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Seeking growth

Seeking growth Seeking growth

With land committed, city seeks to attract developer for project

A plan to develop unused city-owned land in the industrial park for apartments as part of a federal and state affordable housing program moved forward Tuesday night.

Aldermen approved designating a 4.4 acre parcel on Progressive Avenue for a Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) Tax Credit Program Development. The land is located just to the north of Northcentral Technical College and across the road from Marathon Cheese.

Under the WHEDA program, developers can receive tax credits for building qualified affordable housing developments. Any development would then go on the local tax rolls increasing the tax base.

According to city coordinator Joe Harris, the next step in the process is for the city to invite developers to submit proposals. Harris has been in contact with Antigo and Chetek, other cities that have used the program. Council commits industrial land for affordable housing development

Harris said in those communities the council members interviewed between two and four developers before deciding which one to use. He said the council is free to choose whichever developer they prefer rather than it being a bidding situation.

Whichever developer the council selects would be responsible for submitting the application and information in order to seek to qualify for the highly competitive program. Mayor Mike Wellner said the plan is for the developers, who have experience with the program, to do that legwork.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” said alderman Mike Bub, agreeing with Wellner.

As part of the plan, if the city is successful in obtaining the tax credits, the city will install sidewalks to the development.

Crosswalk project

A plan to install pedestrian-activated flashing crosswalk signs at four intersections along Hwy 64 in the city is on track to be completed by summer 2021. On Tuesday, aldermen gave final approval to the project with the city committing to spending the money needed to complete it supplemented by any donations or grants the Medford Morning Rotary Club is able to provide.

At last week’s committee of the whole meeting, aldermen had approved the city paying for the whole project, noting that as a public safety issue it is the city’s responsibility.

The Rotary Club, which spearheaded the project and developed the proposal for the project, contacted Harris this week saying they would still like to be part of the project.

Alderman Laura Holmes suggested that if the club was able to raise funds they could sponsor additional crosswalks in the future. Wellner said the club would like the recognition of being involved with these crossing signs.

Alderman Greg Knight said that if the group wanted to do fundraising for it, they should be allowed to and if they are successful it will save the city money.

In other business, council members:

_ Approved reappointing the city members to the Medford Area Fire Commission and the Room Tax Commission and designating the mayor as the city’s board member on the Spectrum Employer Business Cooperative Board. As a member of the healthcare cooperative, the city has one vote on the board, rather than reappointing it, whoever is serving as mayor will have that spot.

_ Approved appointing Ashley Lemke as the new city clerk to replace Virginia Brost who will be retiring from the position she has held since 1992. Brost has a total of 40 years of service to the city and will stay on in an administrative support role for the next year to help with the transition. Lemke’s appointment as clerk takes effect on January 1.

_ Approved the annual increase in the public works labor charges charged to other departments and the public. The rate increased from $58.63 per hour $60.10 per hour for work charged to outside parties and from $42.83 per hour to $43.90 per hour for work done for other city departments. This reflects the increase in the actual cost of wages and benefits for city public works employees.

_ Approved having the city coordinator and electric utility manager to continue to explore future capacity opportunities with Great Lakes Utilities. The city is a founding member of the utility consortium and it is exploring electric generation possibilities.

_ Approved purchasing a new one-ton service truck with the truck from Wheeler’s Chevrolet and the body and crane from Monroe for a combined price not to exceed $68,000.

_ Approved foregoing the rent paid by the Medford Area Chamber of Commerce for the use of the cityowned building. In making the motion, Holmes praised the Chamber for the work it does in promoting the local business community and encouraged everyone to shop at local stores this year especially in the downtown.

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Judge Ann Knox-Bauer (right) officially swore in new Medford City Clerk Ashley Lemke (left) during Tuesday’s city council meeting. Lemke replaces longtime clerk Virginia Brost who is retiring after 40 years with the city. Brost will stay on through 2021 in a support role to assist with the transition.BRIAN WILSON/THE STAR NEWS