By Heather Graves
BELLEVUE – Village staff are taking steps necessary for safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while still providing residents with required services.
The village has suspended all in-person services, with the exception of voter registration, until further notice.
Village Administrator Diane Wessel urges residents to go to myvote.wi.gov to register to vote and/or request absentee ballots to eliminate the influx of residents coming into village offices.
The suspended services include:
• In-home inspections/services: Building inspections and regular appointments for water/utility services will not be offered at this time. Wessel said alternatives are being explored.
• Payment of utility bills: All bills need to be paid through the exterior drop box at 2828 Allouez Ave., through direct payment through a checking account, by phone at 877-885-7968 or online.
• Municipal court fees: Fees can be paid through the exterior drop box located at 3100 Eaton Road or online.
• Application for residential permits: All permits (not Uniform Dwelling Code – UDC) can be applied for online.
• Dog licenses: Applications and payment can be dropped off in the exterior drop box at 2828 Allouez Ave., or mailed. Spay/neutering documentation needs to be included. Licenses will be mailed to residents.
• Programs: All village programming is suspended.
For non-voting-related matters, residents are asked to call or email village staff to help accommodate their needs, if possible.
Measures are also being put in place to help staff, including purchasing additional software licenses to allow for remote computer access for staff.
“This will be especially important for critical staff who have school-aged children and no access to childcare,” Wessel said.
Staff will explore virtual conferencing capabilities, but it’s unlikely it would be used for board meetings.
“We may cancel meetings,” Wessel said. “At this time, we are not comfortable teleconferencing for meetings because we are concerned about meeting open meetings law regarding providing accommodation for people who do not have internet or are hard of hearing, etc.”
She said virtual conferencing would allow staff to work with auditors to complete the 2019 audit.
“They were scheduled to be in-house this week, but will not be due to the pandemic,” Wessel said. “We are seeking alternatives to in-person in order to complete our audit timely. It may also assist us in continuing other village business remotely.”
She said staff drafted an emergency closing policy for board consideration.
Stormwater utility rate increase approved
The board approved an increase to the stormwater utility rate for village residents at its meeting Wednesday, March 11.
The village established the stormwater utility in 2002 as a response to better control stormwater quantity and quality throughout the village.
At that time, the rate was established at $4 per month per ERU (equivalent residential unit), or $48 a year.
The rate has not changed since.
Following a yearly review, village staff said operating losses over the past several years have resulted in some years with more than $200,000 losses.
Staff attribute these losses to an increase in operations and maintenance costs, as well as the nearly 30 percent growth the village has seen since the stormwater utility was formed.
The board’s approval bumps the rate to $6 per month per ERU or $72 a year.
“The increase is necessary to maintain our facilities like they should be,” said Andy Rowell, director of Public Works.
Staff said the increase places the fees more inline with surrounding municipalities.
Board President Steve Soukup voted in favor of the increase, saying “we have to get out of the red.”
Trustee Dave Kaster voted against the increase, wanting for more details on what the utility funds can be used for.
Staff expect to see additional increases in the future as yearly operations and maintenance costs increase and new projects are designed and built.
The rate change will take effect with the April 1 billing cycle.