The Oak Creek Town Board approved the 2005 budget at its Thursday night meeting, with Town Trustee Mike Kien voting against the budget because of what he called "exorbitant" salary increases and a subsidized trash fund.
All employees received a 5 percent salary increase, but some received higher increases. After the meeting, Kien said the about 37 percent raise that Town Clerk Nancy Crawford received was one of his concerns. Under the new budget, Crawford's yearly salary jumps from $38,000 to $52,000.
Kien said that though he thinks Crawford deserves a "big raise," that sort of raise is "exorbitant."
Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman said it was important to show employees that the town appreciates them, especially those who have succeeded at "sticking to it."
Kien also said after the meeting that he thinks that adding a $1 charge per home for the trash service to cover administration work is not enough, as administration work for other funds is higher.
Rodeman responded that the fee was reasonable and should be "more than enough."
During the meeting, Rodeman made the motion to accept the budget, which proposes total expenditures of about $2.5 million, with $1 million for a new wastewater treatment plant that should be paid for with grants and a loan.
Trustee Steve Beven seconded the motion, and then Kien brought up his concerns.
Trustee John Crawford also said he was concerned that the numbers could be wrong, and that by his calculations, the budget was off by upward of $600,000.
Rodeman replied that the budget might not turn out to be the exact expenditures for the year, but that town employees have pulled together to do a good job at putting together a budget without a full-time treasurer.
Crawford suggested that the town's accountant review the budget and Crawford's notes and then make suggestions, and Rodeman agreed.
There were no public comments about the budget.
Also at the meeting, the Town Board approved a motion to buy a small strip of land needed for the new open-air ice rink.
The 0.11 acres of private property that the town needs was appraised at the request of property owner Joe Foreman.
The appraisal came in at $4,320, more than twice what the town originally agreed to pay, but the Town Board agreed to pay that price if Foreman accepts it.
"I think it's reasonable, and I think if it helps us come to an amiable agreement then ... I'm glad on the whole thing," Rodeman said. "I truly hope (Foreman) thinks it's fair."
The town of Oak Creek abandoned its efforts to condemn the land needed because it was not allowed to condemn land and receive a $200,000 grant to fund the project.
Rodeman now estimates the cost of the project at $700,000, but she says that almost all that will be paid through donated materials and time, plus the grant. She said she expects the town's contribution to be minimal, and the town has budgeted $10,000 for the project in 2005.
-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail email@example.com