No discussion of joint plan with Salem at Silver Lake Village Board committee meeting; on agenda for action Thursday night

silver-lake-VHThe Silver Lake Village Board had a resolution authorizing the preparation of a cooperative plan with Salem on the agenda of its regularly scheduled committee of the whole meeting Wednesday night. That’s the monthly meeting designed for discussion of matters that might make it to a future regular board meeting for formal action.

The plan could be used as a means to merge Silver Lake and Salem into one municipality down the line through a boundary agreement — a matter that potentially could have a huge impact on the future of the village government.

But after the resolution was read by Deputy Clerk Sue Nelson, there was no discussion among board members about the measure. No one from the audience sought to speak either. Citizen comment was not included on the committee of the whole agenda, as it usually is not in Silver Lake. However, at some committee of the whole meetings, some audience members have been allowed to speak. Most of the audience members who did attend were people who tend to be aligned with the Village Board.

It appeared village officials may have expected an unruly meeting. Two sheriff’s deputies and a sheriff’s department officer were in attendance.

The action on the cooperative plan resolution is on the agenda for a special village board meeting scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. Citizen comment is not a part of the agenda for that meeting.

The Salem Town Board passed a similar resolution Monday at a special meeting, also with little discussion. Salem town Chairman Diann Tesar confirmed after the Monday meeting that the resolution is the first step of a process that could merge the two municipalities into one, giving Salem status as a village in the process.

A boundary agreement with a village was cited by a Salem citizen committee that studied incorporation models last year as the most streamlined of all of the possible ways the town of Salem could incorporate as a village. It would not require a referendum, though an advisory referendum could be held or forced by a petition of a sufficient number of residents. Michael Ullstrup, the chairman of that committee, speaking at a meeting last summer, called a boundary agreement the “wild west” of incorporation methods because anything the two municipalities agreed to could in theory be included in the agreement, such as the two municipalities becoming one and the new municipality being a village.

Another advantage of incorporation via boundary agreement would be the inclusion of all of the town in the new village. A traditional incorporation requires compact area and typically farmland and less dense areas are not allowed to be part of the incorporation. Tesar has said she would not be in favor of an incorporation that cannot include the whole town.

A traditional incorporation effort also would likely be more expensive, town officials have said.

Incorporation has been an on again, off again goal for Salem through recent years. Villages have powers over self determination and driving economic development not available to towns. The also have secure boundaries as land inside a village cannot be annexed into neighboring municipalities.

Silver Lake and Salem have been sharing more services over the last year. Silver Lake contracted with Salem for fire and rescue services, dissolving its own fire department. In recent weeks, Salem assisted Silver Lake with some public works projects.

A boundary agreement driven consolidation of Salem and Silver Lake would also satisfy an element within Silver Lake that has been seeking to unite with Salem. A effort to dissolve the village and become part of Salem — spearheaded by now village President Bruce Nopenz — failed in 2014 when a referendum gained an insufficient majority of Silver Lake voters.

The area now consisting of the village of Silver Lake was part of Salem before the village incorporated in 1926.

Salem has a population of over 12,000. Silver Lake’s population is about 2,400.

An unrelated change to the village’s ordinances regarding construction site erosion control also was on the agenda Wednesday. That issue also drew little discussion. Nopenz said the change has come down from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the village has little choice but to adopt it. It is also on Thursday’s meeting agenda for action.

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Salem approves resolution to explore cooperative plan with Silver Lake

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2 Comments

  1. Anyone surprised? says:

    If becoming Salem is so great and wonderful, why is this board afraid to discuss it in the open? Why won’t they allow citizens to voice their opinions? Answer: it’s easier to make deals and take care of your friends and relatives when the public isn’t watching. Shameful

  2. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Anyone surprised? Once again,folks, let’s stick to the FACTS!! There will be PLENTY of OPPORTUNITY to “allow citizens to voice their opinions”. In fact, incorporating via the boundary agreement process REQUIRES a PUBLIC HEARING with a 20 day comment period. This process is in the initial stages. For “Anyone surprised” to assert the “public isn’t watching” is absurd. As for “making deals and taking care of friends and relatives”…..just more incorrect “garbage” being tossed around. The FACT is that a MAJORITY of Silver Lake residents vote to DISSOLVE!
    While that option has long been ABANDONED, our current board HAS taken the responsibility of looking at a boundary agreement that would benefit the majority of citizens in BOTH Silver Lake AND Salem. Right now, that is EXACTLY what BOTH boards are doing………no “behind the doors deals” that the Monty Halls of our village seem to insist exist!!! “Anyone surprised….COME ON DOWN”! “Let’s make a DEAL”!!!

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