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Friday, November 30, 2007

SubPrime Freeze Coming?

Click on the post for the latest from Yahoo.

Historic Reflection

Eager Building Door Has Arrived

The Lights Have Arrived

Minutes; Economic Development: November 2007

City of Evansville
Economic Development Committee

Regular Meeting
Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 5:30 pm
City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, Wisconsin


I. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order at 5:30 pm by Chair Tony Wyse. Present: Tony Wyse, Matthias James, Roger Berg, Dave Olsen, Gene Bass, and Fred Juergens. Absent: Julie Meredith and James Otterstein. Also present: Mayor Sandy Decker, Dan Wietecha, and Bridgit Larsen.

II. Approve Agenda. Juergens moved, seconded by James, to approve the agenda. Motion approved unanimously.

III. Approve Minutes of October 16, 2007 Meeting. Minutes unavailable; tabled.

IV. Citizen Appearances. None.

V. Chamber of Commerce Report. Larsen reported a delegation from the Chamber had met with Senator Erpenbach and Secretary Nilsestuen; the Chamber hosted an open house at the new Health Club; and the Chamber supported the radio commercials, the horse-drawn carriage rides, and Santa visit during the Main Street ribbon cutting weekend.

The Chamber is working on a Community Business Directory, which will be available for all local businesses to list and/or advertise. It can serve as the “Welcome to Evansville” brochure for visitors and locals. Similar directories have been well received in neighboring communities. Decker distributed an expenditures ledger for the Committee; there is $5400 remaining in the budget. It was noted that some expenses for the Summit may be incurred prior to the end of the year. The Committee discussed a financial contribution to the Business Directory in order to reduce the advertisement costs for businesses. Juergens made a motion, seconded by Olsen, to authorize a $4500 contribution to offset expenses of the Community Business Directory.

VI. City Administrator Report. None.

VII. Update on Biodiesel Plant. Wietecha indicated that Mike Robinson and John Sheehy attended the December 13 Common Council meeting and gave an update on the status of North Prairie. Due to current market conditions, their board of directors voted to suspend construction to protect their investors’ equity until soy oil prices stabilize. All intentions are for the suspension to be temporary.

Berg suggested the Committee work with the Chamber to host a delegation to meet with state and federal officials about Evansville business interests in general and about biofuels in particular. In anticipation of the Economic Development Summit producing some specific strategies and objectives, the Committee agreed that any such meetings should wait until after the Summit.

VIII. Discussion on City Website. Juergens asked about any ideas to promote economic development on the website; Wietecha noted that the upcoming Summit will soon be featured on the website. The Committee also discussed future possible uses for the webcam.

IX. Update on Downtown Task Force. It was generally agreed that the project went well overall and having the Task Force really helped. Decker noted that there will be a similar Task Force continuing with the Madison Street project next year.

The ribbon cutting ceremony went well. The weather Saturday did not cooperate, but the activities drew some crowds downtown Friday evening and Saturday morning. Olsen indicated that Baker Manufacturing would cover the expenses for the refreshments at the ribbon cutting; thank you.

X. Update on Economic Development Summit. Decker indicated that Ken Hendricks of ABC Supply has agreed to keynote the Summit. The Small Business Center at UW-Whitewater will be conducting a brief phone survey to gather information to help with the Summit. Invitations will be mailed to all businesses in early December; the Summit is on January 12.

XI. Discussion on Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). Wyse said Nicole Hamby (accountant), John Decker (attorney), Roger Berg (Committee member), and James Otterstein (Rock County) are all willing to serve on the Loan Review Board. A banker is still needed; Brendon Wilkinson of First Community Bank was suggested. Wietecha will distribute copies of the approved RLF policy to members of the Loan Review Board.

XII. Discussion on Room Tax. The Committee asked Wietecha to research the legal requirements and examples of rates charged in other cities for a future meeting.

XIII. Adjournment. Bass moved, seconded by Juergens, to adjourn. Motion approved unanimously at 7:10 pm.

Mailbag: Karen Aikman Writes: RE: Minutes: Economic Development November 2007

Karen Aikman has left a new comment on your post "Minutes; Economic Development: November 2007":

Within these minutes for November, the motion to grant our Chamber of Commerce such a generous sum of $4, 500 surprised me. Not that the Chamber isn’t worthy, but so are a number of other organizations that serve to make our community a desirable location for business. Not to mention the big question mark that hangs over TIF#6, which makes the payback of some $5,000, that was presumably requested of TIF funds by this committee, to contribute to the Market Research Study, a more responsible use of their remaining budget, to my way of thinking.

Of course privately I began to make fun of this, but guilt over my lack of information got the better of me and I decided to educate myself on what lead up to this decision. I decided to review all of the minutes for the calendar year 2007 for this committee, in an effort to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, while $4,500 or 83% of $5,400 seems like an awful lot, perhaps the percentage of their actual budget would make it more reasonable for me.

What I found confuses me and I submit this to the readers of this blog to correct or expound on the information presented in the minutes of the Economic Development Committee from January until November of 2007.

Within the published minutes for 2007 I found:

A. In January they authorize the production of 6 CD’s of the Smart Growth plan to be sent to 5 employers. They don’t offer a cost of this.
B. In Feb. Ald. Juergens identifies that $1,000 of a budget of $1,500 had been spent on the website. Since it is a new year, and money unspent from 2006 should have gone back into general fund, it is unclear if this is from the 2007 budget.
C. In May, they motion to hire Whalen and Associates, but without specifying a fee. This appears to be for something other than the Market Research that was mentioned in the January minutes.
D. In July they motion to pay the School Ag depart to water flowers and to presumably pay for Jeff (Vrstal) to spruce up an Evansville sign by the Pig. These costs are not identified.
E. In August Ald. Juergens motioned to spend $300 for lunches;$1,000 for the summit; and $400 for a speaker. Totaling $1,700.
F. In Nov. They authorize $4,500 to go toward a Chamber project for a Business directory.

6 cd’s…………….....$?
Website……………..$1,000 ( or $1,500)
Whalen et al……..….$?
Watering & signage...$?
Total $7,200 (possibly $7,700)

One problem that arises for me is the conflicting information on the budget for this committee. In the July minutes we learn the yearly budget for 2007 is $5,150.

“Review 2007 committee budget and discuss any changes to the 2008 budget. A proposal was made to increase the budget from $5150 to $5300 to the Economic Development Committee and to keep the $1000 support for the E.C.P. with $6300 as a total. Fed Juergens moved on this request and David Olsen seconded. Motion approved.”

Yet in these November minutes we find a balance remaining of $5,400:

“Decker distributed an expenditures ledger for the Committee; there is $5400 remaining in the budget. It was noted that some expenses for the Summit may be incurred prior to the end of the year.”

So here I am stumped on how to wrap this post up. With so many holes in the minutes, it would be irresponsible to draw many conclusions. But there are questions:

How did the budget go from being $5150 for the year to a remaining balance of $5400?

What happened to the Market Research Study? Where did it go for authorization?
From where did the funding come? Did we get the CDBG for the study and at what amount?

Who paid for Whalen and Associates? How much was it?

Are the minutes lacking enough information or am I misunderstanding them?

I could go on, but I think this is will do for now.

What’s troubling here is not just the flow of money and if you agree with it, but that it is public tax money and it is seemingly impossible to discern how it is being spent. Minutes are not required to be transcripts, but they should not raise questions of what is happening with money that belongs to all of us.


Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The MAP"---FICTION

Click on the post for the latest from the fictional land of Normal, Mn.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The Gospel of Noah"---FICTION

Click on the post for the latest. (Original post August 2007)

ABC: Stand Up

For a long time, there have been folks that have held "stand up" meetings. No coffee. Just business. Fast moving effective meetings.

Click on the post for an article that says that standing up could be the difference for your health. Enjoy.

Public Works: 11-27-2007: MSA: JoeDeyoung (3 of 3)

MSA: Joe DeYoung: (3 of 3); "It's exactly what we expected."

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Public Works: 11-27-2007: Joe DeYoung of MSA(2 of 3)

On "Zone A" floodplain; Means "not accurate"---flooding exactly what we expected.

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Public Works: 11-27-2007: Joe DeYoung of MSA Speaks

MSA: Joe DeYoung speaks: Flooding was no surprise at all.

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Public Works: 11-27-2007

Jim Turner Speaks: "If you knew, why did you allow development?

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WSJ: St. Mary's Expansion Unveiled: Just in time for Baby Boomers

Click on the post for the front page story in today's Wisconsin State Journal. Years in the making, and quite a story of cooperation of community homeowners and the hospital, this facility is having some tours open to the public.

Click on the post for the full scoop.

Mailbag: Denise Writes: The Story of Jared

Dear Friends,

I want to tell you about a very courageous friend of Ian's whose name is Jared. Jared has been battling leukemia since the end of 2004, when both boys were in Kindergarten. During these past three years, Jared has been in & out of the hospital too many times to count, undergone numerous rounds of chemo, & received gallons of platelets & blood transfusions. At the beginning of 2007, tests showed that his body was responding increasingly well. If his cancer went into remission, he would then be able to have a bone marrow transplant, which was scheduled for November 23rd, 2007 the day after Thanksgiving. The doctors were hopeful that the possible donors presented good matches.

