THE FRIENDSHIP LAKE DISTRICT
AND BUDGET HEARING
Date: September 5, 2015
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Place: Friendship Village Hall
569 N Cedar St
Friendship, WI 53934
1. Call meeting to order by Chairman: The meeting was called to order by Bob Berry at 9:04 am.
Present were commissioners Bob Berry (chairman), Linda Moonan (treasurer), Larry Swaziek (secretary), and Chuck Spargo (Village of Friendship Rep.). Ron Johnson (Town of Adams Rep), Matt Morrow (Town of Preston Rep.) and Jack Pine (Adams County Rep.) were absent. Also present were Steve LaVallee (Lake Advisory Group chair) and Wally Sedlar (Adams County Land & Water) . There were 42 attendees present compared to 34 last year and 39 the year before.
Bob informed everyone of the fact that during the year he did resign as commissioner. A number of people have asked him to come back and he has accepted that request. To make it official he asked the someone make a formal motion that he be reinstated as commissioner. A motion was made by Tom Bell to reinstate Bob and was seconded by Frances Schmidt. The motion was unanimously approved.
2. Review and approval of minutes from last Annual Meeting: The minutes of the Aug. 30, 2014 Annual Meeting were summarized by Larry Swaziek. A motion was made by Betsy Vannettie to approve the minutes. It was seconded by Linda Graf and was unanimously approved.
3. Review and approval of Treasurer’s Report -- 2014-2015: The treasurer’s report for 2014-2015 was read by Linda Moonan. A copy of the Treasurer’s Report was included in the Fall 2015 Newsletter which was mailed to all members of the Lake District. Linda reminded the group that the Lake District’s fiscal year begins on August 1st of 2014 and ends July 31st of 2015. A slightly modified version of the budget that was included in the newsletter was distributed at the meeting. This distributed final budget format consolidated items such as HARVESTING PERMITS/SURVEYS, PERMITS-HARVESTER RAMP and HARVESTER RAMP COSTS with new items now listed as SURVEYS AND TESTS and RAMP COSTS OR PERMITS.
As of July 31, 2015, we have $51,092.49 in the Money Market and $793.04 in the NOW account for a total of $51,885.53. We have one equipment reserve CD totaling $16,278.16. (The Royal Bank CD was transferred to the Money market account in November of 2014.) These accounts result in a total account balance of $68,163.69 as of July 31, 2015.
On the Revenue side the Lake District receives “Special Charges” from the Town of Adams, Town of Preston, and Village of Friendship in the amount of $33,055.00.
On the Expense side Linda reported that there were some high, unexpected costs incurred this fiscal year and they were obvious once the required audit was completed. Some of the costly expenses included: 1. Expenses for our aging equipment on repairs, parts and tools totaling $4,276.00 already by November 7, 2014. Then there was an additional $5,630.00 spent from January 2015 through July 2015 which included repairs in the amount of $4,680.00 to the small harvester’s engine. This resulted in a higher than normal total equipment cost of $9,906.00.; 2. Higher fuel costs, payroll expenses and additional taxes as a result of a later harvesting season last year. We normally end the harvesting season the end of August and remove and winterize the equipment the first week of September. Last year that process was not completed until October. Any future harvesting will follow the late August/early September plan.; 3. A WDNR required Bathymetric and GPS survey was completed that cost $1,600.00., and; 4. Advertising costs that totaled $732.00 directed at finding a harvesting crew that Adam and Bill could train. Since we were not able to harvest this year, the names will be kept on file and will be called on when we are able to harvest again. The Total Actual Expenses for the Fiscal year 2014/2015 were $31,721.00
Linda added that the District hired the Certified Public Accounting Firm of Moy, Borchert, Erbs & Associates for specific accounting and tax oversight and that we switched insurance carriers for our General Liability and Worker Compensation Policies resulting in a combined annual savings of $1,114.00. An Annual Audit of the July 31, 2014 financial report was performed by three Lake District members and the financial records of the Friendship Lake District were found to be in proper order.
