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Cadott Village Board - Ongoing fire meter issue needs to be resolved

Ongoing fire meter issue needs to be resolved Ongoing fire meter issue needs to be resolved

Cadott Fire Chief Rick Sommerfeld asked the Cadott Village Board April 1, to consider what can be done to reduce the department’s annual expenses for a water meter. The 4-inch meter is used exclusively for fire protection, but comes with a $5,000 bill each year. Photo by Ginna Young

By Ginna Young

A water meter at the Cadott Fire Department has caused some tension within the fire district, as the meter is draining their coffers. The matter has been ongoing for a number of years, and it’s reached the point where the department and the Village of Cadott want it settled.

Fire chief Rick Sommerfeld shared his frustration, with the village board April 1, discussing the 4-inch water meter. The meter fills the tankers with water when the firefighters get back from a call, as they must flush out river water, because if it sits, it gets rancid.

“We use it strictly for fire protection,” said Sommerfeld. “Some months, we don’t use any water.”

The bill for the meter comes to more than $400 a month, just to have it there, not counting the usage rates, or the separate general water meter that serves the kitchen and bathrooms of the fire building. Bart Chapek, village trustee, suggested they go to a 2-inch meter, but Sommerfeld is concerned that will slow down the flow rate and take a very long time to refill the trucks. He did mention that maybe the department could fill the trucks through the nearby hydrants, but Jeremy Kenealy, public works director, thought it was not good to fill up at the hydrant in the dark.

Trustee Les Liptak asked if Sommerfeld checked into what other departments do and Sommerfeld said some have meters, some don’t, while some have smaller size meters. It was agreed that the village and Sommerfeld will be in touch with the Public Service Commission (PSC), who regulates meters, about what can be done to help reduce the yearly fire department bill and to work on the issue.

“It’d be nice to come up with a plan,” said Chapek.

The board also heard from Max Spaeth, senior account executive VC3, about the challenges the village faces with SCADA systems and false alarms that come along with that. VC3 has a managed essentials response system, monitoring the village 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, even on weekends and holidays.

If an employee needs to for IT help, they can call, email or chat with real VC3 employees, not a call center. “We’re the largest IT provider for municipalities in North America,” said Spaeth.

As one of the benefits of VC3, they install a system that blocks employees from accidentally going to a “malicious” website, with training on both sides, so the village employees know what to impart for help, but also, so VC3 employees can give that help by being familiar with the village.

They also provide road mapping and budgeting for when a system needs replacement.

Of course, that all comes with a price tag – one of $2,077.18, per month, as well as a one-time set-up fee and an hourly rate, if a visit on-site was needed. However, Spaeth said about 90-95 percent of issues can be resolved through online help.

By having VC3, that eliminates the middle man, which has been village employees. While the cost is something to consider, Eric Weiland, village trustee, pointed out that if the village gets hacked, they’ll pay far more trying to fix everything.

“If you really look at what we’re getting though, it really isn’t,” said Weiland.

It was decided to wait for more references from other municipalities provided by VC3 and to pick the matter back up after that.

The board did agree to address repairs at the north water tower, as the No. 2 screening over vents is no longer good enough; the DNR now requires a No. 4 screen. The access hatch springs are also sprung, making it difficult to close and the gasket around the top is missing.

In addition, the south tower screen mesh roof vent is no longer DNR compliant and comes with a $9,500 estimate. A full drain of that tower is planned in two years, and the DNR said the repair can wait until then, but it was up to the board if they wanted to fix both the water towers at once.

“Two years from now, how much is it going to cost?” asked trustee Terry Licht.

Chad Schuebel, lead wastewater operator, agreed with the general feeling that the cost will go up.

“It’s going to have to get done, no matter what,” he said.

Brian Chapman, with Cedar Corp., mentioned that they could file an intent to apply (ITA), so it is ready whenever the village wants to apply for funding through the DNR for a Safe Drinking Water Grant. If they receive the grant, that would pay for part, or all, of the repairs.

Trustees approved updates to the north tower and to hold off on the south tower for the time being.

They also approved a contract with Cintas, for village office rug cleaning and employee uniforms. They currently use Huebsch Services, but it would mean a $765 difference in savings, with Cintas changing out uniforms each year, instead of every five to six.

“We’d be saving some money and be getting a little bit more through Cintas,” said clerk April Bruhn.

Chapman also wanted to put out there, that the county is planning a paving project along County Hwy. X, in 2025, and that the village’s portion of the work for curb and sewer would be upward of $1 million.

“We need to get that on the radar what we want to do moving forward on that,” said Chapman.