Then in mid-July everything came to an abrupt end when his bone biopsy came back showing that his white blood cell count was fewer than 100. The cancer had returned with a vengeance. Since then he has had another block of chemo, with no success. His body did not respond. The bone marrow transplant was cancelled. The doctors could not do anything else for this brave child.

Jared came home the day before Thanksgiving. Hospice has been involved. It could be any time within days to weeks before the cancer takes over his body & he dies. He is on lots of pain medication & steroids, but still he hurts. His parents Kim & Scott & his younger sister, Sara, have shown unbelievable courage in the face of this horrific nightmare that has overtaken Jared’s body.

The outpouring of love from family, friends, & from people he’s never met is overwhelming. People from all over the world have logged onto the website the family has kept & written words of hope & encouragement.


Here in Evansville, JC McKenna Middle School students heard about Jared & remembered the true story of Sadako Sasaki, who lived in Hiroshima, Japan. Sadako, who also had leukemia, died at age 12 after being exposed ten years earlier to radiation from the atomic bomb. While she was in the hospital, Sadako tried to fold 1000 paper cranes. She believed the legend that said those who fold 1000 paper cranes would have a wish granted. Sadly, she died having folded only 644 cranes. After her death, her friends folded the remainder. The middle school students at JC McKenna were so greatly inspired, they have voluntarily undertaken the momentous task of folding 1000 paper cranes.

I am now asking for your help. Please:

v Pray for a miracle.

v Log onto the Caring Bridge website & send Jared, Kim, Scott, & Sara a message of hope.

v Fold cranes. It’s actually very easy. For instructions, log onto http://www.sadako.com/fold/folding.html

v Send your cranes to Jared Fredrickson, 7839 North Robert Drive, Evansville, WI 53536-1117

v And send this email to everyone in your address book.

This year for Christmas I am not asking for world peace, but a miracle for Jared. Please join me.



Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Public Works: 11-27-2007: Question and Answer

Public Works: 11-27-2007: Questions from Citizens and answers from Engineers

MP3 File

Public Works: 11-27-2007

Additional Engineering Presentation--Mike and Joe---MSA Engineering and Foth

MP3 File

Public Works: 11-27-2007

Public Works: City Hall: 11-27-2007: Dave Sauer speaks on findings and possible actionable ideas

MP3 File

"New York Nice"---a true story

Over twenty years ago New York was having a problem. It was a very unfriendly city, with rampant crime, and what was even worse, businesses were leaving left and right to get cheaper rent in New Jersey. The attitude of new business was------ if folks in New York were not welcome, why not locate somewhere people were friendly.

And they did. Businesses moved and announced the moves daily.

New Yorkers, led by Mayor Koch, went on the educational offensive. They realized that
education can solve anything.....they hoped. They printed little handbooks explaining to New Yorkers in stark terms.....how to be nice....how to be welcoming....how to be civilized. Then the little books went over the consequences if they did not educate themselves.....that was the section about rising taxes.

It probably was not the nice part of the instruction in the books that worked with these folks---maybe it was the stark prospect of skyrocketing costs of living that made the difference. In any event---you all know the rest of the story.

New York did become more welcoming. And they did make some progress in the crime area. And they did retain and gather more business.

I have been searching my old boxes of nostalgia to see if I can find one of those old "New York Nice" booklets. They might just be useful.

By the Bay: San Francisco: Julie writes re: Homelessness in SF

Here is the latest from the Bay. Click on the post.

Evansville Public Works announces meeting on November 27, 2007---Primary Focus --Surface Water Drainage: The engineers will be there

The long awaited public meeting focusing on the surface water drainage in the general South Sixth Street area will be held at City Hall, on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 6PM, Third Floor, 31 South Madison Street.

Mason Braunschweig, Chair of the Public Works Committee has announced that input will be heard from engineers Dave Sauer, Mike Liebman and Joe DeYoung. Dave and Mike are with Foth Infrastructure and Environment. Joe is with MSA Professional Services and has recent experience with hydraulic studies in the area for a private development firm.

Both Immediate and Long Term improvement options will be discussed. The possibility of Evansville establishing a stormwater utiity will also be discussed.

Past meetings have focused on the problems. This meeting will discuss some possible solutions. This is a must meeting for all residents that have been affected by the recent flooding. Spread the word with your neighbors.

The Evansville Observer will provide complete gavel to gavel audio, plus selected video of the meeting.

The other shoe===== Decline in home valuation means decline in municipal revenues

Midst rising costs for energy and...well...everything else, it is beginning to get some attention today on the wall street pundit shows, that declining real estate prices and valuation will mean a decline in municipal revenues exactly at a time when they do not need it.

This will result in rising taxes or declines in services or staff or both. While Michigan and Ohio have gotten the worst of it in the Midwest, it seems that Illinois and Wisconsin may be only slightly affected.

That being said, the four big electoral states, Florida, Texas, California and New York ----the first three are heavily affected by the foreclosure crisis and it must be assumed that the political pundits will have to posture a solution to the mortgage crisis if they hope to gain power. I do not hear anyone suggesting a bank foreclosure holiday. it seems to me that it will be hard to fashion a solution midst the passion of a national election. It is radical. However. I do believe that a foreclosure moratorium will be the only thing that works. Only a time out will allow the slow as molasses governmental units to catch up to the problem.

Eager Free Library Minutes: October, 2007----Business on line directory discussed


1. Closed session: Union negotiations.

Board President Eloise Eager called the meeting to order at 5:35pm. Members present: Eloise Eager, Wally Shannon, Gwen Clendenning, Susan Kruser, Diana Eager, Kim Miller, Kathi Kemp-Tejeda. Absent: Vicki Lecy-Luebke.

D. Eager moved to go into closed session. W. Shannon seconded. All in favor, none opposed. Motion carried.

2. Call to order.

S. Kruser moved to reconvene into open session. D. Eager seconded. All in favor, none opposed. Motion carried. E. Eager called the meeting to order at 6:27pm.

3. Approval of he September 2007 Minutes.

S. Kruser moved to accept the Sept minutes. D. Eager seconded. All in favor, none opposed. Motion carried.

4. October bills.

Had to put grass seed down on the lawn near the sidewalk after the road construction was complete. Exterminator resolved wasp problem. Library Directory K. Kemp-Tejeda hand carried 30+ new Spanish author books for the library back from a recent trip to Spain. Prices were more reasonable and selection better than what is available here. W. Shannon moved to accept and pay the Sept bills. D. Eager seconded. Roll call vote: Aye: E. Eager, W. Shannon, G. Clendenning, S. Kruser, D. Eager, K. Miller. None opposed. Motion carried.

5. Librarian’s report

Local business may underwrite half the annual cost of the Business resources online subscription database. The library would pay the full cost of the genealogy database. Six people attended the recent genealogy program presented by former Eager Free Library Director Ruth Ann Montgomery. There’s a quilting program coming up. The Rockcat shared library system will be implemented at Eager Free and the remaining 3 libraries in mid Nov 2007. Staff training is in progress. The library logo is ready to go. On track budget wise. 75% of the year has past, have used 70% of the budget. Library Director plans to review the privacy policy with the staff.

6. Reconsideration of Library Motto.
Discussed possible mottos. Will continue working discussion later.

7. Consideration of after hours meeting room staffing and also policy revision.

Discussed staffing during after hour use of the library meeting room. Discussed revised draft of meeting room policy. K. Miller will incorporate additional suggestions for review at the November Board meeting.

8. Adjourn.

S. Kruser moved to adjourn the meeting. G. Clendenning seconded. All in favor, none opposed, motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 7:10. W. Shannon left at 7pm. Next meeting will be Nov 6 at 5:30pm to discuss the Union Contract and payment of special City Assessment.

Minutes prepared by Board Secretary. K. Miller.

"School Solar" on agenda of Water and Light

Click on the post for the agenda of the meeting on Wednesday.

yahoo: Home Prices slip 4.5% in 3rd Quarter

Click on the post for the latest.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Public Works Tuesday Night--agenda released

Click on the post for the full agenda. The water issue will be moved to the front.

School Beat: Minutes for October and November 2007

The minutes are now available at the school web site. Click on the post.

Minutes: Public Works; November 2, 2007

City of Evansville
Public Works Committee

Special Meeting
Friday, November 2, 2007, 12:00 noon
Public Works Garage, 535 South Madison Street


I. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order at 12:01 pm by Chair Mason Braunschweig. Present: Mason Braunschweig, John Sornson, and Fred Juergens. Also present: Superintendent Dave Wartenweiler, Mayor Sandy Decker, Administrator Dan Wietecha, and Gib Wiedenhoeft.

II. Approve Agenda. The agenda was accepted as presented.

III. Citizen Appearances. None.

IV. Lake Leota Engineering. The Committee discussed the four proposals and narrowed the list to three. Braunschweig noted SOLE’s recommendation to hire Vierbicher. Wietecha noted that all reference checks came back positive. After continued discussion, the Committee ranked the three proposals with Vierbicher on top. ___________ moved, seconded by ____________, to award the engineering project to Vierbicher in an amount not to exceed $50,000 upon condition that sediment and boring samples are included. Motion approved unanimously.

