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Officials want resident input on new Walworth Town Hall

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Kayla Bunge
November 11, 2009
— Town officials want town residents to speak up about the financing of a new town hall.

The Walworth Town Board on Tuesday decided to include a letter and a questionnaire in tax bills, which are to be mailed out next month.


The letter would outline the need for a new building and how the town could pay for it. The questionnaire would ask residents whether or not they would be willing to shoulder part of the burden.


“We want to get more feedback from the taxpayers as far as what we’re doing,” said town Supervisor Larry Austin. “We don’t want to be like a lot of other government and just spend the money and tax later.”


Town officials have been talking about the need for a new town hall for years, but the current town board is the first taking steps to make it happen. Officials have talked with an architect and contractors to get an idea of how much a new building would cost.


The 3,360-square-foot town hall at 1301 Town Hall Road was built in 1979. The hall, garage and parking lot sit on about two-thirds of one acre.


The clerk and chairman share the only office in the building. The treasurer, assessor and building inspector don’t have offices. The only workspace for the two town supervisors is a large table in the middle of the main room.


The meeting space is small.


Road maintenance vehicles are parked side-by-side in the town garage, and lawnmowers and other seasonal equipment are stored at nearby farms.


The Elkhorn architect with whom town officials have been working has quoted a building cost of about $750,000.


Between getting the land for a new building donated and selling the existing building, the town likely will be looking at a lower cost, the town board said Tuesday.


The town probably will take out a long-term fixed-rate loan to cover the cost, Austin said.


The letter to residents will include a chart that shows the approximate amount of additional taxes owners of homes or farms at various values would pay to cover the cost of a new town hall if the town takes out the loan, he said.


“We should ask them if they’re OK with that or if they would want to have us wait and do it in the future,” Austin said.


Town officials hope to reach a significant number of residents by including a questionnaire in the tax bills.


“We don’t want to pass this with only 15 people sitting in a room,” said town Chairman Joe Abell. “We’d like to have at least 80 percent of the people to respond and say aye or nay.”



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