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Abby to receive $450K grant for 4th Ave. project

Abby to receive $450K grant for 4th Ave. project Abby to receive $450K grant for 4th Ave. project

After learning that the city will be awarded a $450,000 state grant to resurface North Fourth Avenue, Abbotsford’s elected officials voted last week to use $200,000 in TIF money to provide a local match for the 2021 project.

The grant comes from the Wisconsin DOT’s Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) program, which provides as much as 90 percent for local street project, up to $450,000. Abbotsford’s project was one of 44 across the state to receive funding for 2020-2021, according to a letter from the DOT.

Last month, the council voted to resurface at least two blocks of North Fourth Avenue next year, from Pine Street south to Hickory Street, and to also have Cedar Corporation engineers draw up plans for redoing the entire stretch south to Spruce Street.

The state grant will allow the entire stretch to be resurfaced, as DPW Craig Stuttgen has estimated it will cost about $600,000 to complete the project.

Cedar Corp.’s project timeline calls for bidding out the work next February, with construction starting in June and wrapping up at the end of July. After complaints about this year’s projects, Grady assured council members that next year’s road work would be done while school is not in session.

The proposal to use $200,000 in TIF money for the project was first reviewed and recommended by the planning commission on Nov. 18, and then approved by the city council the following night.

City administrator Dan Grady said the city’s TIF fund should have close to $460,000 available next year, even after it has made loan payments for previously completed projects.

Mayor Lori Voss said the city also needs to set some TIF dollars aside for a possible groundwater search in case more wells are needed in the future.

MSA Professional Services is currently working on a comprehensive study of the city’s water needs based on the current well system and future growth.

Following a required public hearing that no one showed up for, the council voted to adopt a $2.1 million general fund budget with a total property tax levy $918,864, an increase of $13,579 over 2020.

In addition to the general fund levy, the council adopted a tax levy of $847,177 for the city’s TIF districts. These are taxes collected on all new developments, such as the Northside Apartments, that have been built within inside one of the city’s two active TIF districts. Normally, this amount would be split among the Abbotsford School District, Clark and Marathon counties, Northcentral Technical College and the city’s general fund.

TIF taxes will increase by nearly $343,000 (68 percent) from 2020 to 2021 due to all of the new developments inside the city’s TIF districts.

_ The council voted 5-1 to choose a health insurance option for two city employees, Grady and library director Jenny Jochimsen, for next year. The city’s cost for covering 80 percent of the premiums will be $20,679, with the employees paying $5,169 for their 20 percent share.

The city will save about $8,200 by joining an insurance co-op next year instead of renewing its current plan. The option chosen by the council has a $1,000 deductible for single plans and $3,000 for family plans. If the council had chosen a plan with $2,000/$4,000 deductibles, the city’s savings would have been over $12,700.

Ald. Lori Huther said she spoke to both of the affected employees, and they preferred the lower-deductible plans. It was also noted that the cost of the chosen plan fits within the $20,800 for insurance included in the city’s 2021 budget.

Jochimsen also told the council directly that she would feel more comfortable with the lower-deductible plan, as the higher deductible was “a gamble.”

“If something does go wrong, you’re out of luck,” she said.

Ald. Jim Weix voted against the motion, saying he thought the council should have gone with the higher-deductible plans.

_ The council approved a $1,486 sewer credit for Abbotsford High School, to account for the thousands of gallons of water that recently leaked out of its pool but did not enter the city’s wastewater treatment system. Ald. Mason Rachu, the school district's maintenance supervisor, abstained from the vote because he was the one who applied for the credit.

_ The council retroactively approved the purchase of a fluoride pump, for $760, that had to be replaced at the Eau Pleine Water Treatment Plant. The pump had to be ordered and installed right away to keep the water treatment flowing.

_ The council approved the purchase of a new ExpressVote voting machine, for $3,482, using grant money provided by the state in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new machine is needed for the Marathon County side of the city.

_ The council approved $25 chamber of commerce gift certificates for all fulland part-time city employees as annual Christmas gifts.

_ The council tabled the appointment of members to the Abbotsford Housing Authority. The list of five board members included two with the same expiration date on what are supposed to be staggered five year terms. Ald. Jim Weix said he would clarify the board members’ correct terms before the council votes.

_ As a future agenda item, Ald. Brent Faber said he wants the council to discuss safety options for the intersection of West Spruce Street (Business 29) and North Fourth Avenue. Stop signs were added there last year, but he said heavy trucks and other vehicles regularly run right through them.

“I think somebody’s going to get killed at that intersection,” he said, also noting concerns about damage being done to the recently resurfaced roadway.

As part of a Safe Routes to School project in that area, Grady said flashing beacons will be installed at the intersection next year.

_ The council reviewed and approved a total of $764,094 in monthly bills and $16,777 in police department bills.