V. Adjournment. With no further business, the meeting adjourned.

Minutes; Redevelopment Authority: Nov. 20, 2007

Evansville Redevelopment Authority
Board of Commissioners

Regular Meeting
Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 7:30 pm
City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, Wisconsin


I. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order at 7:30 pm by Tom Calley. Present: Betsy Ahner, Tony Wyse, John Decker, Barb Jacobson, and Tom Calley. Absent: Chris Eager and Roger Roth. Also present: Executive Director Dan Wietecha and Mayor Sandy Decker.

II. Declare Quorum. There being a majority of the commissioners present at call to order, a quorum was declared.

III. Approve Agenda. Decker made a motion, seconded by Wyse, to approve the agenda. Motion carried unanimously.

IV. Approve Minutes of October 16, 2007 Meeting. Ahner made a motion, seconded by Jacobson, to approve the minutes. Motion carried unanimously.

V. Old Business.

a. Allen Creek Master Plan. Wietecha noted that the final plan had been approved by the Common Council on November 13. He also clarified that the plan is not an amendment to the Smart Growth Plan, so it should be consider guidelines for development rather than requirements. John Decker noted that in the future the City may want to consider adopting some of the recommendations, such as keeping traffic routed along Union Street, as requirements.

VI. New Business.

a. TID #5 Procedures. Wietecha distributed copies of the existing TID #5 loan policy. He said the standard program was set to be a low-interest loan for the lesser of either 20% of the current property value or 20% of the project costs. The policy also indicates that on the merits of an individual project the Authority may deviate from the standard program, including awarding funds above the threshold. He distributed a list of criteria previously discussed but not formally approved by the Authority indicating the types of projects that may justify deviating from the standard TIF program. As indicated in the criteria and previous projects, the Authority may consider promotion of historic restoration reason to consider exceeding the standard program.

b. 16 West Main Street. The building was constructed in the 1880s and was damaged by a fire this past year. John Decker relayed information he had been given by Cheryl Fuchs and Chris Eager who are purchasing the building. They intend to historically restore the building with office or retail space on the first floor and one apartment upstairs. The extent of the historical restoration will depend on the availability and amount of TIF assistance that may be available. The Authority indicated that the historic restoration was favorable but an application for assistance, including construction budget and pro forma, would be required to discuss the proposal in detail.

VII. Other Business. None.

VIII. Adjournment. Calley moved, seconded by Jacobson, to adjourn the meeting. Motion approved unanimously at 8:30 pm.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Grumps"---Toolman--shops at lumberyard on Black Friday

Reading the national pundits that were declaring the holiday season to be "robust" on the basis of a few early hours of shopping on Black Friday, I was stunned to see "Grumps" has sallied forth to shop at the lumber yard (It is unclear what present he was shopping for) and his conclusion on a global basis that indeed waiting in line was no problem.

Click on the post.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Washington Post: Corn, Iowa, Politics move to the center

Click on the post for an interesting article on corn. Is corn getting a bad rap?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk coming to Madison Vilas Park--December 8th

Lace up your running shoes and get ready for some holiday cheer! Jingle Bell Run/Walk is a fun and festive way to kick off your holidays by helping others!

Wear a holiday themed costume. Tie jingle bells to your shoelaces. Run or walk with your team members and celebrate the season by giving!

Follow This Link to visit the website.

Some email systems do not support the use of links and therefore this link may not appear to work.
If so, copy and paste the following into your browser:

Gazette Corner: Are Gas Stations "Historic"?

Click on the post for the article in the Gazette. Are fish houses next? If not, why not?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

School Board Minutes Pending since September 24th

For my dear readers who have wondered why there are no minutes listed in the Evansville School site for school board meetings since September 24th----I must simply say---I do not know and I too am waiting. I will post them when they are posted to the web site.

School Board Candidate Info session scheduled for Dec. 3rd

Click on the post for the agenda.

City of Evansville advertises for Finance Director

Click on the post for the latest.

The Yahoo poll---on finance stocks

(Ed.note: This is the poll results as of 11-21-2007 on Yahoo finance. Is it attractive to invest in finance stocks now?)

Yes. The risk/reward ratio is attractive. 41%
No. More bad news is on the way. 59%
44391 Votes to date

Getting it "ON"----the network

The Evansville Observer has begun to launch the "ON" network of bloggers---or the Observer Network. The objective is to double and triple the visits to advertiser ads immediately. While blogging may not seem costly, it is not free. In fact, one blogger has mentioned that even the coffee expense is quite high.

So---you may see ads or pictures of folks you may know from The Evansville Observer on other blog sites.

The "ON" Network----we have the market covered.

Should TIF be used for unpaid or underpaid Fire Claims? How about a new Coach House with TIF money?

The question has arisen lately whether TIF money should be used to pay homeowners with inadequate fire insurance protection. Or homeowners who do not choose "replacement coverage" because it is more expensive, might possibly just ask for inclusion in the TIF district and then file a claim. Kinda creative.

Also. When one thinks of the Coach House. When in cases of possible arson, where insurance claims can drag on ...well...forever....could a commercial entity request rebuilding from TIF money?

Looking back over the past posts on The Observer. Yes. We keep the posts rather than delete them every week. Here is a nostalgic post from September 2005.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Reader Speaks: Why not make all of Evansville a TIF?

Yesterday on my bike ride, I observed a man waving at me vigorously---so I stopped. " Are you the Observer?, he asked. "Yes," I replied, not knowing what would come next.

"Well," he said "Why not make all of Evansville a TIF, and shorten up all these meetings? It would save a lot of hot air!"

Stunned, I had no immediate reply. Yes, I was speechless. I told him I would think this over and reply on the blog.

There would be lots of advantages....All East Main residents would be elegible for "historic siding" that would be covered under TIF even if it did not add one dollar of "tax increment" to the home value. After all, it is important to improve the entrance to Evansville.

After long and hard thought, however, I realized what the problem would be. In a city that is deeply concerned about conflict of interest, if all of Evansville were included in a TIF district, all of the council members would have to recuse themselves from the vote and hence none could occur.

I do want to thank the resident for the idea however. If you have ideas that you want to share, post on the blog. Thanks.

Posted by Evansville Observer at 8:15 AM

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Minutes: Water and Light: October 31, 2007

Water& Light Committee Meeting
Regular Monthly Meeting
Wednesday October 31,2007
6:30 P.M. At 15 Old 92

Members Present Tom Cothard Chair, John Sornson and Barb Jacobson at 6:35

Staff: Scott George Superintendent, John Rasmussen foreman and Dan Wietecha

Also present were: Mary Libby

1. Chairperson Cothard called the meeting to order at 6:30P.M.
2. Motion by Sornson 2nd by Cothard to approve the September 26, 2007 Water & Light Minutes with one change motion carried 3-0
3. Citizens concerns 1) Mary Libby requested reimbursement for damage to home appliances after a problem with her transformer after some discussion her request was denied. 2) Lolita Martins requested reimbursement for a damaged water heater Motion by Cothard 2nd Sornson to table Passed 3-0 3) Bev Krueger concern about her tenant’s delinquent account - no action taken
4. Discussion and motions on Public Benefits. 1) St. John’s Church $660.00 Motion by Sornson 2nd by Jacobson Passed 3-0, 2) Evansville Schools $2500.00 Motion by Sornson 2nd by Jacobson Passed 3-0
5. Committee Reports – Chairman Cothard: Tom asked about old St. Light poles. They will be put back up when the city finds locations for them
6. Committee Reports - Supt. Scott George: 1) Scott presented the revised job descriptions for Lineman and Line foreman after reviewing them the comm. Approved them.2) Scott ask for permission to fill the Lineman position vacated by Dean Hermanson that had not been filled - the comm. granted his request.
7. There was no other legal action to come before the committee
8. Motion to adjourn by Jacobson 2nd by Cothard at 7:10 P.M. Passed 3-0

These minutes are not official until approved by the Water & Light Committee.

Submitted by John A. Rasmussen

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dateline Normal: "Normal Insurance"---FICTION

Click on the post for the latest adventure from the land of Normal, Mn.

School Beat: Program Based Budgeting Noted: Flat or decreased enrollment noted

(Ed.note: The following was in the packet from the recent November 2007 Evansville School Board meeting.)

Program Based Budgeting:

We are a bit behind last year’s schedule, although this year’s process should be a little less time consuming. Due to the lateness of the state budget we weren’t able to get the figures together for the groups. We have also made some changes to the process based on last year’s experiences including more involvement on the part of the Administrative Team and the Board up front in setting priorities.

Last year, due to the enrollment increase we had about $477,805 to distribute once increases in fixed costs were allowed for. $89,512 went to the District to increase the capital projects fund. The rest ($388,393) was allocated to the sites based on a five year average of enrollment changes. In general, this allowed buildings to catch-up with needs based on increasing enrollment.

