January 19, 2011 | 08:47 AMGenoa City — This spring, voters will have more to decide than who occupies what office.
Two referendum questions will appear on the April 5 ballot. The answers to those questions may determine whether the village of Genoa City continues mosquito spraying and using its emergency sirens.
The referenda came up Thursday, Jan. 13, during the regular Village Board meeting. Village Clerk Mary Buchert read the questions as they will appear on the ballot.
She said she worked with Village President Barry Goad and Village Trustee Bill Antti on the wording of the questions.
The referendum question about the sirens mentions spending about $56,000 to install an additional one. That way, the sirens would "be heard outdoors throughout the village," according to the question.
After the meeting, Goad said the idea for the referenda originated during the process of creating this year's village budget. He said in looking for ways to cut costs, village officials eventually turned toward considering the future of the village sirens and its mosquito spraying program.
As for the sirens, he said the ones at Village Hall and the corner of Bond and Wisconsin streets have sounded every day at noon and 5 p.m.
Years ago, the Village Board — then comprised of different members — had it stopped.
"People went ballistic," Goad said.
Now, there are two issues with the sirens.
During the meeting, Trustee Phil Traskaski said he thought the concern was only to discontinue sounding the sirens each day at noon and 5 p.m. After the meeting, Goad explained the idea is to possibly stop the practice so people will know, once the siren goes off, it would be an emergency — not that it's noon or 5 p.m.
However, during the meeting, Goad said only part of the village residents can hear the sirens. That's why an additional siren is being considered.
"The entire village can't hear them," Goad said, adding the concern is for mainly people who reside in the outlying village subdivisions."So, basically, we want to see if the people want us to spend about $56,000."
The origin of the mosquito spraying referendum bears similarities to that of the one about the sirens.
Goad said currently, the board is "looking to cut $10,000 here, $10,000 there" and its members are eyeing the possibility of discontinuing the spraying program.
He said the board cut it years ago and several residents signed a petition directing the Village Board to continue spraying.
The referenda originated during the process village officials underwent to complete this year's budget. Goad said that process ended during a special meeting last month, in which a roomful of people were far from happy about what the village proposed. However, he called it a good meeting, one in which board members received some constructive criticism.
"I think it was a semi-hostile crowd (and) by the end of the public comments portion of the hearing, it ended with thank-yous," Goad said.
He said the night ended with the board cutting the budget where it could. With sewer rates, the board was able to reduce the amount of increase it initially had proposed prior to the special meeting, after listening to those who attended.
That's why the board is placing the fate of the sirens and mosquito spraying in the hands of voters April 5.
However, in response to a question from Antti, Village Attorney Linda Gray said she has to check if the referenda are binding.
"I think it's advisory," she said.