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Neillsville City Council Discusses Property Development

Friday, January 28th, 2022 -- 10:00 AM

The Neillsville City Council discussed a development with Lisenby Properties and Tax Financing District #4.

City Attorney Bonnie Wachsmuth reviewed the list of requested changes received from Council Member Julie Counsell after the last meeting. Wachsmuth contacted Mark and Lynda Lisenby, since they had already signed the Development Agreement between the City of Neillsville and Lisenby Properties, LLC for Tax Incremental Financing District #4 and they had problems with some of the proposed changes.

Wachsmuth stated after looking at the list-overall a lot of the requested changes pertain if this was a loan instead of a grant. The TIF District taxes pay for grant funds, it is not based on their ability to repay. The Agreement has a provision that it can’t be sold or assigned to a non-profit.

The members of an LLC themselves do not matter for the City being paid back. The LLC has to pay their taxes. In regards to maintenance of the property, do you mean interior or exterior? The City has ordinances that cover or they can be fined.

In regards to insurance, there is no problem if the City receives notice of proof of insurance or if there is a change. However, the City cannot be listed as an additional insured since there is no loan. Knowing the members, litigation or assignment, the City cannot give permission for a membership change.

They could add wording for conveying, assigning or transferring to a non-profit. Lynda Lisenby, Property Manager for Lisenby Properties, stated they have a few concerns regarding the language on selling or conveying the property.

They are working on succession planning which may add members to the LLC. They need flexibility to plan for business changes. Lisenby stated that it is to their benefit to keep the property in very good shape, maintaining both inside and outside. They have done so with other rentals in Clark County.

Lisenby stated their insurance will be changing during this project-starting with 1031 exchange money. They will be signing their mortgage which requires significant insurance coverage starting with a construction policy transitioning to a regular policy.

Mark Lisenby stated the Agreement has a payback penalty included for $50,000.00 per year for the next ten years. Council Member Counsell stated the last meeting was the first time she saw the document and she had questions. This is a half million dollars of taxpayer money.

Lynda Lisenby stated that the City coming forward with this amount of money is making the project. Construction costs have skyrocketed, the cost for steel studs is going through the roof. Doing this conversion brings the property on the tax roll.

Mark Lisenby stated they are keeping millions of dollars in your community, using local contractors, and will be adding 200-250 residents to the community. They have been receiving a lot of inquiries from people over 55.

City Attorney Wachsmuth proposed adding the words-convey, assign or transfer and whenever insurance coverage changes. In the end, they Council approved the Development Agreement between the City of Neillsville and Lisenby Properties, LLC for Tax Incremental Financing District #4 with the two changes.

The council then approved having open houses at the new City Hall and Police Department on Sunday, March 13th from 1 P.M to 4 P.M. The Council also revisited the Operator’s License for an employee at a gas station in Neillsville.

Chief of Police Jim Mankowski stated he did a cursory check and an in-depth review, and the employee has a 14-year criminal history and his recommendation is to not issue the license based on the crimes and amounts of time. He says it is not in the community’s best interest.

Council Member Council made a motion to deny the license based on the long criminal history, not being in the community’s best interest, and not putting her in the situation where she might be tempted.

Council Member John Perrine stated that he doesn’t know the individual, but what can the City lose? She would be the only one to lose if it doesn’t work out. She is on probation, has a boss to supervise her, give her a second chance and watch her.

Chief Mankowski stated he agrees with second chances, but, looking at the conviction record, it is not a risk he is willing to take. The City would be out a lot of labor if she creates a crime and the license is not just for one facility, she can work any place in town.

Council Member Joe Neville stated he is torn on this one, she is an addict in need of a second chance, but he can not disregard the Chief’s recommendation. The individual stated that her private life is being dissected in public.

Mayor Diane Murphy stated if she were hiring at her business and that person had a license from the City, she would hire the person and not know the difference. Council Member Dave Harnisch stated he supports giving her a second chance.

That is what the Police are there for, to investigate if a crime occurs. There is a manager there supervising and he is very frustrated with this Council. Council Member Counsell stated that it is not just her that can be hurt, the customer can be hurt, this is why we have a review process.

City Attorney Wachsmuth stated from a legal aspect-if the Council approves a license over the recommendation to deny, if something goes wrong, the City could be sued, because they knew. Council Member Neville stated that is why we have the process.

Council Member Perrine asked if there was some way to divide the license, since she would only be selling packaged goods, not serving? City Attorney Wachsmuth replied no, it is not setup that way by the statutes.