Given that the middle and elementary enrollments will be flat or slightly lower two years in a row, a much smaller amount than the $388,393 appears to be needed to finish catching up the high school and intermediate schools increased enrollment. This should leave money to address the District level needs that could not be addressed last year.

Finance Committee will meet on Monday at noon to review the budget assumptions and Administrative Team recommendations. The Finance Committee will discuss these and make recommendations that evening for the full board to consider.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Eager Building: Sounds of "Undercover"

"Undercover"---featuring Rock and Country covers, played at the Eager Building ---Click on the icon for "Living on Tusa Time. For the most historically accurate results, turn up the VOLUME VERY LOUD. ROCK ON. Click on the post for the website of "Undercover.Enjoy."

Download File

Polk County Finance Officials charged with Open Meeting Law Violations

Click on the post for the latest.

Mailbag; Brett Davis: On 80th District Bridge Repair---the update

80th District Bridge Repair Updates

As winter approaches, local residents have become concerned with a couple bridges that have not been completed in the area. Specifically, the bridges on County Road EE near Monticello and County Road PB near Belleville remain unopened.

With winter deadlines looming, Representative Brett Davis (R-Oregon) has been in contact with the Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding the projects.

“I have been in contact with the DOT to ensure the bridges are opened back up as soon as possible,” stated Davis. “The detours not only create headaches for motorists, but also cost local businesses time and money and increase wear and tear on local township roads. I understand the importance of the bridges’ timely construction and will continue to put pressure on the DOT.”

Davis said the County Road EE bridge construction is under the supervision of DOT contract Project Manager Dennis Driver. Davis was assured that two crews will be working on the project over the next few weeks. Concrete is scheduled to be poured around December 1st. The bridge repair is on pace to be open before Christmas Day.

In addition, work is continuing on the County Road PB bridge. Davis said the construction crew is expected to start paving on November 19th and 20th. County Road PB is currently scheduled to reopen on December 7th, weather permitting.

Rep. Davis will remain in regular contact with the DOT and residents over the issue. If anyone in the area has questions or concerns, Davis encourages them to contact his cell phone directly at (608) 345-8576.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Street Opening: EHS Band--"Brick House"

EHS band braves the cold to belt out "Brick House"

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Street Opening: Tour of the Eager Bldg.

Cake at the Eager Building; Tour of the upper apartments.Catch the excitement.You get the news when it happens. Not a week later. The Evansville Observer. Where the main stream news gets their news.

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Evansville Marching Band: "Dancing Queen"

Evansville, Street Opening, Friday, Nov. 16, 2007. EHS Band plays "Dancing Queen" Catch the excitement. The Evansville Observer. We do the news in the cold weather. Not just the fluffy little puppy stories.

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Downtown Street Opening Ceremony-11-16-2007: Mayor Decker

Mayor Decker spoke at the official ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday 11-16-2007, with the Evansville Band, politicians and citizens in attendance. Catch the excitement. If it's not on The Evansville Observer--it probably did not happen.

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Party Details for Today--Friday--and Tomorrow

I may not have everything here but just tried to keep all the information updated as I heard about them or people let me know. St. John’s Lutheran Church Christmas Bazaar is on Saturday too at 312 Third Street from 9 AM to 2 PM which is just a short trip from Main Street .

Friday & Saturday Main Street Artist & Exhibitors’ tour

3pm to 8 pm Friday

10 am to 4 pm Saturday

Inside Out Expressions 13 W. Main

Various artists and art supplies

Paintings, jewelry, pottery, handbags

Old State Farm Office 11 W. Main

Jean Wyse – original jewelry & folk art

Catherine Arnold – jewelry, glass etchings, crocheted handbags

Angelika Lopez – framed prints – fantasy art –anime

Nancy Korslin – framed prints and cards

Robin Grignon – paintings, hand painted ornaments of historic places in Evansville / gift baskets

La Trattoria 1 West Main Street

Tory Smith – Photography

The Eager Building 7 East Main

Evansville Community School District Student Art Exhibit

Richard Krake - Paintings

Mary Calley – hand-made mittens

Phil Hamilton – Fire District display & home grown honey

Friends of the Community/ Senior Center – plans and info

Primetimers – Bake Sale – Friday night

4th of July Committee – nominate a theme for 2008 contest booth

The Evansville Manor – booth with plans & info

1918 Monitor Windmill on Display

Soccer Club - Saturday

The Black Sheep 10 East Main Street

Various handmade items & Knitting Classes

Sampling Event –Free Items for a small donation to charity!

Real Coffee 18 East Main Street

Various artists and artisans – paintings to jewelry to books

Friday Summary of Events

3pm- Ribbon Cutting and Cake sponsored by City of Evansville at Maple & Main

Cake served in Eager Building

3pm- Marching Band-Evansville Community School District –ribbon cutting ceremony

3:30 pm to 4:30 pm- Treats and Historical Tour at Eager Free Public Library

4:00 – 7:00 Free Carriage rides begin- sponsored by Evansville Chamber of Commerce

4:30 -3rd & 4th Grade Drum & Xylophone Ensemble at Eager Building – Evansville Community School District

6:00 PM -Kris Adams performs Indie, folk, and folk rock at Real Coffee- sponsored by Evansville Community Partnership


Kids’ Activities at the old Dollarland – 9:30

10:00 AM to Noon Santa arrives on fire truck at Grange - sponsored by Evansville Chamber of Commerce

1:00 PM Band Undercover performs at The Eager Building . Part of East Main closed to vehicle traffic to allow people to carry-out beer or wine from local businesses to visit other businesses and to listen to bands. – Sponsored by Evansville Community Partnership

2:30 pm to 3:30 pm High school Vocal group from Evansville Community School District carols along Main Street and at local Main Street Businesses.

3:30 pm to 4:30 pm Middle School vocal group from Evansville Community School District carols along Main Street and at local Main Street Businesses.

4:00 pm to 7:00 pm The Blue Olives perform at The Eager Building-sponsored by The Evansville Community Partnership.

7:00 pm East Main to Maple reopens to vehicle traffic.

8 pm at La Trattoria 1 W. Main Street– Saboroso – scola de samba – School of Samba

Robin L. Grignon

Evansville Community Partnership

Community Coordinator

8 W.Main Street


Building Our Future Together

Street Opening TODAY: 3PM----Party Begins----The Eager Building---Main and Madison--the schedule of festivities

Click on the post for the article by Gina Duwe in the Gazette today as well as the schedule of festivities.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mailbag: Sonic Writes; "The Cars We Drove"

Click on the post for some nostalgia of the cars of the 50's and 60's.

Minutes: Finance and Labor: November 8, 2007

City of Evansville
Finance & Labor Relations Committee

Regular Meeting
Monday, November 8, 2007, 5:30 pm
City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, Wisconsin


Call to Order. The meeting was called to order at 5:30 pm by Chair Tom Cothard.

Roll Call. Present: Chair Cothard and Alderpersons Mason Braunschweig and Diane Roberts. Also present: Finance Director Eric Jepperson, Administrator Dan Wietecha, and Library Director Kathi Kemp-Tejeda.

Approve Agenda. Braunschweig made a motion, seconded by Roberts, to approve the agenda as presented. Motion approved unanimously.

Minutes of October 8, 2007, Meeting. Cothard made a motion, seconded by Roberts, to waive the reading of and to approve the minutes as presented. Motion approved unanimously.

Citizen Appearances. None.

Water and Light Bills. Cothard made a motion, seconded by Braunschweig, to approve the Water and Light bills in the amount of $1,236,275.00 and authorize their payment. Motion approved unanimously on a roll call vote.

City Bills. Cothard made a motion, seconded by Braunschweig, to approve the City bills in the amount of $1,053,840.48 and authorize their payment. Motion approved unanimously on a roll call vote.

Unfinished Business:

a. 2008 Operating Budget. Jepperson reviewed his budget memo. He noted that no changes had been made since the October 9th City Council meeting. The proposed levy would result in a slight tax rate decrease. Cothard made a motion, seconded by Roberts, to recommend to the Common Council adoption of the proposed 2008 City Operating Budget. Motion approved unanimously.

b. Post Office Loan. Wietecha indicated that the City had received no proposals for the promissory note so the Common Council had instructed Jepperson to apply for a State Trust Fund loan. As part of its procedures, the State Trust Fund requires specific language in an authorizing resolution. Cothard made a motion, seconded by Roberts, to recommend to the Common Council adoption of Resolution 2007-47, Borrowing $200,000 from the State Trust Fund for Purchasing the Post Office. Wietecha noted that a commercial appraisal had been order but was not yet complete. Braunschweig made a motion, seconded by Roberts, to recommend to the Common Council purchase of the Post Office building and property for $200,000. Amendment approved unanimously on a roll call vote. Motion, as amended, approved unanimously on a roll call vote.

c. Fire Station Loan. Wietecha indicated that the City had received no proposals for the promissory note so the Common Council had instructed Jepperson to apply for a State Trust Fund loan. As part of its procedures, the State Trust Fund requires specific language in an authorizing resolution. Cothard made a motion, seconded by Roberts, to recommend to the Common Council adoption of Resolution 2007-46, Borrowing $169,000 from the State Trust Fund for Purchasing the Fire Station.

d. Waste & Recycling Contract. Wietecha distributed a copy of the proposed contract with his review comments. He noted that it contained a number of unexpected changes from the current contract and that he was meeting with Veolia again on Friday to revise the proposed contract to be consistent with the current contract. Braunschweig made a motion, seconded by Roberts, to recommend to the Common Council approval of the Veolia Solid Waste Midwest contract extension contingent on adequate negotiations by the City Administrator. Motion approved unanimously.

e. Vacant Lot on Water Street. Wietecha noted that the actual calculation of the pricing would depend on the land area involved. The Committee agreed that any necessary survey work would be the responsibility of the buyer.

f. Compensation during Union Negotiations. It was noted that the City had compensated the city administrator for the additional time involved with union negotiations three years ago. Wietecha said negotiations were a responsibility under his contract and job description and should not be additionally compensated. Cothard noted that most of the previous negotiations had been held in the evening and had been an extra burden on the city administrator; current negotiations have been held during the day.

g. Union Contracts. Wietecha noted that they had met with all three unions for initial proposals.

