Spirited Town Board Race Enters Final Week

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MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Matt Geiger

The general theme of this year’s three contested races for Middleton Town Board is nothing new in the world of politics:

The incumbents say local government is on solid footing, and their experience can help keep it that ways. The challengers say it’s time for fresh voices, accusing many on the current board from being out of touch with their constituents.

What is unique, at least for the Town of Middleton, is the hostile gist of the candidates and their supporters.

Those who endorse challengers Cynthia Richson, Greg DiMiceli and Troy Alton say the Town of Middleton is growing and changing, and it’s time to break up a current “Good Old Boys Club” that doesn’t listen to most citizens. (There are currently no women on the board.) The challengers say town government is sitting idly by while the American Transmission Company (ATC) plans to birfurcate the town with a total of four high voltage power lines, all of which are slated to link up with the West Middleton Substation. They say the town should do more to determine where those lines go, fighting to protect property owners from devastating effects on poperty values, health and quality of life.

The incumbents don’t claim to be fans of ATC’s plans, but they contend the town has little, if any, jurisdiction over the lines. They stated that money spent fighting ATC will most likely fatten the pockets of lawyers while having little effect on where the lines are ultimately built. They point out the Wisconsin Public Service Commission – not the Middleton Town Board or even ATC - has the final say.

The incumbents say the town’s levy, debt load and other finances are all in order, and that challengers have distorted the ledgers in an attempt to paint an overly grim picture of municipal finances. The challengers say excessive debt is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

One of the most divisive issues stems from Alton’s platform. The political newcomer says the town should allow people to walk their leashed dogs in local conservancies. Incumbents say they tried allowing dogs in the past, and it didn’t work because dog owners let their pets run freely.

With both sides accusing their opponents of playing games with the numbers, here are some verified figures regarding the state of the Town of Middleton’s finances:

 

Taxes

The 2012 mill rate was $2.66 per $1,000 of equalized value. The town’s levy last year was $2,775,660.

 

Spending & Debt

The town spent about $4.39 million in 2010, $4.64 million in 2011, and $4.04 million in 2012. Expenditures last year included $3.15 in general/capital expenses, $659,378 in principal, and $235,088 in interest.

As of the last day of 2012, the town had just over $6.3 million in debt, including a Chase loan ($771,890) for land, a Build America bond ($1.5 million), a Fire Station No. 2 bond ($1.6 million), and a roadwork and Fire Station No. 1 bond ($2.4 million). The town plans to pay $674,378 in principal and $217,290 in interest on its debt in 2013.

 

ATC

Regarding ATC, the Town of Middleton received a one-time payment, from the State of Wisconsin, as compensation for the environmental impact of the West Middleton Substation. That payment was $279,011.

There is also an annual, ongoing EIF payment of $29,114, which the town receives while construction of new lines is ongoing. After construction is completed, that figure will jump to $87,342.

The current West Middleton Substation State of Wisconsin Shared Revenue Payment to the town is $15,487.

 

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