Recently our clerk Barb sent me an email with a message: “good news!”. She shared the executive summary for the village audit. She was right it is good news! At the Monday March 8th monthly meeting we received our audit report for the 2020 business year. The Village finished the year in rather good shape. Our unassigned balance of funds improved after a couple years of declines. Our utilities finished the year with water having a positive operating balance while sewer had a small loss.
I would like to thank our clerks, Barb and Carla, for their hard work in getting the audit accomplished along with their other daily tasks. The positive news is also a compliment to all our employees in doing their part to control costs. Thank you to all the employees for their service to the Village of Black Creek.
Also, we received word from Robert E. Lee and Associates regarding our community wide income survey. The village contracted with R.E.L. to gather surveys to see if we could be eligible for state and federal grants. We have many large utility, storm, and street projects to fund soon. Unfortunately, we did not receive enough responses to be eligible community wide. Luckily, we can do targeted surveys for addresses on neighborhood projects. We received enough responses from folks on South Main street to apply for grants. Thank You!
The south Main street project will cost approximately $1.25 million dollars. We should find out by May if we will receive grants. Soon I will be following up with residents to complete surveys for N. Main St. and Hwy 54. We have until May to complete targeted surveys. Any grant money we receive will keep the costs down for our taxes and sewer/water bills.
Tuesday March 9th the utility budget for 2021 was approved by the utility committee and the village board. We had hoped to replace water mains on S. Beech St. between E. Burdick and E. Forest St. this year. Unfortunately, the water utility did not have enough funding to pay for the project. This is an approximately $200k project.
On the positive side we were able to put funding in capital outlay for future projects. Several improvements will be done to our treatment plant and water utility this year. Thank you to Carla, Stacy, and Kyle for your work on the utility budget.
Here we are approaching the holidays and a new year. I have quite a bit I would like to write for this update. On December 2nd the board met to approve the adoption of new codification of our ordinances. This turned in to a six-year project. With the board’s guidance and an excellent effort from our clerk, Barb Schuh, we got it done. The ordinances are up to date as far as current state statutes.
On December 4th the village had its’ budget hearing and passed a budget. This year instead of the whole board meeting several times to complete the budget, we followed the ordinance and the finance committee completed the task of going over the budget and adjusting. When the committee started working on the budget, we were in the black only $600. By the time we were done we shaved approximately $30,000 off. I think this gives the village some good wiggle room for the year 2020. The potential savings need to be applied to our unassigned funds as those funds have been dwindling.
On November 20th we had an informational meeting for a new village hall site. We had over 33 residents attend the meeting. Thank You!
I presented information on new village hall sites. The board has been working on this for three years. The village began setting aside money for this project years ago. I hope most of the residents attending came away with the realization that our present facilities are not adequate. No one site is perfect. Unless the village has a rich uncle that leaves us a bunch of money there will be an impact on our tax bills. This is a very important decision that will impact our village for years to come.
Spring elections are on the horizon. We have three trustee positions cycling for this election. It is my hope that our present trustees file papers for the election. I’m hopeful that some folks may decide to run for these positions if any are available. I welcome anyone willing to help provide a positive present and future for the village. If you are interested in a trustee position here are some things coming soon aside from a new village hall:
- We recently applied for a Widot grant to repave and improve E. Burdick St. Total $400k total which the village needs to finance to get 70% reimbursement.
- New Wdnr phosphorous standards will cause a treatment plant rebuild/upgrade. It won’t take much to spend millions on this project.
- If we have a significant rebuild of the treatment plant, the department of public works may need to be relocated.
- Main street and State street (Hwy 54) will be repaved soon. The village may have to spend over $1 million dollars to replace sewer and water.
- To lower our tax burden on individual property owners, the village needs to address opportunities for growth. More property on the tax rolls spreads our expenses out.
- We need to explore options to improve our downtown business corridor.
- Park shelter for the Veterans Park. Need community involvement to get this project running.
- New garbage truck vs. private refuse service.
- Reassessment of village properties
Many of these issues will be worked on in the next few years. Once again, I would welcome anyone that will work cooperatively with the rest of the board to better our community.
I will repeat for you, the readers, a quote from my opening statement from the informational meeting: Before we begin, I would ask that everybody here please keep an open mind and remember we are doing something for the future of the village. We need to be looking to what the village needs for the future are. We need to set the table for the following generations that will provide leadership and growth for the Village of Black Creek.
Please attend any future meetings to learn firsthand what information the board is working with. All information from the informational meeting is shared on the village website. Go over the information and please contact me or any other board member with questions. Also, any articles (like this) I provide for the public, will be also shared on the village website.
I write this article to provide some information regarding the village board’s actions for a new village hall. The board met July 16, 2019 for a special meeting to discuss information regarding a site to choose for a new village hall. At the meeting the board went through information provided by an ad hoc committee study and our recent needs study. We also received proposals from the property sellers for sites we are considering.
The board had then decided what steps to take next. We will obtain some more information for the cost of the sites. There will be another special board meeting in August when we have that information. It is my plan to have a public hearing in September for resident comment with a vote by the board on purchasing property for the site to follow.
As there has been questions, I wanted to explain the needs study. What Steve from Blue Design Group did for us was come up with the new buildings space needs. He drew up a basic concept of what the various rooms could be like. The outline is only a footprint and an idea for the square footage needed. The actual plans for a building will not be drawn up until after the village decides what site we will use. Then the village will hire a contractor/architectural firm to draw up plans. The result could look very different from what the needs study produced.
Another topic I would like to address with this article is an important question for many residents: What’s wrong with what we have now? Black Creeks’ present facility has morphed over the years. The present office for the clerks was built in 1962. In 1990 the present police/municipal court office was built to accommodate the rescue service and ambulance. When the new fire station was built the police/court took over this part of the building. There has been a couple remodeling jobs since then.
Essentially in between the two offices we have a series of garages that house the Lions club trailer and village equipment. Having the two offices separated has many inconveniences. Most notably having employees or residents walking from one end to the other if they have business to attend to in person. Another concern is the different separate heating sources for a building that has been pieced together over the years.
Since I have been on the board the roofs of this building have leaked numerous times with thousands of dollars spent to repair. The clerk’s office and the police/municipal court areas have suffered water damage several times. The biggest problem is the roof is mostly a flat roof. The building is set right on the lot lines, so roof drainage gets iced up and water pools on the roof until it finds a place to go. Sometimes inside the building.
Recently a pump for the air conditioning units in the police office malfunctioned and the water from the units drained into the office causing damage. The village will be getting bids to have the damage assessed and repaired. Hopefully insurance will help cover the costs.
These are the type of issues I want to avoid with today’s decisions for a future village hall. It is my hope the board along with citizen input have a building that will stand the test of time and provide for our needs. I want the new building to be a source of pride for the community much as we accomplished with the Veterans Memorial and the recent upgrading of South park.
Please attend any future meetings held for a new village hall as we move forward. If you have any questions you can email me at [email protected].