**This Letter to the Editor was submitted by Mount Pleasant resident Kelly Gallaher.
Tonight the Mt. Pleasant Village Board of Trustees will meet. Under “New Business” the board will consider:
“Preliminary Resolution 2-2016 Declaring Intent To Exercise Special Assessment Powers Under Section 66.0703, Wisconsin Statutes, For Water And Sanitary Sewer Improvements Along CTH “V” In The Village Of Mount Pleasant , Racine County, Wisconsin.”
That is a long description which basically means the board is going to decide how they are going to pay for the water and sewer service that will connect to a development project in Caledonia.
You may have heard about the project. It has been a controversy in Mt. Pleasant ever since residents on Hwy V (whose property the sewer and water pipes will travel through) discovered last year that Mt. Pleasant Village officials amended the contract with Caledonia. They made it cheaper for Caledonia and changed the kind of sewer system running through Mt. Pleasant.
This change resulted in unprecedented assessments of nearly $90 per foot to be billed to Mt. Pleasant residents on Hwy V, who never asked for sewer and water in the first place. When the contract with Caledonia was amended last year, the Village Board of Trustees voted on it in open session, but never told the public what was in the amendment. Residents had to file a legal “open records” request just to find out what had been voted on by their own elected officials.
To say they were surprised would be a giant understatement.
As this project has rolled forward, residents registered their complaints furiously at every public meeting. No one in the village has ever come forward to say it is a good project and good for the residents – never, not even once.
Why? Because this is a project for development in Caledonia not Mt. Pleasant.
With many local news reports and letters in local press, it is important to remember these giant assessments have only been proposed – that is until tonight, when the Village Board will vote on it officially.
Hwy V resident, Don Schulz, who has run his family’s farm his whole life is facing assessments of over $300,000. A young couple, with their first baby on the way, purchased and moved into their first home on Hwy V, found out a few weeks later they were going to be assessed nearly $50,000.
More than 60 families in Mt. Pleasant will be billed tens of thousands of dollars for a development project in Caledonia that Village Trustees amended to make cheaper for another municipality, placing the cost on the backs of our own residents. They aren’t even making them hook up to it – just pay for it.
They don’t have to do it.
The Village Board of Trustees could vote tonight to borrow the cost – just like they do for roads and other infrastructure projects. They can spread the cost out over a number of years with a tax levy that is cheap and fair – just like they already did for the Hwy 20 sewer and water extension. They can even transfer the cost of sewer and water improvements to future developers.
But they won’t. They will force their own residents to pay, and it is wrong.
In the last Village Board of Trustees meeting when the trustees went into closed session to discuss the assessments with legal council, one trustee told a Hwy V resident if he came out of closed session holding a tube of anal lubricant, he would know the discussion hadn’t gone favorably for residents. The trustee thought it was funny.
There is nothing funny about this. With an primary election just a few weeks away, trustees who vote in favor of assessing Hwy V residents for Caledonia’s development tonight should be removed from office on February 16th in the primary election.
Anna Marie Clausen and Rick McCluskey voted “yes” to to the amendment and “yes” to move this project forward in spite of the objections of their own residents. They are on the ballot in two weeks against capable and sincere candidates who will always listen to residents first.
Should Clausen and McCluskey decide once again tonight to vote against the people of Mt. Pleasant, they must be held accountable. Too much is at stake tonight to be wrong.
Mt. Pleasant, WI
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