September 12, 2013
The Verona PressConnectVerona.com
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Girard joins UNG staff
Scott Girard has joinedthe staff of Unified News-paper Group.Graduating in May2013, the Madison nativerecently served as editor-in-chief of the Universityof Wisconsin-Madison’sDaily Cardinal. He alsointerned for the Isthmus, aMadison weekly publica-tion, in summer of 2012.At UNG, he will fill avariety of roles, most nota-bly covering education inVerona and business inall four of UNG’s com-munities– Verona,Oregon,Stoughtonand Fitch-burg.GirardsucceedsSethJovaag,who is leav-ing the company this week after more than seven yearscovering education to pur-sue freelance opportunities.
City of Verona
Council beginsbudget talks
Verona Press editor
Verona has a mostly newCommon Council this yearand an emerging economyoffering all sorts of newrevenue and spendingpotential.That leaves alders with alot to consider as they work out the city’s budget overthe next two months. Andthe process begins in ear-nest Monday, with a budgetkickoff meeting at VeronaCity Center.Much of the work on thebudget is done behind thescenes by finance directorCindy Engelke, city admin-istrator Bill Burns and otherstaff, and then the three-alder Finance committeetakes charge once the num-bers get more concrete.But all of the above willbe attempting to follow thepriorities and directives of the council majority start-ing next week.The first step in the pro-cess is a general overviewof the city’s challengesand opportunities – such asincreasing costs, staffingrequests from needy depart-ments and revenue fromthe state and other sources,such as building permits.Alders must also considerthe priorities and intereststhey have gleaned from dis-cussions with constituents,long-term debt implicationsand looming changes in thecity’s resources, such asthe closure of the Epic tax-increment financing districtin two years and the cost of making the fire departmentinto a city entity next year.After Burns and Engelkeoutline the existing issuesfor the council, they will beseeking direction on howmuch alders might be will-ing to spend, what sort of priorities they’ll have andeven the process itself.For example, while levylimits are typically a veryreal limitation problem formost municipalities, theyhave been more perceivedthan tangible for Veronain recent years, as the cityhas carryover capacity fromprior years’ debt spending.Instead, the real issue issimply how much they feelcitizens are willing to havetaxes increase – a numberthat has ranged from zeroto roughly 5 percent for thepast several years.And while city taxes areonly part of the budget, theyhave to consider the largerpicture and how much tax-payers will feel the cumula-tive effect of increases fromall taxing jurisdictions.Given the large numberof new alders, it also wouldnot be surprising if theyhave priorities that have nottypically been addressed oremphasized in prior years.Or if they wanto to adjustthe finance committee-heavy process – whichdoesn’t return discussionsto the larger body until theweek before budget pas-sage.As Burns put it Mon-day night, it’s about“big-picture policy issues.”The smaller picture hasplenty of important details,too, however.For one thing, the city’slevy limit will reflectVerona’s enviable growth– a significant increasein total property values –but because much of thatincrease will come fromconstruction that is in a tax-increment financing district(at Epic) it will thereforebe inaccessible to the city’sgeneral funds. That meanseven if it limits tax increas-es to “net new construc-tion,” the city can spend farmore than the city’s growthwill pay for.Another issue alders willdiscuss is compensationand benefits, something thatpreviously was determinedby collective bargainingagreements. Burns saidMonday that health costsare expected to rise around10 percent this year. Andthe city will look at wagesfor positions in comparablecommunities this year.As always, there arepotential increases in staff-ing. Among the expectedrequests are one or morelibrary positions – some-thing library director BrianSimons’ hinted at stronglyMonday as he discussedVerona’s “Library of theYear” award – as well asfor police (based on thedepartment’s strategic plan)and public works/utilities.If there are no changes tothe budget process, depart-ment heads will likely pres-ent their budget proposalsin early October, then theFinance committee will sortout priorities later in themonth and decide on a finalproposal that will be pub-lished in the
in November. Historically,the council has discussedthe proposal in a non-tele-vised Committee of theWhole meeting the Mondaybefore Thanksgiving andthen repeated the presenta-tion the following week,passing the budget with fewor no changes.That process varies fromcity to city, with somemunicipalities involvingtheir own council (or vil-lage board) further into theprocess either formally orinformally and some evencutting out the Financecommittee altogether andentertaining a seeminglyendless series of amend-ments at the council level.Monday’s meeting isheld in a Committee of theWhole format, so it willnot be televised or postedonline.
If you go
City budget kick-off discussion
6 p.m. Monday
Verona CityCenter, 111 Lincoln St.
