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Town of Lisbon Residents Voice Opposition To Merger With Sussex

Town leaders attempt to make case for consolidation with Sussex during informational meeting Tuesday.

More than 100 Town of Lisbon residents voiced their concerns Tuesday regarding a with the Village of Sussex during an informational meeting held by town leader. 

After Town Chairman Matt Gehrke made a 90-minute presentation that made a case for moving forward with exploring a possible merger, several residents indicated their .

"When you look at (consolidation) with Sussex, the tax base goes up, their taxes go down; my taxes go up. It doesn't compute," said town resident Dennis Manthy. "I've lived here for 35 years and the Town of Lisbon is the Town of Lisbon."

Gehrke noted the current the property tax rate in Lisbon is $3.09 per $1,000 of assessed value. It would increase to about $3.50 per $1,000 if assessed value if the town consolidated with Sussex. He said any increase due to consolidation would be phased in over 10 years.

Gehrke repeatedly told the audience that consolidation would be a dead issue if the town residents vote against it during an Aug. 14 advisory referendum.

"Most of us want to keep things just the way they are ... but if we don't consolidate, the Lisbon we see here today will not be the Lisbon you see in future years," Gehrke said.

The case for consolidation

Part of the impetus behind Lisbon's need to merge with the is its diminishing tax base due to past and possible future annexation, according to Gehrke.

Another reason to consolidate with Sussex is law enforcement coverage. Currently, the Town of Lisbon has an officer on duty for 16 hours a day. Between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. the town relies on police departments from surrounding municipalities to respond. 

"Consolidation offers economies of scale and many increased efficiencies," Gehrke said. "We realize this is an emotional topic for many people ... a very good case can be made that (consolidation) is the best option, if you are able to remove the emotion."

Supervisor says no need for merger

Supervisor Dan Fisher, who is opposed to consolidation, had a flier distributed to attendees before the meeting.

The two-sided yellow handout said Lisbon currently has about $8.5 million in debt while Sussex has about $20 million in debt. After Lisbon's debt is paid off, its residents would be on the hook for Sussex's remaining debt.

Fisher also said mergers are expensive, using as an example the city and village of Pewaukee spending $286,000 for a study before a merger between the two municipalities failed. 

"The sky is not falling," the flier said. "The Town of Lisbon is still a great community that provides services and the lifestyle that our residents expect and enjoy. Let's keep it that way."

Another factor driving the opposition to consolidation is the possibility that Lisbon property owners would be eventually be forced to hook up to sewer and water utilities. According to Town of Lisbon Supervisor Ryan Lippert, Sussex has indicated sewer and water hook-ups currently cost property owners $6,950.

Another forum will be held July 31. If the advisory referendum passes, a binding referendum will be held in approximately in a year.

Debi June 28, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Not enough is known about the current proposed spending spree going on within the Village of Sussex...........look at the EXPENSIVE park proposal, the land development, the Main Street reconstruction, etc. The flyer that was handed out did not mention anything about the spenders on the Village of Sussex board. The majority of local resident do not know about the park proposal.............NOTHING has been in the Sussex Sun...........only place has been on Sussex Patch and a quick mention on Channel 12. Those people voting in this on-line poll need to look beyond the current LOW numbers being thrown around...........look at the potential HUGE DEBT we would be expected to pay. As I've said before.........it's time for a tax payer revolt.............
Andy Ambrosius (Editor) June 28, 2012 at 03:36 PM
@Debi - I agree that there are some MAJOR projects going on in Sussex lately. Between the Village Park, Main Street, the new corporate park, and others, Sussex is in for some big changes. It's really scary for some residents. However, where is the line drawn saying certain construction is too much? Everyone likes cool, new facilities to use -- and some of the projects like Main Street have to be done b/c the 50-year-old utilities below the street are falling apart. Don't you think that, here and there, tax money needs to be used for certain projects? Not criticizing -- just being the devil's advocate. ;)
Common sense sussex June 28, 2012 at 04:50 PM
@Andy just to let you know this topic has been discussed many years ago and they village board decided to do the cheap fix and Mr. Goetz was part of that choice I think he did not want to spend money at that time but now he is willing to spend anytime the board feels like. It was only to be around a 5 year patch and it has now been over 12 years or more I think. I understand your new to the area but keep in mind the people who have lived here a while will have to keep the board in check and remind them. Just a reminder regarding the new corporate center, the last major board change is when the village decieded to get into the act of buying up land, as of now none of the land they have purchased has been put to use. The two lots on main st and the others on Dweyer dr. Changes can come if they keep this up.
Andy Ambrosius (Editor) June 28, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I am new to the area, but don't underestimate what I know! :) I know the village recently patched Main Street, and that's ONE of the reasons why they're moving forward with a full-blown overhaul of the street -- the resurfacing of the street was only meant to be a short-term fix. It's purpose is over, and now Sussex really has to address the failing utility lines beneath the road, along with multiple other issues, like demands from the DNR to fix the two streams running beneath the street. The village isn't doing fancy stuff like roundabouts and widening the road anymore (cost savings) - they really just need to repair what normal residents don't even think about. In addition, I'm completely aware of the properties Sussex purchased in the past, especially the ones on Main Street. What I'm unaware of, however, is if those two properties were going to be developed and managed by MLG, a company that has successfully marketed and sold spaces in two other corporate parks and three other residential subdivisions in Sussex. I don't think the village had a solid plan with those failed properties you just referenced. Anyway - Yes, I'm new to the area, but I know...
Common sense sussex June 28, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Andy this did this over 12 years ago as I lived on main st so if that is recent wow. Also back at that time they wanted to put all the utilities underground for the electric but it would have been at the cost of the village or the home owner, they still want to do this and that cost is not going to be cheap so I do not see cost savings. Just remember Mr. Smith is telling you what he wants you to hear but there is a lot you are not hearing from him. Back when the road was done before the village board and staff was told by the DPW staff that they need to redo it at that time and they did not listen to the village employees. Why all of a sudden now? Like I said Mr. Goetz was part of this at that time. Regarding the properties, if MLG is unable to get the money from a bank like they said why use the village to fund this, umm just like Menomonee Falls? They have been successful in the past but this is a different enviroment now and we still have alot of vacant office and industrial space in the village we do not need anymore right now.
Andy Ambrosius (Editor) June 28, 2012 at 06:15 PM
As a reporter, I'm obviously talking with angry residents and officials who don't believe these are the best ideas for the village. In my last comment, I simply listed off facts. You yourself said the resurfacing project was only a short term fix, and I affirmed that with things village officials have been saying at meetings. They agree that the paving was only a short-term fix. You yourself said those properties on Main Street are unsuccessful, and I agreed that they aren't. I don't think the village had a concrete plan to develop them. Then I noted that the other developments by MLG in Sussex are successful. These are all things everyone knows. No need to get hostile.
Lois Liebau-Templin June 29, 2012 at 02:25 AM
May I say that we appreciate all the views on the Sussex-Lisbon merger. We moved out to the Town of Lisbon almost three years ago. There is so much that we do not know about, and after going to the meeting, last night, we are more informed about the merger. No one notified us of the first meeting, so we thank the Menomonee Falls Patch for posting an article about the meeting. Then, we knew what was going on. So, please, keep the information coming.

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