Another Trustee resigns in Arena, Board settles dispute that resulted in lawsuit

Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief

Arena faces two vacancies as another trustee resigns and as they settle a tax dispute that was previously taken up in court, during the Arena Village Board’s June 1 meeting.

The meeting again started with disagreement about the agenda, with Village President Kate Reimann motioning to remove an agenda item requested by Trustee Paul Pustina regarding the May 22 village sponsored brat fry held at The Crappie Shop. The brat fry was held to raise funds for an accessible fishing ramp for the pond at the village’s West Park.

Pustina shared that he had concerns about the potential that village funds were used for the brat fry. The brat fry was never taken up for action by the board. However, color flyers for the event featured the village’s logo.

“There was no village money used for that, it was all private donations on private property,” stated Reimann in moving forward with her motion. “So no taxpayer money was used for that item.”

The board struck Pustina’s agenda item to discuss the brat fry, with Reimann, trustees Kathy Stoltz and Charles Burch agreeing and Pustina being opposed, with trustee Rachel (Depouw) Maxwell being absent.

The board approved a motion to accept the resignation of Tami Erspamer as village trustee, with a term expiring April 2022. With this resignation, following the resignation of Jessica Voight in March and her seat being filled by Maxwell and Tara Hill declining to run for re-election in April, this leaves the village with two trustee vacancies, the other expiring in April 2023.

No interested candidates appeared at the meeting, with the board taking no action to appoint to fill the seats. Clerk DeNean Naeger suggested that interested residents contact Reimann and attend the next board meeting.

After some back and forth, with parties drowning each other out in discussion, the board approved an Amplified Device Permit extension of hours for Tara Hill to extend hours from 9pm to 11pm for an outside band for a wedding to be held on June 19 on commercial property on Sharon Street. The motion carried 3-1, with Pustina opposed, stating he was not in favor of the noise and increased traffic in a residential area.

The board heard from representatives of Johnson Block LLC regarding the village’s 2020 audit report. Johnson Block reported that the total fund balance was 18% in 2020, with policy requiring it to equal 20% of expenditures and allowing five years to improve. Tax revenues have increased 10% from 2018 to 2020.

The board concluded the meeting by going into closed session under Wis. Stat. 19.85 (1)(g): Conferring with legal counsel for the governmental body who is rendering oral or written advice concerning strategy to be adopted by the body with respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved, regarding an incorrect assessment alleged by village residents Christopher and Deana Toutz.

The Toutz’s claimed inaccurate assessment of property and asserted that the village did not provide written notice/appeal rights. The Toutz’s had received an omitted property tax bill for 2019 from Naeger of $5,858.30 that was accruing interest, despite the fact that the Toutz’s hadn’t owned the property in 2019.

Court records indicate that the lawsuit was dismissed on April 20 at the request of the plaintiffs, without prejudice, meaning the action could have been brought before the court again if there was no resolution.

The board approved a proposed settlement for the Prairie Street property for the 2019 omitted property tax bill with a tax value of $90,026 in the amount of $2,606.69. Further details of the settlement were not available at press time. This story will be updated online when the details become available.

Other actions taken by the board:

  • Cigarette Licenses for Jax Enterprises, III, and Crappie Shop, LLC
  • Class “A” Beer/“Class A” Liquor license renewal for Candy Parrell, DBA Crappie Shop, LLC, 300 Dalogasa Dr.
  • Class “A” Beer/“Class A” Liquor license renewal for Jax Enterprises III, DBA Arena One Stop, 300 Village Edge Rd.
  • Class “B” Beer and “Class B” Liquor License renewal for Ewing-Olson V.F.W. Post #9336, 514 Willow St.
  • Class “B” Beer and Quota Plus “Class B” Liquor License renewal for Mary Sawle, DBA Grandma Mary’s Café, 175 Hwy 14.
  • Accepted a bid from The Expediters, Inc in the amount of $13,604.10 for sanitary sewer cleaning and televising.
  • Approved Chicken Permit to Jamie White on South Street.
  • Approved sending a contractual agreement between WEDC and the Village to the Village Attorney for approval regarding the ACES Development at 314 Willow Street potentially receiving a $250,000 grant.
  • Approved a proposal by Ehlers to provide a comprehensive water and wastewater rate study for the Village at a cost of $18,500.
  • Approved Ordinance #2021-0601 Rezoning Lots 26-29, Hodgson’s Prairie, Arena from Business(B1-B2) to Two-Family Residential District (R-3).