Carmen Carpenter asked: 1. How the board could spend over $5,000 for repairs to the small harvester. She thought we could not spend over that amount. Bob commented that the amount the board could spend used to be limited to $5,000 but it was bumped up to $10,000 a few years ago. Linda added that we do have an agreement with the other board members that, if we spend more than $5,000, we will let them know. Carmen also suggested that we make an effort to get bids from different sources so we end up with the most economical price of repair, for example. Bob and Linda did say, even though the price seems high, we did shop around in this case.; 2. $1,500 for Workman’s Comp. seems kind of high for the amount of harvesting we did this year. Linda noted that the reason it was a little is that we worked into October last year. Normally, we are done by the end of August, and; 3. Why the $1,600 for the Bathymetric and GPS survey. Linda noted that was something that was required by the WDNR and it is only a one-time charge.
Jane Carter asked why we are even paying taxes when did no weed harvesting this year. Linda noted that this is a tax that is collected by the Village of Friendship, Town of Adams and Town of Preston under Special Charges and is used for the planning and implementation of lake protection and rehabilitation projects. Larry noted that, even though nothing was done this year, that Special Charge is for the long range. Harvesting in the future, buying equipment, repairing equipment, etc. Because of the recent high cost of repair of the small harvester, Jane suggested that we may want to look at other brands of equipment. Bob indicated that the board has been looking at options.
A motion was made by Betsy Vannettie to accept the treasurer’s report as read. It was seconded by Tom Steiskal and carried unanimously.
4. Budget hearing -- 2015-2016: The proposed budget for 2016 was read by Linda Moonan. A copy of the 2016 proposed Budget was included in the Fall 2015 Newsletter which was mailed to all members of the Lake District. Linda reported that she matched up most things with the previous budgets. One of the major changes is the addition of the $3,000 under Fees/Appraisal/Legal. The Village of Friendship and the Town of Preston have already agreed to contribute up to $3,000 towards a dam appraisal. should contribute as well, that amount was added to the Budget. Also added was a separate line item for website costs. We still plan on continuing to donate to the fireworks if Ashworth’s still have it.
A motion was made by Carmen Carpenter to accept the proposed budget as read. It was seconded by Jane Carter and was unanimously approved.
5. Citizen Input: None.
6. Election of Commissioner (term ends): Bob Berry was nominated by Betsy Vanettie and Bob accepted. Bob Berry asked three times if there were any other nominations from the floor. There were none. A motion was made by Frank Kierstyn and seconded by Bill Graf to close nominations. Bob asked for a show of hands and Bob was elected by unanimous vote. Bob Berry will serve a 3 year commissioner's term.
7. Friends of Friendship Lake report: Linda Graf reported on several events that were held: a) The Spring Fling held at Carlson’s Rustic Ridge was a success this year.; b) The Annual Picnic was held last week and everyone had a good time., and; c) The ladies have been making “Save Friendship Lake: signs that can be displayed in front yards. If you want some, they are free of charge. There is even a sign in front of Pheiffer’s Auto. It was suggested that it may be a good idea to also put articles in the paper to get the word out.
8. Adams County Lake Alliance (ACLA) Report: Larry Swaziek attended the last meeting which was August 8, 2015 and reported the following: a) There is reduced funding for the WDNR resulting in reduced staff that helps Adams County with land and water issues. They now have to cover more territory.; b) There was a tour of the Cottonville Dam and its new power generation equipment, and., and; c) There was also a tour of Friendship Lake. The group drove down 11th Ave. and then met at the beach. I explained to the group the issues at hand regarding the Lake and the Dam ownership/permit controversy. Other Lake District members offered to provide support in trying to resolving the issues. One of the members suggested we look at the Town of Easton dam and how that came to be rebuilt. Since we felt we
It was asked, what does this group do? Bob and Linda noted that the group is made up of Lake District representatives from all over Adams County. They have meetings the second Saturday of every other month beginning in February at 9:00 am. They share issues each other have and resolve them together. They work with Wally Sedlar from Adams County Land & Water and will have extension workers, WDNR personnel, fish biologists, etc. come and speak at the meetings. A number of the members will attend the Lake Convention at Stevens Point. This lake protection voice is needed to compete with the Ag. Industry. The general public is invited to attend.
