Meeting Watch RTSA

Before Monday night’s City Council meeting, if you were applying for a license to serve in the city of New Richmond, that decision depended on the police department’s review, verification and recommendation of your application and subsequent approval by the City Council all pursuant to the authority granted in state law.

However there was no actual written policy spelling out what can be taken into account when deciding whether or not to approve an application.

Guidance for law enforcement or city officials when it came to clearly specifying the reasons for denying, non-renewing, or revoking an operator’s license was lacking.

The question revolved around the term “substantially related,” deciding how a specific circumstance or incident should be considered relative to an operator’s application.

New Richmond Police Chief Craig Yehlik worked with staff and the city’s legal counsel to create a set of eight specific guidelines to be used when reviewing applications for alcohol operator’s licenses to provide clarity and consistency in that process going forward.

The guidelines are intended not only to spell out clearly the parameters for approval or disapproval for the benefit of the Police Department and City Council but also for applicants.

“It shows what the criteria are for potential applicants when they come in so they can know right away whether they are going to qualify or not,” Yehlik said. 

The intention gives applicants the incentive to be forthcoming and include all of the required information upfront especially as it relates to their history with drugs and alcohol.  

“There are a lot of people who fill out the application and neglect to put certain things down, which causes a lot of headaches,” Yehlik said, “The guidelines just offer some penalties, if you will, if they should choose not to self-disclose some of the things from their past.”

Yehlik said the guidelines do not eliminate the avenue of appeal should an applicant choose to challenge the decision of the council. 

The guidelines address in detail the lookback period for which a wide variety of criminal offenses ranging from violent crimes including battery, sexual assault and victim intimidation to drug trafficking, prostitution and driving under the influence, can be considered.   

Council members unanimously approved the Alcohol Operator's License Guidelines as presented.

Library update

City Administrator Noah Wiedenfeld updated council members on the new library project. Soil borings at the site were completed within the last month and a preliminary interior and exterior rendering have been completed. They received their first review by Library Board members at their Feb. 6 meeting.

The plan is to circulate the renderings to various venues over the next couple months including the library, parent-teacher conferences, the Civic Center during the Feb. 21 primary election and on the City’s website to begin to gather public feedback.

Wiedenfeld also plans to meet with construction contractors over the next few weeks in an attempt to secure a realistic estimate of what it could cost to build the new library.

The next large scale community engagement opportunity will most likely take place later this spring. 

Biosolids facility 

City Financial Director Rae Ann Ailts updated council members on the status of the West Central Biosolids Facility Project. 

The city along with 10 other municipalities entered into an agreement with West Central Wisconsin Biosolids Facility (WCWBF) in Ellsworth, in 1995 to handle, store, treat and dispose of biosolids created as a byproduct of the city’s water treatment.

A proposal to upgrade the facility’s aging infrastructure, equipment and machinery as well as add storage and increase processing capacity was divided into three phases with an estimated cost of $28 million to $30 million as of last August. Recently received bids to complete the initial Phase 0.5 construction ranged from $9.5-$11 million, roughly $2 million more than earlier estimated. 

Based on a study of sewer rates commissioned by the city in 2018, the city was projecting a rate increase of at least 4 percent from 2023-2029 to meet projected future operation and maintenance expenses, debt service for existing debt, planned major and minor capital improvements, and recommended reserve levels.

Ailts reported the planned capital improvements to the WCWBF could potentially require an additional rate increase of 10 percent in 2024 and another 12 percent in 2026.

As a result of those potential increases the city is exploring alternatives to the WCWBF including building its own processing plant. The city is currently three years into a 20-year agreement with WCWBF.

The members of the biosolids facility are tentatively scheduled to meet on Feb. 16, during which time the bids will be discussed and it is anticipated the membership will be asked to vote on the project.

Quick hits

  • Council members approved the recommendation from the Utility Commission to purchase an emergency backup generator for Well 4 from Simon Electric for $47,950, including installation. This purchase was included in the city’s current capital improvement plan. Estimated delivery time is 36 weeks.

  • Council members approved the purchase of a 2023 Envirosight Rovver X sewer televising system from MacQueen for $94,456. Having to spend on average $30,000-$35,000 annually to rent the equipment, the utility felt it could justify the purchase and have the equipment available for emergency use as well. For the equipment to be operable, the utility plans to purchase a used ambulance ($3,000-$5,000) from New Richmond Area Ambulance later this summer in which to install the equipment making it portable.

  • Moody's credit rating agency recently upgraded the city's general obligation debt to Aa2 and the Electric Utility revenue debt to A1. 

  • St. Croix County is planning to reconstruct a portion of CTH K, from 170th Street North and continuing 1.5 miles east to CTH T, in the summer of 2024. A public involvement meeting will be held at the Civic Center on Thursday, February 16th from 6-7 p.m. with a short presentation at the beginning followed by a more informal open house.   

  • Early in-person voting is now open at the Civic Center for the spring primary, Feb. 21.

The sample ballot is available here: Candidate info is available here:

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