New Business:

h. Judge’s Salary. Braunschweig noted that the Municipal Judge is an elected position and should be held to a higher level of public service than a city employee. Wietecha noted that some of the increase in court salaries budgeted for 2008 may be needed to cover an anticipated budget over-run in 2007. The Committee tabled the issue to research statutory requirements regarding the timing of salary increases.

i. Lineman Position Description. Wietecha noted this position description had last been updated in 1997. The new version has been reviewed by the Water & Light Superintendent, Line Foreman, and the Water & Light Committee. Cothard made a motion, seconded by Braunschweig, to approve the lineman position description. Motion approved unanimously.

j. Line Foreman Position Description. Wietecha noted this position description had last been updated in 1997. The new version has been reviewed by the Water & Light Superintendent, Line Foreman, and the Water & Light Committee. Cothard made a motion, seconded by Braunschweig, to approve the line foreman position description. Motion approved unanimously.

k. Rock County Library Levy. Cothard made a motion, seconded by Roberts, to recommend to the Common Council application of exemption to the 2007 Rock County library levy. Motion approved unanimously.

Adjournment. On a motion by Cothard, seconded by Roberts, the meeting adjourned at 6:40 pm.

Sidenote: 'The Fluffy Little Puppy"

One of my faithful readers has wondered why The Observer does not cover those delightful "fluffy little puppy" stories like all the other media outlets. Those special stories that checkout shoppers all over the world simply cannot resist.

I have replied with the usual: We cover the meetings, local news, business news. We are where the regular media get their news. Somehow that still disappointed my reader. So. Just this once.

Click on the post for "The Fluffy Little Puppy."

Minyanvile; "Enhanced Cash Fund" breaks the buck

Click on the post for the first example of an "Enhanced Cash Fund" that did not redeem shares at $1, and provides a warning to all fund investors, schools, corporations, pension funds etc.....

Biofuels Corner: Connecting the Dots-----reflection

Recently I have posted some speeches of the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, and have also published audio of the recent Common Council meeting regarding the North Prairie Production announcement of temporary suspension of construction of the biodiesel plant due to the large spike upward of soybeans. The purpose of this post is to connect some of the dots. I know some of you might have wondered why I was covering the Federal Reserve.

When The Evansville Observer posted the picture on the right of the blog of Governor Doyle and Mayor Decker announcing that Evansville, Wisconsin was the Soybean Capital of Wisconsin.....it may surprise you to know that very quickly a visitor from Dubai, Saudi Arabia came to view the story. Yes. For a minute, I thought maybe they were looking for something from The Tales from Normal.

Just imagining a little, if one was an investor, a speculator, and yes even an oil titan from Saudi Arabia, one would see that there was a speculation----and also that by driving the price up and profiting, one could also impair the competition. With the free reign that the "Hedge Funds" have been given we have lost the ability to control items of the national interest---energy---and everything is up to speculation. Even our Money Market Funds and pensions have been infiltrated with investments that are not "FIXED" in the traditional sense, but are junk if the public loses confidence in them. This is in stark contrast to a CD which is guaranteed by the Federal Government. But I digress....

The Federal Reserve Chairman, Bernanke was recently questioned after a speech and one Senator asked bluntly whether he in the Federal Reserve knew any more than the investment firms that seems to know so little about their own investments. He replied that they had not done "due diligence." The next step in the story is the new level of reporting required by banks, that will require that banks DETAIL the loans they are carrying and the specific risk of each, rather than aggregate them. Investors, retired folks, etc. who had invested in money market funds etc. had no idea that their investments were at such risk.

Now with the greater "TRANSAPARENCY" of reporting, they will know.

Now moving to the North Prairie Production decision to temporarily suspend construction. If you listen to Pres. Mike Robinson's video on the Observer, you will hear him say the banks could not close the loan because of the "securitization" of the investment, meaning that it was to be packaged to many banks to diversify the risk.----however---with the new reporting rules---if the loan was "non-performing" right at the beginning, investors would balk--and they did.

As I see it: Our nation and our state of Wisconsin have a huge interest in energy independence and stability, and have an interest in protecting emerging industry such as our biofuel industry. It is not a partisan thing. Governor Doyle was there at the ground breaking ceremony---as well as politicians from both political parties. The Governor even brought a check to the ceremony and pledged the support of the State of Wisconsin.

So stay tuned. There is more transparency in the banking system now than there was 6 months ago. That is good. I believe others will step up to figure a way to help our biofuel industry thrive here in Evansville---it is in the State, National and local interest. That is how I see it.

Stormwater Utility: List of Communities that have One: Charges; and More

Click on the post to access the list of communities that have a stormwater utility--this list goes with the memo below from Dan Wietecha, Evansville City Administrator regarding the Overview of a Stormwater Utility.

Background: Memo from Evansville City Administrator Dan Wietecha re: Overview of Stormwater Utility Concept

(Ed. Note: This memo was in the packet for last Tuesdays Evansville Common Council. The list of individual communites that have a stormwater utility will be in a separate post.)

October 23, 2007

To: Public Works Committee
From: Dan Wietecha, City Administrator

Re: Stormwater Utility Overview

A stormwater utility may be created to manage the stormwater system throughout the city. User fees would be established proportionate to the amount of stormwater runoff occurring from each individual property. It is primarily for maintenance, but also to fix existing deficiencies throughout the drainage system. New development still required to install ponds etc at own expense.

There are at least 60 stormwater utilities in the state, and they are becoming more common in response to tight budgets and increased requirements for water quality. A principal advantage to using a utility (rather than paying for stormwater taxes through property taxes) is that it more equitably allocates the costs based on the amount of runoff produced by each property.

Statutory authority for a stormwater utility is Wisconsin Statutes, Sections 62.11, 62.18 and 66.0821.

There may be two ways to charge utility fees for stormwater: 1) create a new utility district or 2) establish the fee as a separate line item on an existing sewer utility.

A stormwater utility is not an immediate fix. Several factors need to be considered beforehand, and (if creating a new district) it can still be four months for state approval.

Are the district boundaries the city limits or extend into the township?
What is the acreage categorized by residential, commercial, agricultural, etc?
How many parcels categorized by residential, commercial, agricultural, etc?
Equivalent Runoff Unit (ERU) is typically set at the average impervious surface area for a single family house. Is this the right mechanism for Evansville? And, what is the right measure for an ERU?

Some cities provide credits for properties or developments that reduce their runoff below some threshold; is this appropriate for Evansville?
Identify existing stormwater-related expenses (eg: streetsweeping, ditch cleaning, leaf collection, storm sewer maintenance, etc) – prelim estimate $79,000/year.
Identify future stormwater-related expenses (eg: items identified to improve our floodplain CRS score, capital improvements, billing).

Develop several-year budget.

Public education about the proposed utility – How will it benefit the entire city (not just one neighborhood)? How will it affect property taxes? What are long-term plans for the utility (not just dig a pond for one neighborhood)? How is it coordinated with other city practices (eg: effort to improve our floodplain CRS score)?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Federal Reserve: Chairman Bernanke Speech 11-14-2007

Fed. Chairman speech on transparency changes at the Federal Reserve. On why improved transparency is essential for banking and the markets.

MP3 File

City Administrator Dan Wietecha's memo to Council on inpact of NPP suspension

November 13, 2007

To: Common Council
From: Dan Wietecha, City Administrator

Re: Effect of NPP Suspension

In spring 2007, City bonds and loans were issued totaling $4,065,000 to support biodiesel and associated infrastructure improvements. Approximately $1,710,000 of this is improvements benefiting neighboring properties and will be assessed accordingly; much of this property is not currently in the city so the assessments will be deferred until future annexation and/or development. Net result is $2,355,000 to directly support biodiesel; the full amount of which is expected to be financed through TIF and state grants.

