Economic development, fire inspector among needs
By Bert Lehman
When Clintonville’s 2019 city budget was formulated, funds were included for the creation of a new staff position to work on economic development.
Now, the city isn’t sure that’s the best use of a new position.
When the Clintonville City Council met for its March 12 meeting, Eveland told the council she first envisioned a new city staff position being responsible for some of the ground level economic development tasks that she currently takes care of. She would still be involved in economic development, but only with more “big picture” items.
“The plan for that did not work out as I had hoped,” Eveland told the council.
Eveland said a second option for a new staffer is the creation of a human resources position.
This person would be responsible for handling some of the basic HR functions Eveland currently handles, in turn allowing her to devote more time to economic development and grant management.
Eveland informed the council other needs have arisen for the city and she needed the council’s feedback regarding the creation of a new city position.
“One of the areas we are struggling to keep up with is our fire inspections,” Eveland said.
She said Clintonville Fire Chief Shane Krueger is doing an “incredible job,” but the fire chief position is only part time. The city may need to consider adding a full-time chief or fire inspector, she said.
She added the city being behind on its fire inspections isn’t due to a lack of ability, but rather the amount of work the city asks of its volunteer fire department staff.
Alderman Jim Supanich said he understands the need to get caught up on fire inspections, but he stressed that it is “extremely” important that the city continue to pursue grant funds.
“Our debt ratio is high. We have a low-income community,” Supanich said. “You take a look at where we’re at with the conditions of our parks, streets, city buildings. If we don’t continue to aggressively look for grants, we’re not going to work out of that hole.”
Clintonville Mayor Richard Beggs told the council that the city is in danger of losing money because it is behind on fire inspections.
Alderman Brad Rokus said if the city could get into a better financial situation by focusing on economic development, it might allow for the hire of a full-time fire inspector in the future.
“For now I think we need to build up more draw for more people to come to our community whether that’s recruiting more businesses or outdoor recreation activities,” Rokus said. I think if we draw more folks in, we bolster our finances, and then we can afford a full-time fire chief.”
Alderwoman Tammy Strey-Hirt asked how far behind the fire department is with fire inspections.
Clintonville Fire Chief Shane Krueger said the volume of fire inspections is making it difficult to complete them.
He added that the state of Wisconsin had scheduled an audit of the 2018 performance of the Clintonville Fire Department for the end of March.
“It’s above and beyond fire inspections,” Krueger said, “It’s the entire service and how we operate. That is a determination of what’s called 2% dues, which is financially bringing money into the fire department from the state.”
Krueger said in the past, a third party did the fire inspections in the city. Since that party left, fire inspections have fallen on the fire department’s volunteer staff.
To be qualified to perform fire inspections, about one year of schooling is required.
He added the Clintonville Fire Department personnel who have the education to conduct fire inspections work full time during the day when most fire inspections occur.
Around 350 facilities need fire inspections twice per year for a total of around 700, Krueger said. That figure does not include required follow-up inspections.
Beggs asked council members to think about the information presented to them and contact Eveland with their thoughts on the matter.
“I think we have a ways to go” before making a decision, Council President Mike Hankins said.