Ellsworth will have new newsletter
By Melissa Thorud
ELLSWORTH – At the Monday, Dec. 6 Ellsworth Village Board meeting, the board approved a plan for a quarterly newsletter and gave an update on the comprehensive plan. Also discussed was the potential hiring of a construction manager for the library project and higher wages for village staff.
The meeting began with approval of and renewal of insurance plans for village employees, as well as the approval of going forward in selecting an auditor for the 2021 audit. Other items that were immediately approved were previous meeting minutes, payments and extension of two ordinances.
The two ordinances include #694, extending the sunset date of an ATV and UTV route and the other is #695, extending the sunset date on reduction of residential and commercial impact fees.
Next the board discussed the issue of hiring a construction manager for the new library project. The Library Board had discussed the idea at their own meeting after village trustees suggested it, and decided there is no need for a construction manager at this time. They decided it would not be beneficial to them at this stage of the project.
The board had mixed feelings about this. Trustee Andrew Borner said, “I think if you are put in charge of running this project as a board member you are stepping over your bounds and you are doing a job that is not required.”
However, Administrator Clerk-Treasurer Nicole Stewart disagreed.
“My concern is when the bids come in, who is going to oversee them for accuracy?” she asked. “If something comes up in the project that is a big issue, there is only so much that public works will be able to do, but who is our person is my question?”
After much discussion, the board felt the issues stem from lack of efficient communication between the library and village boards during the project, and that this needs to be improved upon on both ends.
Library Board member Sharon Hofmeister was in attendance and added insight for the board during the meeting.
“We didn’t feel at this time that we would benefit from a construction manager, but rather that we need communication to keep happening and to keep moving the project forward,” Hofmeister said.
Overall, the village did not decide to hire a construction manager at this time because of the library board's decision and the communication issue needing to be sorted so that the project can move forward.
“We need to keep moving our project forward, the community has put a tremendous amount of money into our fundraising and we don’t want to stall out on that and we need to be able to deliver the product to them and that is imperative at this point in time,” added Hofmeister.
The board moved on to discuss committee mission statements that will be available on the village website in the coming weeks. They also unanimously approved and discussed a mutual aid agreement for public works, so the village can lean on neighboring cities in times of emergencies.
The board also approved a budget resolution. Stewart explained the goal of this resolution was to “clean” the budget and to make it more organized and easier to understand for future boards to look back on.
Board President Becky Beissel gave an update on the Comprehensive Plan, which will be determined based on community feedback.
“This will be based on community feedback, and you will be seeing a lot of community surveys starting at the end of January,” she said.
In addition to the Comprehensive Plan being a way for the community to stay informed, the board decided it will send out quarterly newsletters to residents with utility bills, to keep them informed on happenings within the village.
“I think this is very important,” said Trustee Michael Steele. The meeting wrapped up with multiple reports from committees. Standing out was the Salary and Labor report which detailed the raise in wages for employees, including law enforcement officers and other village staff. All non-union employees (minus the new public works director) will receive a 2.5% wage increase. Police Chief Eric Ladwig will receive the 2.5% increase, as well as a $2 per hour raise. All part-time staff will receive a 50-cent per hour wage increase. The goal of raising wages is to ensure retention and align more with today’s environment.