The TIF assistance is scheduled to be paid during construction rather than all up front. The City has limited expenditures for the biodiesel facility to the following amounts:
$330,000 County Road M improvements specifically benefiting NPP site.
$ 80,000 Electric service and transformer for NPP site.
$ 60,000 Legal, engineering, and fiscal costs for development agreement.
$470,000 TOTAL approximate expenditures to date.

All costs are TIF eligible, meaning the collection of future tax increments may be used to satisfy any debts associated with the costs. This assumes that the project proceeds and will generate increment. The Development Agreement requires construction of the biodiesel facility by January 1, 2009, and the TIF projections are based on this date.

The Development Agreement also contains a guarantee that in any year that an insufficient amount of increment is generated (including the possibility of no increment), then NPP will pay the shortfall.

So between the TIF and the guarantee, the City’s expenditures are contractually covered. As long as NPP meets it guarantee, the City will not need to levy taxes against other residents and businesses to service the TIF debt supporting the project.

The City has received $250,000 in CDBG-PFED and TEA grants from the state. These require construction of the biodiesel facility and creation of 25 jobs by December 31, 2008. The state may require repayment or penalties for not creating 25 jobs; any required repayment or penalty is passed on to NPP in the Development Agreement. The City has not taken any of the grant money and has notified the Department of Commerce that it does not intend to draw funds with the project on hold. If the project does not proceed, this may cause a $250,000 cash flow problem for the City in spring 2008; this may reduce the amount of TIF provided as a development incentive to NPP.

Additional safeguards:
The TIF projections are conservatively based on $10 million in taxable equalized value; whereas, actual value after construction will more likely run $14-16 million. This means that (when completed) the facility should generate roughly 40-60% more increment than needed to make the projections.
The $2.3 million in TIF depends on revenues projected through 2027. A delay does not lengthen the end date; it simply reduces the time frame for collecting revenues. The longer the delay, the less TIF support for the project.
The $330,000 in County Road M improvements may be levied as a special assessment against the NPP property. This would provide an additional degree of protection for the City in the event the delay is lengthy, the project folded altogether, or it were impossible to collect on the guarantee that NPP cover any shortfall in the anticipated increment.
Development Agreement requires NPP to cover any repayment or penalties that may be imposed under the two state grants.
Development Agreement requires Landmark to pay taxes to Town of Union over next five years (total $36,000) if not covered by TIF.

Next Steps:
City meeting with representatives of North Prairie Productions and Landmark Service Cooperative anticipated within the next week to review Development Agreement and obligations therein.
Negotiate project extension for state grants beyond December 31, 2008.
Run TIF projections based on delay; consider revisions to Development Agreement to ensure progress of project without jeopardizing the City.
Consider impacts of additional development (crushing facility) on TID #7.

Common Council: Stormwater Utility Explained

Mason Braunschweig, President of the Common Council, explains the Stormwater Utility concept

Download File

Biodiesel Corner: Observer asks the Question

After the short presentation by Pres. Mike Robinson, the Evansville Observer asks....

Download File

City of Evansville proposes 2007-18 that would allow for referendum of taxpayers only for projects OVER 5 Million Dollars

It was just a bit ironic. The Common Council was meeting to hear a presentation from the biodiesel folks on the suspension of their project, in part because they had not forseen the possiblity that with the biofuels industry demand for raw product, the cost of the commodity might soar---and it has over the past six months...and what is worse, the other fuels that one could switch to have also soared....and....

At a meeting where the possibility of creating a Stormwater Utility was discussed, in part, to remedy the oversight of prior projects created in the planning process,

That the city would propose that citizens who would of course have the usual mode of input to their alderman, would not be allowed to have a referendum on any city project unless it totalled 5 Million dollars or more.

In one simple three page ordinance that was a hymn to the beauty and all encompassing intelligence and foresight of professional planning, the city prepared the way for NO REFERENDUM on either the Lake Leota project or the Library expansion, even though some pundits have cautioned that with very low growth of residential and commercial valuation in the city, uncontrolled capital expenditure could cause property taxes to skyrocket in a town that is already on the high tax list.

As soon as I can obtain an electronic copy of the ordinance I will post it. Stay tuned.

Biodiesel Corner: Ald. Fred Juergens Asks the Question

Following Mike Robinson, Pres. Of North Prairie Productions, presentation at Common Council on Tuesday, Ald. Fred. Juergens asks a question:

Download File

Mike Robinson of North Prairie Productions

Mike Robinson, President of North Prairie speaks at Evansville Common Council on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 and explains suspension of construction of biodiesel plant and answers questions.

Download File

Federal Reserve Corner: The Importance of Basil II

Federal Reserve Member Kroszner's speech yesterday at the Standard and Poors Conference was about Basil II, the new risk assessment standards that are being implemented. It is tough reading, but in the middle of the speech, the standards go to the heart of the risk of the CMO crisis, in that specific assets were not differentiated in detail under the former standard.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Audio: Common Council: 11-13-2007: Creation of Stormwater Utility

Discussion on 11-13-2007 of creation of stormwater utility to provide source of revenue, outside of normal General Obligation bonds; Might be additional item on current utility bill.

MP3 File

Audio: Common Council: 11-13-2007: Financing of Post Office

Discussion of borrowing 200,000 for purchase of post office

MP3 File

Audio: Common Council: 11-13-2007: Biodiesel Suspension of Construction

Mike Robinson, President of North Prairie Productions speaks on cause of the suspension of construction

MP3 File

Common Council Meets TONIGHT: Public Budget Hearing On Agenda: Stormwater Utility Discussed

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Proposed 2008 Evansville Operating Budget

(Ed.note: The following is from the October 9, 2007 Common Council meeting packet of information.)


To: Mayor Sandra Decker and Members of Evansville Common Council

From: Eric Jepperson, Finance Director/Treasurer

Date: October 5, 2007

Re: Proposed 2008 City Budget
Summary of Proposed 2008 City Budget

The attached proposed budget has been prepared with the primary goal of continuing to provide basic services to a growing community, while maintaining a stable tax rate. In addition, the budget will be prepared to meet the guidelines of the State of Wisconsin Expenditure Restraint Program and to ensure that the City’s levy complies with any potential State property tax levy limit, if one is imposed through the State’s budget, which has not yet been finalized.

The State of Wisconsin Expenditure Restraint Program is a program where municipalities receive revenue from the state for voluntarily controlling the level of their general fund operating expenses. Each year, operating expenses can increase by no more than the cost of living and a portion of the growth in net new construction (60% of the growth in net new construction, capped at 2%). Evansville’s net new construction to be used for this budget period was 1.994%. The 2008 limit will be equal to the cost of living plus the 60% of 1.994%, or, 1.196%. The City’s Expenditure Restraint limit to qualify for a 2008 payment is 4.896%. The proposed budget currently includes a general fund operating expense increase of 1.697%.

The State of Wisconsin has not finalized its current budget. Until it does so, the City’s 2008 tax levy will not be held to a Property Tax Levy Limit by the State of Wisconsin. In the past this limit was equal to the ratio of the increase in equalized value from net new construction divided by the total equalized value as of January 1 of that year, or 2%, whichever was greater. In addition to this levy amount, any new debt service for the next budget year could be added. The levy is for the purposes of general operations, EMS, Library, Cemetery, Debt Service and Capital projects. The proposed budget includes a levy increase of $97,806, or 5.058%.

The levy included in the proposed budget would result in a modest property tax rate decrease of 0.34%. Under this scenario, the City tax on an average residential value would increase $16.09 from $1,003.04 to $1,019.13 because of an increase in the average residential assessed value.
Notable Budget and Staffing Changes

Assessed Value - The total assessed value used to determine the property tax rate was estimated at $309,125,944. The State assessed value for industrial property has not yet been finalized. We have incorporated an estimate prepared by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for the City’s industrial property. The City’s current assessment ratio is 0.956541047.

Tax Levy (General Fund and Capital) –This budget incorporates the Council’s goal of a reduced tax rate. The tax levy has been held to an amount to provide for this property tax rate decrease of .34%.

Revenues – Property tax revenue supporting the general fund is decreasing by 2.34%. An increase in interest revenue on temporary investments, increased numbers of licenses and permits, and the additional revenues from the newly established police department vehicle registration service are expected in 2008. The City’s intergovernmental revenue (i.e. transportation aid, shared revenue, expenditure restraint payment) is remaining fairly constant.

Fire District, and Public Fire Protection - The City of Evansville’s share of funding the fire district will increase in 2008 to $127,382, which is a 6.72% increase. Public fire protection will remain at $175,000 as ordered by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. Public Fire Protection specifically refers to the cost of maintaining the fire hydrant system. Communities throughout Wisconsin collect public fire protection charges either through the property tax levy or as a special charge on the water bill. Evansville collects this charge through the property tax levy.

Department of Public Works Staffing Increase – The additional full time Public Works employee that was approved in the 2007 budget is in the process of being hired now. The full impact of the salary and benefits will begin in 2008. This General Laborer is needed at this time to address additional workload. The salary and benefit cost for this position is $61,300 per year.

EMS Township Service Agreement – Revenues from the township service agreement have been increased to reflect an increase in the per capita payment to $20. The City tax levy currently provides a City resident payment of over $20 per capita.

