Salem-Silver Lake merger plan approved by state

Salem and Silver Lake’s cooperative plan designed to result in a merged village government has been approved by the Wisconsin Department of Administration.

The state issued the approval Monday. Salem received notification of the decision Monday afternoon, said Patrick Casey, administrator for Salem and Silver Lake.

A letter (given to westofthei.com by Casey) from Dawn Vick, administrator,  Department of Administration Division of Intergovernmental Relations, addressed to Salem Chairman Diann Tesar and Silver Lake President Bruce Nopenz said in part:

On behalf of the Department of Administration, I am pleased to provide your communities with our approval of your Cooperative Plan.
Congratulations on your success in reaching agreement to combine your communities. Your collaboration represents a substantial progression of the existing cooperation between your communities. No doubt by combining services and eliminating duplication, this Cooperative Plan will greatly increase governmental efficiency and orderly future development and be tremendously beneficial to area residents.

The approval  comes a little before the maximum due date for the Department of Administration approval. That should mean the timeline of events resulting in the two municipalities becoming the new village of Salem Lakes on Feb. 14 is  intact.

The idea of merging the two municipalities became public in May, when each municipality considered and approved resolutions to create a cooperative plan. A draft of the plan was released in June and public hearings — at which sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of the merger — were held in July.

The next step in the merger process involves the April nonpartisan municipal elections. Instead of Silver Lake and Salem having separate elections for their respective governing boards, the election will be for positions on the new seven-member Salem Lakes Village Board. Three trustee seats and the village president seat will be elected by all electors in Salem and Silver Lake combined. The other three seats will be filled by existing Silver Lake trustees in the first year of their terms. Residents of either of the current Silver Lake or Salem can begin circulating petitions Dec. 1 for the Salem Lakes board slots.

In a determination on the plan available on the Department of Administration’s website, the Salem-Silver Lake plan was found to have met all statutory requirements. The determination says in part:

The Town of Salem and Village of Silver Lake (Communities) developed this Cooperative Plan to bring about their eventual consolidation into a single jurisdictional entity. This Cooperative Plan is a positive step for both Communities because it enables Silver Lake to cease being a separate jurisdiction and it enables Salem to achieve village status. Both Communities believe this Cooperative Plan will greatly increase governmental efficiency due to sharing and eliminating the duplication of services. The Cooperative Plan will also assure more orderly and planned future development. The Communities already cooperate with law enforcement and fire protection services, among others, so this Cooperative Plan represents a continuation and progression of this existing level of cooperation.

Salem had studied incorporation options. Incorporating as a village was seen as desirable because of various improved powers and stabilization of its borders. Territory in towns can be absorbed into villages or cities. Territory in villages cannot. The cooperative plan/boundary agreement method was chosen when Silver Lake proved to be a willing partner. Becoming a village through a boundary agreement allowed all of Salem to be incorporated. If a traditional incorporation had been attempted, it was unlikely that the whole town would have been included due to state requirements that territory incorporating be compact and not rural.

3 Comments

  1. Dan Campion says:

    YES!! This is a historic event for the Town of Salem and the Village of Silver Lake, soon to be known as Village of Salem Lakes. Proud to be part of making this happen. Thanks to one and all for the hard work over the past year.

  2. Steve Brown says:

    As a resident of the Town of Salem, I am pleased that the DOA approved the plan. A lot of hard work went into making this happen. Congratulations to both the Village of Silver Lake and the Town of Salem board members!!!

    Well done!!

  3. Jeff Albrecht says:

    Congratulations to both communities whose foresight has resulted in this historic merger. Many hours of cooperative planning left no stones unturned in arriving at the conclusion that the boundary agreement will become a winning solution for their residents. I wouldn’t doubt that this agreement becomes a template for other Wisconsin communities seeking governmental efficiencies for years to come.

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