Summary of Events- Consolidation In November of 1999, Town and Village of Rochester Boards met with a representative from the State Department of Administration to discuss the statutory requirements of consolidation. After the meeting, Boards appointed eight members to a committee to study the feasibility of consolidating the two municipalities. In 2000, the committee created a list of pros and cons of consolidation: Pros were identified as follows: • Elimination of confusion in public: Town vs. Village. Many residents are unsure of municipal boundaries and which municipality they live in. This causes confusion in their search for information or services. Economic Benefits. Creation of a municipality large enough to support itself as the area becomes more populated and the pressure for services increase. Creation of better opportunities for economic development. Availability of TIF Districts and possible other benefits available to an incorporated village that are not available to apply to town lands. Consolidation of services common to both municipalities; some already shared, some services that are duplicated at this time, and some that together could be improved. 1.) Fire & rescue service 2.) Library service 3.) Municipal building, library building and fire department real estate 4.) Clerk, assessor, building inspector, maintenance, accounting, legal, etc. 5.) Garbage and waste collection 6.) Police protection 7.) Future water service and sewer expansion 8.) Maintenance and improvement of roads, parks and buildings 9.) A request for rural delivery out of the Rochester Post Office Greater strength in administration of land use policy and issues regarding growth and development. Solidify planning of development in the area. Efforts and goals will be the same, instead of possible differences in direction and goals of village and town. • • • • • • • Prevent or control infringement of bordering communities. Allow for controlled residential, commercial and business growth, yet help maintain rural or small community personality, which, from all indications, most people in this community seem to want. Create better control of situations/ decisions in areas of common or mutual concern – in making decisions that affect all people in one (common) community, i.e., currently existing Town and Village. Create more feeling of unity, with more cooperative attitude and relationships in planning for future needs and development of our community. Create more clout with elected representatives, due to larger voter count and more focused concerns. Preserve the community known as “Rochester” for future generations. • • • • Cons were identified as: • Change in public perception: Village form of government is perceived as more urban. Town as more rural… and potential effect on development. • • • • Interpretation of financial disparities between the Village and Town. Conflicts between existing ordinances. Loss of present positions or posts- both legislative and administrative. Cost of the process. The Statutory requirements of consolidation were also studied. At that time, state law required any consolidation of a town and village to meet the same requirements applied to incorporation as a village or city. The committee felt the requirements for consolidation of the Town and Village could be met if applying as an isolated village. An “Isolated Village” had to have a minimum area of one-half mile; with a resident population of 150. The territory beyond the most densely populated one-half square mile required an average of more than 30 housing units per quarter section. There were many other requirements, but these basic requirements had to be met. The other requirements were open to interpretation. At the time, the committee dismissed a standard titled “Impact on the Metropolitan Community” because they did not feel it applied. These requirements became effective when near a 1st, 2nd or 3rd class city. POPULATION REQUIREMENTS First Class City >150,000 Second Class City 39,000 – 149,999 Third Class City 10,000 – 38,999 Fourth Class City <10,000 After four years of gathering and preparing information for submittal to the courts and subsequent review by the Department of Administration, this was the standard that caused the petition to be denied. Rochester was tied through a series of populated square miles to the cities of Muskego, Franklin and Oak Creek. It was determined to be part of a “metropolitan community”. During that same time period, an alternate process was being pursued. At Rochester’s request, Representative Bonnie Ladwig led a task force to create legislation that would create another option for consolidation. The Wisconsin Town’s Association, the League of Municipalities, the National Association of Cities and the Department of Administration all had representatives on that committee- each organization with its own concerns. Ultimately, a bill was passed to provide another option. Rochester met all requirements of that bill, with the exception that boundary agreements needed to be negotiated with each abutting municipality before consolidation could take place. The boundary agreement provision left both Town and Village Boards with concerns. They did not know how much it would cost to negotiate agreements and they weren’t sure whether Town and Village residents fully supported the concept. Under any scenario, the final step is always a referendum election to approve consolidation. Before investing any more money or time in the process, a referendum was placed on the April 2005 election ballot. The question: “Should the Town (or Village) Board continue to work with the Village (Town) of Rochester and attempt to consolidate the Town of Rochester with the Village of Rochester?” Results: Town of Rochester: 26% Turnout 342 Yes; 138 No (71% / 29%) Village of Rochester: 23% Turnout 126 Yes; 34 No (79% Favor/ 21% Against) As a result of the referendum, Town and Village Boards directed legal counsel to draft a boundary agreement template that could be utilized for all eight municipalities that surround Rochester. In 2006, all municipalities were contacted regarding their willingness to participate in the boundary agreement process. Ultimately, all municipalities agreed and the process of meetings and negotiations began. The “catch” was that Rochester had to cover the legal costs associated with each agreement. In January of 2007, upon receipt of several resolutions authorizing boundary agreements by the Department of Administration, the Town and Village were contacted and notified of another option to consolidation. That option required a boundary agreement between Town and Village of Rochester that would transfer territory from Town to Village over time… a minimum of ten years. It also only required boundary agreements with the Village of Waterford and City of Burlington. The difference in this process was that these boundary agreements would not make or break efforts and Rochester would not have to pay all legal costs. Town and Village Boards agreed to follow this process. All neighboring Towns were notified that boundary agreements were no longer necessary. Both the City of Burlington and Village of Waterford were notified that Rochester would no longer cover costs associated with the boundary agreement process, but were still interested in negotiating the agreements. Those agreements are still in process. In the summer of 2007, Town and Village Board members were contacted by State Assemblyperson Robin Vos. Robin polled Board members on whether they wished him to insert language with the State Budget Bill that would allow Rochester to by-pass Department of Administration requirements in order to consolidate. Board members agreed to the insertion. Section 66.0229(2) of the State Statutes was created as follows: Town of Rochester in Racine county and the village of Rochester may consolidate. The town of Rochester, in Racine County, and the village of Rochester may consolidate if all of the procedures contained sub. (1) are fulfilled, except that the consolidation ordinance need not be submitted to the circuit court for a determination and the department of administration for a public interest finding, as otherwise required, and the consolidation may be completed without any circuit court determination or department of administration findings. In April of 2008, a consolidation ordinance was adopted by Town and Village Boards that establishes the terms of consolidation. A referendum will be placed on the November Presidential Election Ballot asking electors to approve consolidation.
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