Weekly Meeting Recap
HOWARD VILLAGE BOARD
Changes to the fire department could be on the horizon.
In response to a request from Trustee Craig McAllister, the Village Board heard an update on the fire department staffing situation at its Monday, May 9 meeting.
Chief Ed Janke said the department is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain firefighters to work on a paid-on-call basis.
Janke said in 2007, the department had 46 active members.
Today, it has 35 active members.
From 2019 to 2021, the department recruited 41 new members, and of those 41 new members, the department has retained 15.
“Really, the big issue right now that we’re most concerned about is recruiting for paid-on-call firefighters (POC),” Janke said. “We have actually had to change our staffing level from four firefighters to three firefighters at night, because we don’t have enough staff, which now is obviously much more of a safety concern for all of us. It also impacts our efficiency. During the day, we’re holding our own simply because we have staff in-house and we have that much tighter timeline to get apparatus out the door and we’re also hitting our mutual aid really hard.”
He said the department’s most recent recruiting period happened within the last two months.
“We received one applicant,” Janke said.
He said the department was facing a similar situation in 2007 when it went from pure volunteer to POC.
“I ended up taking a fire during the day, because there was nobody else in the station to handle it,” Janke said. “So I handled the vehicle fire all by myself, and then that got people thinking about maybe this is not okay for a community of our size. Now fast forward to 2022 and we’re having a hard time getting a second truck out at night.”
He said it is a problem many other communities of similar size are facing, with POC firefighting and full-time day jobs getting harder to balance.
“Really the only folks that we’re actually able to recruit right now are associate degree students that are looking for their first resume builder,” Janke said. “Every year, we’ll put on five or six, and then we lose nearly all of them to full-time fire departments around the State of Wisconsin.”
He said the village has grown significantly since 2007.
“When you look at how quickly the village has grown, our calls have gone up dramatically,” he said. “I think back to 2007, we were probably taking about 300 calls a year in total, and now we’re taking 1,200 calls a year. So the village is growing fast. Every time we put up a number of apartments and open up a residential housing area, so go the calls.
He said in the near future, the department and other village staff will be taking a hard look at what the next steps will be.
“Our facilities aren’t necessarily geared for career staff,” Janke said. “So it’s not only building facilities, but it’s also about how we’re going to manage our staffing going forward.”
Village Administrator Paul Evert said the village could see “them as problems, or you could see them as opportunities.”
“I think when we’re done with this, we’ll have something that you’ll be pretty pleased with,” Evert said. “We will have a positive, good solution to this problem.”
Special assessments on Evergreen
The board voted in favor of levying special assessments against benefited property on Evergreen Avenue from 200 feet east of Linden Lane to Glendale Avenue, with McAllister opposed.
Michael Kaster, director of engineering, said the project involves removal of existing pavements and drainage ditches and the installation of sanitary sewer and laterals, water services, storm sewer and laterals, curb and gutter, shared parking/bike lanes, sidewalks on both sides of the streets, concrete driveway apron installation and stormwater management.
He said there are 36 existing properties that will be assessed with this project.
Of more than $3 million in project costs, Kaster said fronting property owners will be responsible for around $750,398.51 or 24.5% of the total, with the village picking up the remaining $2,313,216.99 or 75.5%.
“The type a payment plan in the resolution before you is defined, as previously discussed similarly to last year’s project on Evergreen and Pinecrest, which includes a three-year deferral at no interest and then a 20-year payment plan at half a percent above the village borrowing at the time, which was 1.65% total interest for that,” Kaster said.
A public hearing was held before the vote, however, no one from the public spoke.
GREEN BAY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Facilities survey discussion
The School Board heard from Joe Donovan, from the Donovan Group, the firm who administered the districtwide facilities survey, during a work session Monday, May 9.
Roughly 3,400 community members responded, including 62 who completed it in Spanish, and Donovan said more than 60% of respondents felt satisfied with the Green Bay school district, while 76% felt well informed about the district’s decisions.
Donovan said there are a handful of main takeaways from the survey, which wrapped up at the end of last night.
He said there is strong support for a referendum across the board.
Donovan said according to the survey, more than 83% of respondents indicated that they would support a referendum to address deferred facility maintenance needs.
“These numbers and the responses looked a lot like they were when we’ve done previous surveys for the district,” he said. “So not a significant difference. I’m hoping that maybe this is the light that we’ve been looking for as it relates to getting past some of the turbulence that we’re seeing in districts where we do survey work.”
He also said the number of responses are consistent with the district’s 2016 and 2019 surveys.
“And I would say a very, very positive response to, again, the improvements that you’ve outlined,” he said.
The board said it will use the results of the survey as a resource as it discusses a potential facilities referendum in November.
Safe walk and bike report
Chad Jensen, the director of transportation for the district, presented the board with the annual safe walk and bike report.
“The vision of this group is to provide a couple options and empower our people to walk and bike in our community,” Jensen said. “So it’s not just for the school but it’s a collaborative effort between many different agencies.”
He said push buttons and countdown timers were added to seven signaled intersections along the West Mason corridor running from the Fox River to Interstate 41.
Jensen said four rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB) were also installed at the intersection of Baird and Stuart street near Washington Middle School, 9th Street and Gross Avenue near Beaumont Elementary, Dousman Street at Murphy Drive near Aspiro Special Needs School and North Irwin Avenue at Bay Beach Road, which help pedestrians safely cross the street.
Mike Stangel, executive director of facilities, walked the board through the facilities update.
Stangel said there is still a small amount of asbestos in some older floor tiles and pipe coverings throughout the district, which will need to be addressed if any renovations take place.
For 2022-23, he said the district’s main projects include:
• District-wide flooring repair
• Asphalt maintenance
• Masonry repair
• Roofing replacement at McAuliffe, Red Smith and Franklin
• Asphalt replacement at NEW School of Innovation/John Dewey Academy of Learning, Edison, Eisenhower, Southwest and Leonardo da Vinci
• Tennis court resurfacing at West
• Door replacement at Franklin and Washington
• Cafeteria floor replacement at Franklin and Washington
• Replacement of the air handler in the auto shop at the district office
• Renovations on the Welcome Center building
• Stangel also announced he is retiring as of July 1
The board discussed reinstating the general student fees for the 2022-23 school year, which have been on pause for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Angela Roble, chief financial officer said the reinstatement would bring about $500,000 into the general fund on an annual basis.
Roble said most fees can be waived for students who receive free or reduced lunch, however, she said some are unwaivable, such as transcripts, activity passes and parking fees.
The board will discuss a potential amendment at its meeting later this month that would waive additional fees.
Press Times Editor Heather Graves and Intern Kat Halfman contributed to these briefs.