Four town budgets passed as proposed

There were no additions, subtractions or changes in 2015-16 proposed town budgets for Dunkirk, Pleasant Springs, Rutland and Dunn, which were passed during last week’s annual budget hearings. The meetings were sparsely attended by town residents. 

Tax bills, with numbers for all taxing jurisdictions, will be mailed in mid-December.


In the Town of Dunkirk, which held its budget hearing Nov. 16,  residents will see an 0.01 percent increase in the town portion of their property tax bill – around $2 more for the owner of a $200,000 home. The expected mill rate is $2.81 per $1,000 of assessed property, a slight increase from the 2015 rate of $2.80. 

In an email to the Hub last week, supervisor Ted Olson said the budget is “basically the same as last year’s.”


Stoughton man arrested for 5th OWI

Police booked a 37-year-old Stoughton man Nov. 10 on charges of what would be his fifth-offense OWI.

Stoughton Police Chief Greg Leck told the Hub via email that Scott W. Doughtie was initially pulled over for a lack of registration when the officer smelled alcohol on his breath. A breath test showed a “higher” level of blood alcohol concentration than he was legally allowed after his previous four OWI convictions.

Leck said Doughtie was arrested and submitted to blood tests for alcohol.

Doughtie also faces charges of driving with a revoked license and expired vehicle registration.

If convicted of the OWI charge, Doughtie faces up to six years in prison and a maximum of $10,000 in fines.


Dane County budget boosts spending on development, transit programs

The City of Stoughton could benefit from several items in the $567 million budget approved Monday night by the Dane County Board, namely getting county funding for development projects. 

The budget, which still must be signed by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, will mean an increase of $34.37 to the average household’s property tax bill. 

Dist. 35 Sup. Carl Chenoweth, who represents Stoughton, said this year’s budget process was easier than in years past, as tax revenues were up around the county and the local economy was in its second year of rebounding. 

“(An increase of) $34 on average in property taxes – it’s not cheap, but I think all the investments were really vetted by the County Board,” he said. 


Wisconsin private school vouchers more than doubled

The amount of students receiving state vouchers to attend private schools in Wisconsin rose dramatically in the past year.

According to a press release last month from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, private school vouchers were issued to 2,514 students in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) for the 2015-16 school year, after just over 1,000 students were in the program last year. Of the 1,640 new students in the voucher program, nearly 20 percent attended a public school last year.

The number of schools participating in the program also rose, from 31 last year to 82 this year.

Changes to state law recently eliminated the previous WPCP cap of 1,000 FTE students. Enrollment in the WPCP voucher program in 2015-16 from a single public school district is limited to 1 percent of the school district’s student population.


Common council again rezones MillFab site

The Common Council last week unanimously approved a proposal to rezone about 12 acres along the Yahara River, including what’s known as the MillFab parcel, to allow for future redevelopment of the property.

The council approved a similar resolution in September but restarted the process in late October after a court-appointed receiver for the Holly MillFab Holding Company, John Stark, objected that a public hearing on rezoning the area wasn’t properly noticed.

The council’s action last Tuesday, Nov. 10, amends a city ordinance that will effectively change the zoning in the area from heavy industrial, single-family residential, neighborhood business and institutional to multi-family residential. A total of 17 parcels are affected. Officials see the change as a necessary first step to redeveloping the area for mixed use.


Scammers pose as Stoughton utility bill collectors

Stoughton Utilities is warning customers to be wary of callers or visitors who claim to be from the utility requesting immediate payment for a delinquent utility bill.

At least four Stoughton restaurants have recently been targeted in a “common utility scam,” according to a Stoughton Utilities news release.

Tips to watch out for scams include:


City of Stoughton: Budget adds small tax hike

The city plans to add a daytime duty crew at the fire department and seasonal staff in parks next year in return for a slight increase in property taxes.

The Common Council adopted the city’s 2016 budget as presented last Tuesday, with a 0.9 percent increase in the city tax rate. That’s an eight-cent increase in the mill rate (to $8.63 per $1,000 in value, from $8.55), meaning the owner of a $200,000 property would pay $16 more than last year for a total of $1,725.40 in city taxes.

Tax bills will be mailed to Stoughton residents in mid-December.

The city held a public hearing on the proposed budget last week prior to alders unanimously approving the budget. No one from the public spoke at the hearing. 

Alders adopted the budget, following a presentation by finance director Laurie Sullivan, without discussion.


Wisconsin third in graduation rate

Wisconsin’s 2014 public school graduation rate of 88.6 percent is among the highest in the nation, according to preliminary statistics from the U.S. Department of Education.

Wisconsin ranked third nationwide; tied with New Jersey. Iowa was first with a graduation rate of 90.5 percent, followed by Nebraska at 89.7 percent.

The preliminary data also show that 36 states, including Wisconsin, saw increases in their overall four-year graduation rates, while six states had declines and another eight states had no change since 2012-13. Wisconsin’s 2014 graduation rate was six-tenths of a point higher than the prior year.


MillFab rezone hearing comes without protest

A controversial rezoning request for a six-acre property along the Yahara River heard no adverse public commentary prior to being unanimously recommended for approval at the Nov. 5 meeting of the Planning Commission.

A rezoning, from industrial to mixed-use residential, had already been recommended by the commission, but the Common Council voted to send it back to planning after John Stark, the court-appointed receiver for the Holly MillFab Holding Company during liquidation proceedings, argued that public hearing laws were not followed. At that council meeting, he referred to the rezone as an unlawful “taking” of value, as the rezone would drop the sale value of the property by approximately $1 million.


Shillelagh Foundation raises nearly $20K

The 41st Annual Shillelagh Foundation fundraising event Sept. 13 brought in $19,000 that the group will distribute to a variety of community organizations. 

This year, donations are going to: 

• Stoughton Hospital Foundation
• Skaalen Retirement Services
• Stoughton EMS
• Agrace Hospice
• Stoughton Food Pantry
• Stoughton Seniors In Need
• Three Gaits
• S.T.A.R.T. (Stoughton Area Resource Team)
• Stoughton Wellness Coalition
• Methodist Church Food Pantry
• Shalom Holistic Health Clinic

The group also announced Bill Mansfield as the 2015 Shillelagh Foundation Citizen of the Year. 


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