Lively public comment session at Ontonagon village meeting

ONTONAGON — There were several points of contention and some points of agreement during the public comment period at Monday’s Village Council meeting.

Before the Public Hearing on the village’s annual budget was opened for discussion, Ontonagon Township resident Sue Lockhart questioned whether the council had already unanimously voted and approved the budget.

This prompted resident Joe Haas to say anyone who is not a village resident should not make comments critical of the council.

“You’re doing a good job,” Haas stated to the council. “I just wonder why a nonresident keeps picking on our village to cause trouble.”

This drew applause from those sitting around him.

Jeff Wenzel, who stated he is not a resident of the village, commented, “My tax dollars pay for them to sit there, too. I have the right to say what I think is going wrong or right.”

That prompted an individual to ask whether Wenzel pays taxes to the village.

“Yes I do,” he said.

Lockhart said Ontonagon Township residents pay taxes to the village for fire protection and school taxes.

This drew the ire of council supporters who questioned what fire department taxes had to do with the village.

“Those taxes go to the village,” responded Lockhart.

This prompted Council President Ken Waldrop to state: “If you’re going to argue amongst yourselves, take this outside.”

Tom Hamilton, who has questioned the village’s financial dealings and records over the last two years, was repeatedly interrupted when he wanted to ask whether property taxes will be raised this year.

“A simple yes or no,” he said.

“State your name for the record,” Waldrop responded.

After Hamilton gave his name, Waldrop stated the village’s meetings are being recorded and the tape recorder doesn’t know who it is who is speaking.

Hamilton then asked the council if the sewer and water rates were going to be raised.

Waldrop stated those questions will be answered later in the meeting.

“I try not to make items from the floor questions and answers,” he said. “We’re holding our meeting. We’re trying to conduct our business through an agenda.”

Waldrop then said, “Have you ever gone to the village manager and asked him that question, Tom, before the meeting?”

When Hamilton said he did not, Waldrop said, “Thank you. If you did, you would have gotten an answer from him.”

Hamilton continued to state he is not blaming the current council for anything to deal with the water and sewer.

“I would assume that you’re on the council, and you people would not what’s going on,” Hamilton stated. “Apparently I can’t get an answer, so I have to wait another month.”

Waldrop stated that the budget’s public hearing is coming up later in the meeting.

“(We’ll) be happy to answer those questions,” Waldrop said.

Jim Miles commended the Public Works Departmenrt for the job it has done with snow removal. This drew everyone’s applause.

Gunnard Kyllonen asked the council to take action against his neighbor, who Kyllonen states brought and parked a vehicle in his neighbor’s driveway this past November.

“Now that vehicle has been parked there all winter and is covered in snow. It should be removed from there. It’s an eyesore for one thing, and it’s an abandoned vehicle. I’d appreciate if you can take some action and have it removed.”

The vehicle on South Fourth Street was referred to Erickson per the blight ordinance.

“We do have spring notices coming up,” commented Waldrop.