Wheatland moves forward with Feb. 18 referendum on new fire station spending

The Wheatland Town Board approved pursuing an advisory referendum regarding whether to build a new fire station for the Town of Wheatland Fire Department.

The board intends to hold the referendum Feb. 18, the date of the non-partisan primary. The referendum will ask if voters wish to authorize the town to build a new fire station for no more than $3.8 million.

The referendum will be advisory. Actually authorizing the spending and financing for such a project would have to be approved at an electors meeting in which any resident of the town over 18 can vote. That vote will be binding.

Setting the overall cost was a key part of moving forward with the referendum. When asked Monday what the amount in the referendum should be, fire Chief Lou Denko answered $3.8 million, which is approximately the cost of a proposal that a committee working on the new station had come up with and which had been presented at several public information meetings.

“I feel since we already have told people in the town that we would be in the range of $3.8 million we are going to stick with that number,” Denko said.

A plan put together by a committee of department leadership, town Supervisor Kelly Wilson and representatives of Scherrer Construction called for a new building with an estimated cost of $3.9 million. Glembocki and town Supervisor Andrew Lois have called the price tag too high. Denko contends the proposal could last the department for 50 years, including expansion of services needed with anticipated future local growth.

The board will now submit the referendum amount and date to town attorney Jeff Davison, who will write the actual question wording. That wording will then need to be approved by the Town Board and next sent to the state for approval. All of that will need to happen in time to get the question to the county clerk at least 70 days before the election, so it can be on the ballot.

The board also authorized another series of public information meetings before the referendum. Denko initially suggested four dates in November and December, but some officials felt those dates were too far away from the referendum.

“If it were me, I would do it closer to the election,” said town Clerk Sheila Siegler.

After some discussion, the following dates and times were settled on: Jan. 25 at 8:30 a.m.; Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.; Feb. 1 at 8:30 a.m. and Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

All of the meetings will be noticed as Town Board members might be in attendance, but there will be no official action taken by the board.

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