $2 million project and has beautified that area and has prepared the city with an alternative route for 2025-26 when the Hwy 22 Project is slated to begin.

The Library is busy and has a lot of great programs, as well as the MAPs(Museum and Attractions) Program, which has passes that can be checked out for the Children's Museum and, eventually, the Neville and the National Railroad Museum. The Summer Reading Program is already being planned, as well as various library programs for the community. The County Library Board is still meeting to discuss options for the libraries in Oconto County. Police Chief Breitenbach was excused from the meeting but reported that we will be losing an officer in the New Year as she has taken a position in New London, so they are looking for more officers, but both part-time officers are being considered for the position. Training continues with an officer recently attending a Detectives training course. Fire Chief Hicks was not in attendance, but the Assistant Fire Chief was there to report to the Department. They are still in need of volunteers, with 19 on the roster at this time. A full roster is 25.

I updated the City on our membership with the Chamber and the programs coming in 2024. I did request to know more about how the Gillett Area Chamber and the City would proceed with funding and membership. Action was taken on the Tourism and Marketing Commission, in which Alderperson Jerry Luther and I were appointed to the Tourism and Marketing Commission.

One area that was brought up by Utilities Director Ron Anderson when discussing the Parks is the lack of movement by the Parks and Cemetery Committee about the new playground equipment proposal, which he and members of the staff have been working to get support in the community. It was reported that there were few meetings held with the committee, and this is a project that will benefit the community as a whole and bring people to use our park and visit our City. He desires to see more of the community involved. It was discussed to create a subcommittee for this project. No action was taken by the Council on this issue.

The Budget was discussed and passed with some services changing. The City of Gillett will have a new Law Firm representing the City in 2024, and the accounting firm is being changed because of a significant increase in rate. The new firm will be the same as the current rate with no raises in the foreseeable future, but the level of support that is currently there is promised to be given by them. So, it was voted on to make these changes.

Aside from the 2024 Budget, there was nothing of great significance that was presented in the meeting. If anyone would like to run for any of the upcoming vacancies - Wards 1, 2, and 3, have a seat open for a run as well as the Mayor's office. Forms are due by January 2, and more information may be obtained at the City Clerk's Office.