9. Update on sale of Friendship Dam:
- Report from Wally Sedlar, Adams County Land & Water
Bob Berry introduced Wally Sedlar. Under the previous agenda item someone asked, who generates the power at the Cottonville Dam? Wally reported that Chuck Pheiffer used to operate the power generation equipment but it is currently managed by a different company that has been in the power generation business for a while. This company made the upgrades to the dam adding turbines that all but replace the gates at no cost to the County. This company, though, gets the power generation revenue and gives a percentage to the county for allowing them to do this. Governor Walker changed the payout rates for electricity sold back to the utility. If the utility charges were, for example, $0.12/KWH they will only pay out $0.09 to buy it back. That is why the County went to this company as they were able tojust take over Chuck‘s contract with the utility and keep the higher rate. The updated equipment allows them to adjust the lake level via a smart phone from any location. No one has to physical raise and lower any gates. The speed of the turbines provide the adjustment. This company also owns dams in other parts of the state.
Carmen asked Wally what the County is doing for Friendship dam? Wally sated that the County does not own the dam. This dam is part of the waterway of the State and is controlled by the DNR. The County has 9 dams, with only the Cottonville dam with power generation equipment, that they purchase for $1 each but ended up putting a lot of money into fixing them. They will assist with some aspects of the purchase by someone else but will not spend a lot of time on this. Wally did look for appraisal companies but could not get one to come to Wisconsin - one company was on the West coast and the other was on the East coast. Carmen continued to suggest that the County take over the dam by eminent domain. The County with all the land should be able to take control. Wally added that dams are not cheap to run. It seems like they are always going out to bids to have something repaired/replaced on a dam. Friendship Dam, for example, has three reports he knows of that labels the dam as high hazard and that it would take $150,000 to $200,000 to fix. If it was up to him he would like the county to get out of the dam business.
There was a lot of discussion as to who owns the dam and who owns the permit. The DNR states that the Village still has the permit. According to the DNR, when the dam was sold to Chuck, the permit was not properly transferred and, even if the Village would have tried to, they could not as a municipality is not permitted to sell the dam to an individual - Chuck Pheiffer. Does this even matter? Well, if the Village has the permit, that means they have control of the dam but the Village does not want the dam. Some suggested that this is the fault of the Village for selling the dam and they should take responsibility. They should also consider the lost revenue without the dam. Chuck Spargo, Village trustee and District board member, stated that the Village is not interested in buying and operating the dam. They just can not afford it.
The Village, through their attorney and via a position paper written by Dennis McFarlin, have told the DNR that they do NOT own the permit. Since this is a Mill Dam, a DNR permit is not needed and the transfer without the permit was permitted. Bob and Chuck Spargo indicated that at the September 14th Village board meeting it will be proposed that they hire another attorney to once and for all convince the DNR that they do not own the permit relieving them of liability. Frances Schmidt, at a previous meeting, and Carmen Carpenter at this meeting noted that the Village could just go to an administrative judge to get a determination of whether they need the permit or not. According to Carmen the fee is only $600 to go that route. The only problem with this for the Village is, if the administrative judge says they do need the permit, that will not help the Village.
There was discussion about the role the DNR is playing with the Lake issue. Four or five years ago the DNR sent the District a nasty letter telling us to stay out of the critical habitat area with the weed harvesters. Chuck can lower the water and now it is OK? Won’t this affect the fish and their habitat? Wally said he can just contact the DNR requesting the lowering of the water and they can give permission. Can we have the DNR set a minimum water level based on historic levels and make Chuck raise the water to that level? There is no minimum level set by the DNR for this lake. Bob and Linda have talked to Meg Galloway at the DNR and she states that they do not have the personnel at this time to evaluate a request like that. And, you may end up with a level you do not like. Linda added that at the July 9, 2015 meeting with the DNR, the DNR stated that, if the dam is not get fixed, they will have to move towards ordering the removal of the dam. Rich Wieloch was not even sure the DNR wants the dam to stay.
Tom Steiskal made a motion that the board be permitted to spend more than $10,000 to resolve the issue not to exceed the amount in the Money Market Fund. Motion was seconded by Janet Boddy. During the discussion portion of the motion people asked were the money would be going? It was suggested that it would be used to hire an attorney. Which attorney and how do we know that that person would best represent us? Linda commented that an option could be attorney Paul Kent out of Madison that we have been in contact with on other District issues. His specialty deals with environmental issues and he would require a retainer of $3,000 with an hourly rate of $240 to $250 per hour. Paralegals would be $195 per hour. He may be hired initially to determine the permit status. Carmen asked, why we would we hire him if for $600 we could get an administrative judge to make that permit status determination. It should be noted, though, that the permit holder would have to appeal this and that would be the Village.