Council Member Harnisch stated that her probation officer doesn’t have a problem with her getting a license as the sale of liquor is not the business’ primary purpose. Chief of Police Mankowski stated he tried contacting the probation officer three times with no response. In the end, the license was denied with three voting to deny it and 2 voting not too.

The Council also had a closed session scheduled, but there was some dispute over that. Mayor Murphy announced a closed session for the purpose of deliberating or negotiating the purchase of public properties, the investing of public funds, or the conducting of other specified public business, as long as competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session in regard to City Development.

Council Member Counsell called a point of order as this agenda item is too vague for the open meetings law. It doesn’t tell what it is about and they have not received anything. Why did it not go to the Planning Commission first?

The Mayor vetoed an almost identical discussion and action on the dog park. How is City Development anymore than the dog park? City Attorney Wachsmuth agreed that City Development is vague, in the beginning a lot of business is confidential and doesn’t want it out in public.

There is no intent to take any action. Council Member Neville stated they want to give the Council information. Council Member Clough stated they should go into closed session to learn what it is.

Mayor Murphy stated no action is required; the information is beneficial to inform the Council Members. The Council approved going into closed session.

The Council then heard the various reports and updates. Neillsville Fire Chief Matt Meyer reported on the Fourth Quarter 2021:

  • The Fireman’s annual steak feed served 1,019 adults;
  • He attended a City budget meeting;
  • Held fire prevention week activities for Kindergarten classes, Ehlen’s Daycare and St. John’s school;
  • Attended an Emergency Services Association meeting in Spencer;
  • Provided crossing guards for the Smiling for Samuel Fun Run;
  • Had an ISO insurance audit;
  • Assisted in moving records from the old City Hall to the new City Hall;
  • Did community service fall clean up for retired firemen and widows;
  • Provided crossing guards for Halloween Trick-or-Treat;
  • Applied for a DNR 50/50 grant for a creek pump;
  • Provided a truck to take Santa Claus to the tree lighting;
  • Burnt the City brush pile;
  • Attended Community Fire Hall and Rural Fire Association meetings;
  • And the Firemen purchased and donated an enclosed trailer to haul the specialized rescue equipment (grain bin, water, ice rescues).

The Department responded to 20 calls:

12-Rural:

  • 1 smoke detector,
  • 1 ATV accident,
  • 2 electric pole,
  • 1 smoke in home,
  • 1 two vehicle accident,
  • 3 mutual aid calls,
  • 2 structure,
  • 1 vehicle accident;

8-City:

  • 3 lift assist,
  • 1 vehicle accident,
  • 3 gas odor,
  • 1 faulty alarm.

The City’s trucks are in good condition; however, the 1978 International is 43 years old and cannot pass the pump test, the 1995 Freightliner is 26 years old.

Chief of Police Mankowski reported on:

  • Attending a Body-Worn Camera Policy Training;
  • Personnel is back to square one for the full-time positions, both candidates declined, Nicholas Spanske will start training as a part-time officer;
  • Squad car maintenance;
  • December citations, complaints, business check and activities.

Mayor Murphy stated:

  • That she will be holding office hours on the first and third Tuesdays of the month beginning February 1, 2022;
  • Reported on hosting the United Communities of Clark County meeting with 69th Assembly Representative Donna Rozar as speaker-a main concern of all the municipalities is lack of police officers and trying to help the police departments;
  • Meeting with OEM representatives and Sheila Nyberg, Clark County Economic Development Corp and the need for housing;
  • And discussion with Lisenby’s on promoting their apartment to the industrial park businesses.
  • City Clerk Roehl reported that the Wisconsin Department of Revenue has certified the base value for the City of Neillsville Tax Incremental District #4 at $6,430,400.00 for 2021.

Council Member Neville reported on the January 13, 2022 meeting of the Heritage Days Committee regarding:

  • Financial report;
  • Discussion and updates on bands;
  • Discussion on advertising signs and banners;
  • Discussion on tents;
  • And discussion on theme and Grand Marshall for 2022.

Council Member Counsell reported on the January 18, 2022 meeting of the Library Board regarding:

  • Librarian’s reports;
  • The new printer has been installed;
  • Librarians have attended the Library Conference;
  • Discussion on the Library Director’s annual review;
  • And updates on donation and carryover funds.

Council Member Clough reported on the January 25, 2022 meeting of the Commission on Public Works/Utilities regarding:

  • Current activities;
  • Receiving a Notice of Tax-Deed Property sale from Clark County on the former Andrea Mehner property at 209 W. Tenth Street;
  • And payment of bills.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.