Salem may hold referendum on seeking village status

Salem Town Board members will be working on language for a possible September referendum to gauge citizen interest in the town incorporating as a village.

Town Chairman Linda Valentine presented the issue at Monday’s Town Board meeting, suggesting that the vote be in September.

Her motivation for proposing the referendum is to hear what voters think of the idea before the town invests time and money investigating it, she said.

“Do we want to be a village or don’t we,” Valentine said. “If it turns out the voters say no, then we know don’t we.”

Other board members also were in favor of a referendum.

“I think we have to know more information (about incorporation) before we say yes or no,” said Supervisor Joseph Meier.

The board agreed to meet next week to hammer out referendum language. There is some urgency. To hold a referendum 0n Sept. 14, the board would have to have language to start the process by early August, town Clerk Cindi Ernest said.

Towns generally consider incorporation as a village to stabilize borders, since village land cannot be involuntarily annexed by municipal neighbors, and to gain access to additional economic development tools such as tax increment financing districts.

The northwest portion of Bristol — Salem’s neighbor to the east — incorporated as a village Dec. 1, 2009. The rest of the town of Bristol was then annexed into the village July 4 after an overwhelming town resident vote in favor of that move in June.



  1. Chris Gustafson says:

    Incorporation is a logical preventative step against annexation would cause fewer taxpayers to share the local fiscal burden of current municipal services and needed upgrades. It would also allows us to tuck into Big Brother’s Pie Fest which obviously will eventually be cut into smaller servings, recession or not. That is because in just 20 years, each and every high school kid entering the workforce today will be supporting retirement needs of at least THREE Baby Boomers. Having a non-defunct TIF District with a limited municipal water system plus good Fire/EMS and Police protection could entice new employers to locate here. No doubt some will justly declare this is the “Spot Light Effect” of looking only for solutions were answers have been found. The fact Wisconsin villages can impose a wheel tax, and with right due diligence a special recreation area sales tax, is concerning too. But the town does not have anyone qualified to conduct a costly “quantitative finance analysis” of whether incorporation benefits would be cancel-out. At least taxpayers are being offered the chance to give a non-binding advisory to the town board outside of the usual annual meeting of electors. If incorporation does happen and any future capital improvement project costing one million dollars in part or in whole to construct are proposed again, electors could do what the Mt. Horeb Community Alert group did. That alone makes incorporation more attractive FOR the long-haul.

  2. Salem resident says:

    Where can we learn what the unbiased pros & cons are of incorporating as a Village? We pay our taxes to Salem, although we are physically separated from the town by Silver Lake. We already pay the newer instituted Salem utility tax every few months, despite receiving no benefit from it since we’re on privbate well/septic and do not receive water/storm runoff benefit either. I’m afraid that being located in the outlying collar area of Salem, we’re going to pay for a lot more through our taxes if incorporated, yet still receive little to no benefit for our tax dollars. Just so happens we’re not physicallyt located in town. Will our area get annexed out and, IF SO, what impact does that have as well? Any way advice on how to educate one’s self prior to town meeting? Thanks.

  3. Chris Gustafson says:

    The town held a special meeting about this topic at 9 AM this morning, Monday, July 19, 2010.

    Checkout the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau Informational Paper 12 on Local Government Expenditures and Revenue Limits, dated January 2009 …

    “…Relative to the 2007(08) levy, 29 local governments exceeded the limit and incurred penalties totaling $376,580. This included total penalties of $339,044 imposed on 20 towns, $36,992 imposed on eight villages, and $544 imposed on one city. Nocounties exceeded their limits or incurred any penalties for their 2007(08) tax levies.”

    That means a penalty of $16,952.20 per town was imposed by the state, ONLY $4624 per village, with just $544 imposed on one city.

    This tells me we are up a creek without a paddle if Salem gets incorporated because villages and cities are potentionally more vaulable to the state in terms of tax money that can be collected.

    For information on incorporation, try, “Wisconsin Incorporation Statutes, (dated 2005) at…

    and pages 7 through 19 of the, “Handbook for Municipal Officials” at…

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