Bob called the motion to vote. By voice vote there were 2 Ayes and the rest were Nays. The motion failed.
- Status of Dam Appraisal
As noted previously, the County tried to find an appraisal company but could not find one that would come to Wisconsin. There was no further discussion. A question was posed, if we did get an appraisal and Chuck did not agree with it, what happens next? We already spent the money.
10. Reports on Activities from Land Owner Committees: Linda Moonan led with an explanation as to how the group was formed. It all started with a group of individuals that got together to discuss strategies to convince people in the area that the lake was needed. There was an initial June 9th meeting with a follow-up Planning and Informational meeting held on June 22 where five key points were developed to meet the goal of protecting Friendship Lake. Those five points are listed in the newsletter. At a subsequent July 14th meeting two property owner committees were formed and they are working on several projects. Betsy Vannettie leads the committee representing the Town of Preston and Pat Kierstyn leads the committee representing the Village of Friendship and the Town of Adams is consolidated within the two. The idea is to have more people promoting throughout the community the “Saving of Friendship Lake“.
Pat Kierstyn reported that one of the members put together a brochure. Her group has distributed this brochure throughout businesses in the area. They are promoting the idea of having people contact their representatives as the brochure has the contact information on it. When distributing these they are also in contact with individuals spreading the word. This brochure has been posted on the website as well.
Betsy reported the her team includes Linda Graf, Frances Schmidt and Carmen Carpenter. Their activities are: 1) Linda and Bill have been assembling and distributing “Save the Lake” signs throughout the community and has been sending letters to realtors.; 2) Frances has been sending letters to legislatures and has heard back from some. She also attends and speaks out at the Village of Friendship board meetings.; 3) Carmen has been in contact with John West, chair of the Adams County board. She has convinced him to have on the October 26, 2015 board meeting an agenda item that includes discussion regarding the Friendship dam. The meeting starts at 5:00 pm. and Carmen asks that we contact board members and attend this meeting., and; 4) Betsy has contacted numerous newspapers including the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The contact resulted in an article in the State Journal but the Journal Sentinel did not cover it. She has also written a letter to the town of Preston and their assessor regarding the impact on our property values. It was suggested that some of these letters be posted on the website. Larry will work with them on that.
11. Update on Lake Management Plan: There is nothing more to report on this subject.
12. Report on Weed Harvesting: Linda Moonan reported that it was decided at the July board meeting that, due to the low lake level, we would not harvest weeds this year at all. It was determined that it was not safe to put the equipment in the lake. Pictures of the lake were also shared at the meeting. There were even warnings at the boat landing put up by the Village of Friendship. The other issue is, if we could even get the harvester in the water, we could not get close enough to shore to unload the weeds onto the trailer to transport them to a disposal site. Rich Wieloch suggested that we just keep the lake the way it is so people can see how disgusting and unusable the lake is without the water at the normal level. Pictures of the lake as it looks now can be found in the Fall Newsletter.
13. Update on status of Weed Ramp: Bob Berry reported that it was decided at the last board meeting that we would not try to put the ramp in this year. There is a concern that, if it was installed before the winter, it might be damaged by potential frost heaving if the water is maintained at the lower level. The permit to install the ramp is good until 2017.
16. Any new business: None.
17. Future committee meeting dates (11-3-15, 1-5-16, 3-1-16, 4-5-16, 5-3-16, 6-7-16, 7-5-16, 8-2-16, 11-1-1): Larry Swaziek noted that the future meeting dates are as shown in the agenda. This is for informational purposes only and no action was needed.
18. Set date for next Annual Meeting (09-03-16): A motion was made and seconded to have the next annual meeting at 9:00 am on Saturday, September 3, 2016 at the Adams County Community Center, 569 Cedar Street, Adams, WI. The motion passed by unanimous vote. This will be the Saturday on Labor Day weekend which is the typical weekend the Annual Meetings are held.
19. Adjournment: A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was ended by a unanimous vote.
Respectfully submitted by,
Commissioner Larry Swaziek, Secretary