EMS Expenses – Additional expense in 2008 for EMS pagers and ambulance laptop computers. Grants have been applied for and potentially will offset some, or most, of this additional cost.

Debt Service Fund – The property tax levy to fund the Debt Service Fund for 2008 will increase by 42.29%, or $167,862. This is due to additional borrowings by the City for various capital projects. Most of this additional debt will be reimbursed to the City by the TIF districts through additional tax increment.

Capital Projects Fund - Items from the 5 year Capital Plan for the year 2008 have been included.

Wastewater Treatment Plant – The budget for Waste Water Treatment Plant includes upgrades to the plant estimated at $1,000,000. This is expected to be funded by borrowing.

Water Utility Budget – The City of Evansville recently had an application to increase electric rates approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. Rates had not been increased for approximately ten years. The rate adjustment is necessary due to increases in operating expenses and costs of various capital projects undertaken in 2007, and into 2008. This rate increase is reflected in the budget revenues.
Budget Schedule

The Council will hold a public hearing at their November 13, 2007 Council meeting, will make any appropriate modifications, and will adopt the Ordinance, which adopts the 2008 budget and sets the tax levy.
Check Mail Compose
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The Chart for Soybeans---the spike up

Click on the post to see the chart for soybeans---the price spike up has played a role in the delay of construction of the biodiesel plant in Evansville.

It is so that since 1969, there has not been but 8 spikes like this, but the past is meaningless when one considers that the biofuels industry has just emerged. The future is not predictable on the basis of a past chart. Make a note of it.

Soybeans----the longer view----

Click on the post for the futures for soybeans traded on the Chicago Board of Trade, with quotes and interest as far away as 2009.

yes, 2009 is an eternity away in the commodities industry. Still the numbers quoted do not suggest much of a lowering of pricing.

Background: Biodiesel Development: Jeff Pieterick Presentation

Click on the post for the recent slideshow presentation of Jeff Pieterick of the Wisconsin Biodiesel Association reviewing the elements of development of the soy biodiesel plant in Evansville, as well as the risks involved.

One of the risks is commodity prices and he reviews this. A spike in soy prices could lead to research on some alternative fuel source----the question is how quickly this switch could be made in response to spikes due to commodity speculation or even increased commodity demand.

One of the usual highlights of economies going into recession is increased inflation--with lower volumes, retailers usually want to increase prices to compensate. The increase of commodity prices recently makes me wonder what percentage of the pricing is pure speculation.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What if a "Yen" was required

A reflection in this time of currency crisis. Click on the post.

Reflection: On E-trade; On Halloween Masks; On Footville and much ..more

Just a few days after the new E=trade commercial, featuring a bank robbery wherin all the robbers wore Halloween masks, we see in quick succession, the Footville bank robbery where the robbers wore halloween masks, and today, the write down of E=trade assets due to CMO investments.

I think the moral is clear. Halloween masks are a straight ticket to the slammer. Make a note of it.

Happy Veteran's Day

Let's not forget the reason for the holiday today. The Observer takes pause to salute all the veterans out there for their service, and the sacrifices they have made, and those of their families. May we never forget.

Gazette Corner: Evansville Biodiesel Plant Halts Construction

Click on the post for the latest.

Code of Conduct-----a model ordinance

Click on the post for the Model Code of conduct for Woollahara---It sure would be nice to have a model like this incorporated into our uniform code---in fact, it would be nice to make it the first chapter.

School Beat: School Reports for November

Click on the post for the November Evansville School reports as well as a speech by Supr. Heidi Carvin on student assessment.

Evansville School Board Meets TONIGHT--

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Progressive Meetings"----FICTION

Click on the post for the latest from the land of Normal, Mn, a land of FICTION, but other than that......

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Chasin"s got the scoop:

Click on the post for the latest from "Chasin"----it seems the sleuth has tracked down what heros look like.

Evansville Community Theatre: Coming Attractions

ECT Presents “Christmas in the Grove”

Have you ever had the holiday doldrums? Has the spirit of Christmas not hit you yet? Well then it is time to get out of the house and come see our holiday show.

We will be featuring several people from the community that enjoy singing, laughing, and entertaining. We will also being featuring our aspiring chef Tim Franklin as he makes appetizers for the show on Friday (December 7th @ 6:30 p.m.) and Saturday December 8th @ 6:30 p.m.) Tim will also be using his culinary skills in preparing desserts for the (December 9th at 2:00 p.m.)

We plan to make this an annual event and fundraiser to help encourage others to come and share their gifts and talents. The tickets to the show are $15.00. Tickets can be purchased through Tom Beaver or Melissa Schnepper. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!!

Tom Beaver 295-1483
Email: beaver.t@sbcglobal.net

Melissa Schnepper 882-4523
Email: mschnepper123@yahoo.com

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bank Robbery--Footville---The Sheriff's Press Release

Click on the post for the press release.

OpEd: Modify---Simplify---the Minimum Housing ordinance----It serves the Public Interest

As a young college student, I lived with my grandmother near the University of Minnesota, and studied in the living room, with the large Oriental rug. Taking a break one night, I asked her:

Grandma---where did this oriental rug come from?

She replied, "Your grandfather won it in a poker game at the James J. Hill Mansion one night back in 1929."

That made sense. The rug was a bit worn. Still....just the idea of a poker game with the legendary James J. Hill, the Robber Barron, really got my interest.

In the olden days, when Robber Barrons were robber barrons, the Federal Government had a development program-----they cut deals for the railroad, for states, for land....directly with the Robber Barrons. That was the development plan.

In the modern age, this policy has been modified-----now it is established practice that the Community has a role in establishing what is in the community interest. They have input in the development process. It is not just a back room deal.

So----mouthing by politicians about "The Market" ---you may have heard some of this in audio lately----is just nostalgia for the days of old when the Robber Barrons met and cut deals in the back room----nowdays, the public has a say----and some folks, namely folks who think themselves robber barrons, find this offensive.

In the Planning Commission meeting last week was a thoughtful dialogue on this issue. The developers noted that the current ordinance was too complicated. It needed simplification. It was too rigid. It needed some flexibility. Their remedy was to junk the ordinance completely. They accepted no ideas for limits of any kind.

The Smart Growth Plan of 2005 made a finding of fact that there was an excessive number of lower value homes in Evansville which has led to higher property taxes since new homes built did not develop enough revenue to pay for infrastructure for the city---and not enough revenue to pay for the building required for the school system. This finding of fact at the Smart Growth plan has been extensively documented by school and city officials. It represents a valid community need. That valid community need cannot be dismissed by mouthing by folks about the "Market."

To be successful in promoting Evansville to the hinterlands, we need a community that offers affordable family living---at the current time we are on the high end of the tax spectrum. To eliminate the minimum house size ordinance would make this worse.

I believe it is prudent to modify, simplify.....but NOT eliminate the minimum house size ordinance. It represents a valid community interest for Evansville. Please tell your alderman what your thoughts are about this issue.

Click on the post for the housing section of the Smart Growth Plan adopted by Evansville in 2005.

WSJ: "Community Wind" model coming to Dane County

Click on the post for the latest.

Gazette Corner: The Footville Bank Robbery--

The Gazette has the scoop. Click on the post for the latest.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mailbag: ECP: PARTY Corner: Main Street Re-Opening Next Weekend-----

Happy Friday to you all!

Did you know there’s going to be a party on Main Street right here in Evansville next weekend? In case you didn’t know, the Main Street re-opening/ Downtown Holiday kick-off is set up to take place on Friday and Saturday, November 16th and 17th. There are lots of activities going on downtown next weekend. One part of the celebration is live music on the bricks on Saturday. That means we need people who like to have fun. Fun people like you!

We’ve got two fantastic live bands set to entertain on East Main on Saturday. Undercover a Country / Rock Band & welcome back to The Blue Olives – a local favorite famous during the 4th of July celebrations. We need people to stand by the “no alcohol beyond this point gates” so that shoppers do not leave the designated area with any alcoholic beverages. The hours needed for Saturday are 1 pm to 7 pm. The designated area is from Maple to Madison street . No intersections will be blocked. There will be two exits to cover. Shoppers will be able to visit various shops including the Eager Building carrying beverages of their choice purchased from local Main Street merchants.

We also may need people interested in helping with decorating duties Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday of next week. This may include stringing lights and festive d├ęcor.

In total, we need about 20 volunteer hours to help make it all come together. What exciting things will you be doing? Decorating downtown spaces early next week for the holidays, watching the no alcohol beyond this point gates on Saturday during the bands, or helping with some general set-up on Friday and Saturday- just to name a few possibilities.

More details…

ECP is paying for the live music from our fundraising during the 4th of July. We will not be raising any money from this event. We want to see the community come downtown and give all the businesses a big boost as we celebrate the opening of the road. That’s the most important thing. What better way to do it but with a party?

Let us know how you want to join in on the fun.

Robin L. Grignon

Evansville Community Partnership

Community Coordinator

8 W.Main Street


Building Our Future Together

Gazette Corner: Bank robbery in Footville

The Gazette has the scoop. Click on the post for the details.

