By Bob Peryea

Correspondent

 

Following last Monday night’s Elkhorn City Council meeting, Mayor Howie Reynolds, in an interview with the Independent, said that he would not run for re-election as mayor during this spring’s elections.

“It’s been 14 years in government, 10 as an alderman and four as mayor,” Reynolds said. “I don’t think that this is meant to be a (lifetime) job.”

Reynolds indicated that he felt it was important that there be new people leading with new ideas.

Reynolds will finish out his term, which will end in April, after a new mayor is elected. No candidates have officially declared their intention to run for mayor.

In news from the City Council meeting, a compromise deal with Witte Supply Company, 230 S. Wisconsin St., did not please many of the area residents that showed up to the meeting to voice their concerns.

The company, which will sell outdoor landscaping supplies, may impact the quality of life in the historic district, according to several speakers.

Steve Ingram, one of the residents, expressed that his greatest concern was the noise on Saturday mornings.

The council agreed to allow Witte to stay open until 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays.

The council also moved to require Witte to plant mature pine trees on one side of the lot, pave part of the lot and install a commercial sprinkler system to keep dust under control. There can be no trucks over six wheels on the property after 5 p.m.

Traffic onto the former Cooperative Plus site will not be allowed on the Wisconsin Street side. The gate there will only be used for emergency vehicles.

The council reminded the residents and Dennis Witte of Witte Supply that the city’s nuisance ordinance would still be available to remedy any future concerns, should any arise.

In other council news, the council voted to put into place a Sex Offender Residency Ordinance.

The ordinance would prevent a registered sex offender from living within 2,000 feet of a school, day care, church, pool, bus stop, or other locations where children gather.

In earlier conversations with Alderman Brian Olson, said a restriction of this size would effectively ban registered sex offenders from the City of Elkhorn.

Similar ordinances around the state have restricted zones ranging from 500 feet to 2,500 feet, with an average being roughly 1,000 to 1,500 feet, according to records.

The final language for the ordinance will be read at the Council’s July 15 meeting.

The Council also approved the language of the upcoming pool referendum, with some changes still to be made.

Members of the Council were emphatic that the language states the referendum is advisory only. This would mean that regardless of the results of the citizens’ votes, the council will make the final decision as to whether they feel the city can afford a new aquatic facility or not.

The language will also indicate that any monies borrowed might increase property tax rates over the approximately ten-year life of any loan. The amount of the increase would depend on many different factors and cannot be accurately predicted.

“Isn’t it assumed that if you vote for a $3.5 million pool, that your taxes might go up? Alderman Jim D’Alessandro asked.

It was felt that it would be prudent to emphasize this potential impact for voters.

“This will have an impact on your taxes. It will be spread across the tax roll,” alderman Hoss Rehberg said.

The council also voted to put forth a formal request of the Chamber of Commerce for a complete accounting of the chamber’s use of their portion of the room tax that is collected in Elkhorn.

D’Alessandro had expressed his desire to see a complete budget when initial city budget talks for 2014 began.

On Monday night, the council formalized their request, but did not indicate precisely how they would notify the chamber or what criteria they would use to judge the use of the money.

In addition, the council also put a formal request to the mayor to provide the council and the constituents with detailed documentation of the budget and of the state of the city.

The council cannot compel the mayor to do so, but can only request that he does.

A $10,000 increase in the fire chief’s salary was approved and will take effect on Aug. 1. The entirety of the prorated 2013 increase will be paid by the City of Elkhorn.

As of Jan. 1, 2014, the other municipalities that the Elkhorn Fire Department serves, including Sugar Creek, will be asked to pay more than 50 percent of the salary increase.

The Elkhorn Police Department will hold a hearing regarding a complaint filed by the city against the owners of the Redroom, 411 E. Court St. The hearing will be held on July 8 at 6 p.m.

 
 

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