The Dresser Village Board gathered for their monthly meeting on Monday, November 1st and commenced at 6:30 p.m.  The whole board was in attendance.  The majority of the evening was filled with updates from the Polk County Board and Economic Development Corporation representatives and then there was a brief discussion about moving the method of funding of Dresser hydrants to the tax rolls. 

 

Polk County Board Update

Sharon Kelly, Polk County Board Member representing District 8, gave an update about what’s happening in the county.  She highlighted trails, the completed Wapogasset Water Shed project, a solar farm being built in Clear Lake and her proposal, Resolution 5721, that would earmark the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for capital improvement.

Kelly said that there are six trail projects in progress currently, and she has been pleased with the great input from the community throughout the process.  She then discussed the Wapogasset Water Shed project and that it was completed.  Eighty-seven out of five hundred and eighty-six wells in that water shed were tested.  The county worked with these well owners to help identify nitride levels, for example, to improve the quality of their water.  Participation was low, however, because she thought that residents were afraid participating would wind up costing them money.  More watersheds projects will be identified for the future.

There is a 1200-acre solar farm that will be constructed in Clear Lake, Kelly explained, called the Apple River LLC.   They just got all their permits approved by the state and they are starting construction next year.  They will be selling the energy back to a power company and the facility will eventually be sold to one.  Kelly was concerned about having no place in Polk County to recycle solar panels.  She said they have an average life of 20 years, at which time they begin to disintegrate.  She expressed that a recycling or disposal plan should be considered.  

Kelly’s proposal, Resolution 5721, allocates the first received Polk County’s ARPA monies totaling $4.2 MM to capital projects.  “We never get these things done.  We keep pushing them,” she said, and continued, “This is a good opportunity and they (capital projects) fit into the board priorities.”  $1.6 MM has already been approved to update equipment to improve efficiency at the county’s recycling center, $1.2 MM is proposed for the roof replacement at the Justice Center (court house and jail), $150 K is proposed to replace the roof on the Polk County Museum, and $1 MM is proposed to purchase radios and backup batteries for communication towers to strengthen emergency services including fire, the sheriff’s office, and EMT’s.  Currently there are problems getting communication in places along the bluffs.   “I’m hopeful it (all) gets passed by the County Board,” she said.

 

Polk County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC) Update

If you have not heard of the PCEDC, you may wonder what they do.  Their Executive Director, Terry Hauer, presented those things before the Board. The organization says its purpose is to “Encourage and promote economic development and capital investment in Polk County in order to create and retain quality jobs, enhance our community’s tax base, and facilitate positive, sustainable economic growth.”  There are multiple ways they are doing that.

Hauer started by sharing Polk County’s state of unemployment and how the PCEDC is trying to attract more working people here.  The county has a total workforce of 24,340 people with an unemployment rate of 3.3% presently, so with such low unemployment and plentiful job opportunities, the corporation is hoping its new website, www.prosperinpolk.com, will help entice them.  It is chalk full of great information about why this county is a great place to live and work.  

Lack of housing also creates a challenge for drawing and keeping workers in Polk County, and it is a priority for the PCEDC to help find solutions.  When asked about whether there were any new apartments or townhomes planned, Hauer mentioned the development of rental units that will be going in at the old hospital site in Osceola as well as a proposed site behind Kwik Trip.  This will certainly help fill a deficit in the local area and hopefully interest others in moving here.

To further help existing businesses and to entice new ones, the PCEDC offers multiple resources on their website, www.polkcountyedc.com.  It shows land availability in the county’s business districts, describes incentives such as available grants, and provides demographic data.  This year, in Polk County there were 19 applicants for the Main Street Bounceback Grants with total awards of $190,000.00, and there were 30 applicants for the West Central WI Microenterprise Grants with awards of $147,425.39.  The PCEDC also heads to Madison once a year to advocate in person with legislators for the county’s economic development, infrastructure, workforce and tourism.  Board Chair, “Fatboy” Raddatz said about Hauer, “He is aggressive.  He’s awesome.  Terry’s done a great job.  He’s done very, very well for the EDC.”

 

Changing Method of Funding for Dresser Hydrants

The Village of Dresser has asked the utility regulatory organization, Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin, to change its cost of recovery method for hydrants for fire protection.  Because the Village has experienced a full rate increase, they are wanting to move this cost from municipality to each customer directly.  The increase cost was high enough that it would result in the Village not being able to meet its levee limits and expenditure restraints put on them by the state.  Villagers will see an average rate increase of 35.83% on their water utilities bill to cover the amount.  The increase is based on meter size and water usage.

For an average meter size of 3/4-inch and water usage of 3,000 gallons per month, the current rate per month is around $24.95.  It will increase about $8.94 overall.  The plan will be implemented in two phases with 17.92% being charged in the first phase and 15.19% in the second one.  There will be a public hearing on December 1st with the PSC to discuss the time lines and implementation.

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