Deputies seek hit-and-run driver
Dane County Sheriff’sdeputies are looking fora driver that struck andinjured a bicyclist Tuesdaymorning in the Town of Verona.According to a newsrelease from the sheriff’soffice, the bicyclist was trav-eling eastbound on Hwy. PDnear Country View Road atapproximately 7:20 a.m.,when a blue sedan, pos-sibly a Nissan, clipped theman with the passengerside mirror of the vehicle.The vehicle will have vis-ible damage to the passengerside.The impact threw the58-year-old man from hisbike. Witnesses stopped tohelp him, and he was latertransported by EMS to alocal hospital with non-life threatening injuries.Anyone with informa-tion on the driver or theblue sedan is asked to callthe Dane County tip line at284-6900 or leave a tip atdanesheriff.com.
VASB approves teacher deal
The Verona Areaschool board unanimouslyapproved a new contractwith the Verona Area Edu-cation Association, as wellas wage proposals withnon-union support person-nel and administrators atits meeting Monday.The biggest change in thenew contract will increasea starting teacher’s sal-ary, one with no experienceand a bachelor’s degree,from $36,040 to $40,615.That will be the higheststarting teacher salary inDane County, according toVerona Area School Dis-trict Director of HumanResources Jason Olson.Teachers currently mak-ing between those twonumbers will have theirsalary increased as well.Teachers with less than 10years experience receiveda 3 percent wage increase,those with between 10 and20 years received a 2 percentwage increase and those withmore than 20 years receiveda 1 percent increase.Board member KenBehnke, who sits on theboard’s personnel com-mittee, said the new salaryschedule will make the dis-trict competitive in attract-ing new teaching talent.“The goal is to put our-selves in a position to getthe best recruits,” he said.Overall, all three groupsreceived a 2.1 percentincrease in wages.The board also approvednew employment provi-sions for the non-unionsupport personnel.
Town of Verona
Assessments available online
The Town of Verona hasput its residential assess-ment information online.Like many municipali-ties, it had been using anincreasingly obsoleteprogram for many yearsbefore this year’s revalu-ation. During the revalua-tion process, it upgraded toa newer, Windows-basedprogram called MarketDrive, which has a fea-ture that can allow onlineaccess to parts of theassessment files.This year’s revaluationwas completed in April andthe town held state-mandat-ed Open Book sessions inMay. During Open Book,assessor information isavailable to anyone stoppingby Town Hall and wantingto either check to see theaccuracy of their property’sinformation or compare to asimilar property.With the switch to Mar-ket Drive, this informationis available year-round.Town clerk John Wrightexplained that rather thanhave individuals pay foraccess, the town choseto spend $237 per yearto make the informationavailable to everyone andsimplify administration of the site. It includes suchinformation as square foot-age, date built, neighbor-hood type and in somecases, a photo of the home.Market Drive is used bythe state Department of Revenue and Dane County,and the state has encour-aged municipalities to con-vert so they will be betterarmed to produce reportsand generate other infor-mation more quickly. TheCity of Verona also madethe switch this year.To access the informa-tion, visit assessordata.org.For help navigating thesite, visit the town’s web-site at town.verona.wi.usand click Assessmentsunder the Governmentdropdown menu.For information, callTown Hall at 845-7187 orassessor Paul Musser at712-0236.
– Jim Ferolie
Information from Veronapolice reports:
A 50-year-oldman reported that a tenanthe was evicting on the 800block of Hemlock Drive wasnot cooperating with hisrequest to be gone by noon.The evicted left the propertyafter he and the landlordexchanged multiple shoves.
A callerreported two vehicles being“Vaselined” on the 100 blockof Monte Cristo Circle. Nophysical damage was doneto either vehicle, but thevehicles were found coveredin Silly String and maxi pads.No suspects.
A Super 8employee called police toreport an “extremely intoxi-cated” individual heading toMcDonald’s. The 49-year-old man explained to officersthat his affected speech andmobility was due to the braintumor surgery he’d recentlyundergone.
Police respond-ed to a neighbor dispute onthe 100 block of Paoli Streetinvolving threats, vulgar lan-guage and slammed doors.Police told the two men, 43and 41, and a woman aboutwhat would happen if furtherproblems continued.
Police checkedon a vehicle parked at thedead end of Northern LightsRoad. The 20-year-olddriver said he was waitingfor his mother to go to sleepand he did not want to talk toher because she wouldn’t lethim play video games.
Police observedtwo men, 25 and 23, playingwith a fire hydrant markernear the intersection of Wil-liam St. and South JeffersonSt. The men were warnedand replaced the marker,then continued on their wayto their friend’s house.
– Kimberly Wethal