Gazette Corner: On Line Video of Prep Football Coming

Click on the post for the latest. Soon. Also. On Line Video of meetings.

Stay tuned. The Evansville Observer.

We bring you the news.

NYT: Consumers in Retreat?

The recent wild discounting by retailers signals the Christmas season may be one of gloom.

Click on the post for an article in the New York Times.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Nostalgia: Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The Town That Couldn't Say NO"====FICTION

Click on the post for a classic tale from yesteryear.

Senator #6; On soverign wealth

Questions re Soverign wealth and role of efforts to expand homeownership

MP3 File

Senator #5 Questions

Senator reviews role of Federal Reserve; asks what Congress can do

MP3 File

Senator #4 Questions

Senator #4 questions for Chairman Bernanke; Reviews the human toll that the foreclosure is taking on families

MP3 File

Senator Questions #3

Sharp questions for Chairman Bernanke re Fraud charges in NY.

MP3 File

Senator Questions #2

More questions for Fed Chairman Bernanke

MP3 File

Senator Questions #l

Sharp questioning of Fed Chair Bernanke

MP3 File

Fed Chairman Bernanke Speaks

11-8-2007 Federal Reserve Bernanke's speech

MP3 File

Gazette: Orfordville: Police get grant for drinking-driving crackdown

Click on the post for the latest from Orfordville.

Fed Chairman Bernanke Testimony This Morn-11-8-2007

Click on the post for the prepared remarks of the Fed Chairman this morning. The fun part was in the questions and answers. Stay tuned. I will review some of those.

Mailbag: Karen Aikman Writes:

(Ed.note: This was posted on comments and I have brought it forward for better visibility.)

Karen Aikman said...

I will admit that my accusation of “reckless spending” is subjective and it is to each, their responsibility to consider if my term is applicable.

You bring up a point I have often ranted about on this very blog; that it is difficult to get good information without attending every meeting. It is my opinion that it is not enough to attend a Council meeting or Planning Commission meeting. The formation of so many additional sub-committees has made it difficult to know through casual observance where any item of interest will be discussed.

You mention that the problem for you is that the people who complain…don’t tell you enough so you can make your own judgment…

I think that’s a commendable sentiment, however I would tweak it to point the finger of blame at the lack of ready quality information coming out of City Hall. If you read this site, and compare these topics to the topics of the Mayors column in the Review, you will notice a definite difference in type of information being included in her summary of city activity.

It is nearly impossible to get a clear picture of what is being done and how much it is costing around here.

The bricks were indeed paid for by a grant, but the grant included all street enhancements. I am not sure how much of the grant money went to other enhancements, thereby freeing up those tax dollars to be spent elsewhere, like the west side park.

You requested that I identify some reckless spending. I’m not going to.

It is nearly impossible to say this brick or that door was an irresponsible expense. Budget items need to be weighed between each other to determine the best use of available funds. Were the bricks a better expense at this moment than the lake? Does the East side commercial TIF negatively impact the downtown TIF? Who knows? I think time will tell.

For me, these kinds of discussions were lacking. For me this is reckless.

It is my understanding from listening to the audio provided on this site that the city is very near if not at its credit limit on borrowing. For me this is reckless.

Looking up reckless, we find: careless of consequences.

The city runs a budget based on the property taxes it collects from the parcels within its boundaries. If new homes are built of larger size, then they will generate more tax dollars per home that the city can use to pay back what it has borrowed. If the city doesn’t grow in size, either by number of new homes built or size of new homes built, or through increased commercial developments, generating increased tax revenue, then the city may have little choice but to raise our taxes to pay for the recent spending spree.

If you think the recent spending was necessary and worth a potential tax increase, then it wasn’t reckless. If growth that covers the costs of the recent spending without a tax increase is obvious, then again, the spending wasn’t reckless.

These are matters of opinion, and I can’t help you form your judgment.

4:03 PM

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mailbag: Tracy from Dean Youth Center writes re: Youth In Action

From: Tracy Schroeder
Subject: YIA
To: fre2observe@yahoo.com
Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2007, 3:31 PM


Could you forward my email to Sharon Kline who had a post on your blog RE: youth in action? I would love to volunteer the use of the center to her for meetings and see how the youth center can get involved with her!

Tracy Schroeder
Evansville Youth Center Director
YMCA of Northern Rock County
We build strong kids. Strong families. Strong communities.

Reflection: Money Corner: DOW plunges: NY investigates inflated appraisals

The problem of inflated appraisals becomes a ticking timebomb in the cycle of home mortgage securitization-----when the time comes for a homeowner to be foreclosed, the home is nowhere near worth what the lender had presumed. When the homeowner who is in financial trouble seeks alternative financing, he is checkmated by any straightforward appraisal that might have helped finance his way out of the situation. Hence, Freddie Mac, or Fannie Mae, the two government mortgage agencies have an interest in making sure that the home is appraised properly in the first place. So does every single homeowner in America. However.....

That being said for the record. Inflation of home appraisals is a national problem. In my view, it is a circle of silence that is only uncovered in the situation of tragedy such as we confront today. The bank...the builder....the appraiser, the insurer.....none of these has a motivation to be the whistleblower to overappraisal. Yes. It is true that the appraiser has an ethical obligation to lower as well as raise the appraisal of properties that are reviewed. You could put that measure of ethical obligation in a thimble and ...there is a debate of how much room might be left. There is no way that the appraiser, who is not loved anyway by folks, would ask for problems with the very bank that hired him, or financed the property, since to discover a very low valuation might jeopardize current banking interests in the property.

So----the headline today that the two government agencies are being investigated was big news----and it sends a fear through the market that this problem is just the tip of the iceberg.

This problem of overappraisal may be more pronounced in areas of "hot" real estate, such as Florida and California and not in the Midwest. My impression is that the traditional lending institutions in the Midwest are historically very conservative. However. There are exceptions.

That is how I see it. And you?

Finance Committee Meets Thursday; Nov. 8, 2007

Click on the post for the full agenda.

Mailbag: Sharon writes:

* Would you please post on your site.

My name is Sharon Kline and I am a parent of 3 teenagers!!!
We have lived in Evansville for only 18 months but what I have seen of Evansville teens scares the heck out of me.

This town, as you have stated has a serious underage drinking problem. We can only all guess where they are getting this alcohol. However as you have posted on here before I have gone and contacted the Wis. Division of M.A.D.D. and they got me in contact with a rep from ' Youth in Action.' we are working on picking a time and place to meet in Evansville with other concerned parents.

What we will be working on is:
* Putting together a group of parents who are willing to man a cell phone and go and pick up kids that have been drinking and deliver them safely home.. This is not to 'encourage' drinking but to encourage safety if they are going to drink. It will not be up to the driver that day to lecture these kids , just to get them home safely.
We are not going to stop them from drinking, that is clear. But what we do could possibly save lives.

*** Work with the police dept in targeting people who buy for minors.
*** Work with the merchants to make sure they are carding every time, there is also some material they can place in there stores, and on alcohol products that lists penalty's for buying for minors.
***Get back the post prom activities, what happened with that? I understand they used to do that. That is such a simple thing to do , it just takes some effort.
*** Work on putting together a ' club' 'group' of students at both the junior high and high school that works with their peers to promote sobriety, that its 'cool' not to drink and to respect your body. We are looking in one form or another to name this club after Dane Wourms. We can never let these kids forget about Dane. That his actions cost him his life, and that is not what he would want for his friends.

I am sorry but neither the Junior High or the High School do enough to combat drinking, not until the kids are in trouble.. That is very clear.

When we have a date and time set up we will have it posted here, in the Evansville Review, and The Observer and Chasin.

We may start out small, but we will grow as I know this town over all has the best interest of the kids.


Minyanville: "Market to Fantasy?"--- Level III assets at Citigroup at 134 Billion

Click on the post for the article from Minyanville this morn that quotes the 134 Billion in Level III assets---the number is shocking in that one wonders how much will really be written off.

Stay tuned.

Yahoo: Finance: Sharp Move Down for Market Opening this Morn

While you slept last night, the Chinese announced a realignment of its currency reserves, away from the US dollar, and with its feet ------noting the the dollar is losing respect as the benchmark currency.

Click on the post for the complete article in Yahoo.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

USA Today; School Beat: Free Online Software may save schools billions

Click on the post for the latest.

"Let the Market Decide"----the Poem

"Let the Market Decide"

( I found this little poem wrapped up in jar, lying in the gutter near a local Park. I have reproduced it without alteration.)

I love
my old
I call on him
whenever I
like to be
whenever I
feel someone wants
some money

I love
my old
Laizzie Faire
except when
I need
a grant or
two,,,,or even
three if

"Let the
Market decide"
that's the
and it's
so nice I know
so well
it's what
I do
or say

or maybe
or kneel
or whatever ..just do as
I say
that's the
lazzai faire

"Some Fun with Books and Hats"

(Orig. Post 8-12-2007--classic Observer.

This was just a video focus test but I thought it was fun.

Download File

Mayor Decker speaks:

Mayor Sandy Decker speaks on new code formulation that could substitute for current ordinance that could expire;

Download File