In the wake of its departure from the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce earlier this year, the town of Lake Tomahawk is considering whether to charge a licensing fee for tourist rooming houses.
The question was brought up briefly at last week's meeting of the town board.
Three administrative review permits (ARP) applications for rooming houses were approved by the town board and town chairman George DeMet said that makes the total of ARP applications "six going on seven so far this year.
The seventh ARP application was submitted after he put together the meeting agenda, he noted.
"I'm thinking by this time next year, we could have 20 or more applications for tourist rooming houses, people renting out their homes," DeMet said. "So, since we're no longer part of the Minocqua chamber and not collecting room tax, I think it might be advisable for us to adopt a reasonable fee, a yearly fee, for those that are participating in this program."
He acknowledged there wouldn't be action taken at the meeting, but the reason he was bringing it up was for 2020 budget preparation.
"It's something we should consider, OK?" DeMet said. "I would ask you all to think about what would be a reasonable fee in that effect."
Staying on a "fee theme," there were two other fees on the agenda DeMet wanted town supervisors Larry Hoffman and Stephanie Sowatzka to think about, one for fire number replacement - the town charges a $75 fee for each driveway inspection and fire number installation - and the other a fee and/or deposit for use of the tables and chairs away from the Raymond F. Sloan Community Center.
He said when there's a fire number replacement, the town hasn't been getting any money.
"Now, it's been the policy that if the post to a sign is destroyed in some mishap of a snowplow, which doesn't usually happen because the numbers are placed far enough off the roadway and we don't charge for that. But I think we should consider a reasonable fee for that as well."
DeMet said he came up with a fee of $25.
"If all they have to do is replace a sign on a post," he said. "However, sometimes, the post needs to be replaced as well, so I'm thinking maybe $50 if it included the post."
As for the Sloan tables and chairs, DeMet said the town has had several requests this summer from residents who want to use them for various functions outside of the community center.
One example mentioned was an upcoming wedding next month in which the resident was planning to host a party of approximately 60 people at their home.
"They requested chairs and tables from the community center," DeMet said. "Do you think this is something we should get into? And if so, what are we going to charge them for it?"
Up until now, there hasn't been an issue, he noted.
"But I could see where it might create an issue," DeMet said. "People start thinking this is easily accessible stuff rather than going out and renting it, they're coming to the town and saying 'Hey, you've got a bunch of tables and chairs. Can we use them this weekend?'"
DeMet said he doesn't mind loaning the tables and chairs to citizens who take care of them.
"You know, bring them back in a timely fashion," he said. "There have been one or two circumstances where they didn't show up when they were supposed to. I got called on a weekend and had to open the door and let 'em in to return the materials that should have been three or four days prior."
DeMet was asked if a deposit would be required.
"That's what we're talking about," he said. "A fee and/or a deposit, you know? Yeah, if something happens to these tables, they're not cheap. There again, you know, we don't have to come up with it tonight, but I want you to be thinking about it, OK?"
DeMet said he hopes to begin 2020 budget discussions before the end of this month or the first part of October.
Before the discussion of the possible implementation of fees, the town board heard a presentation from Ned Greedy, representing the Lake Tomahawk Lake Association, which is requesting a contribution from the town of $7,000 for 2020, increase from $5,000 the lake association requested for 2019.
After the fee discussion, the town board heard an update on a storm siren for the town.
Hoffman said he'd talked about grant possibilities with the Wisconsin Towns Association and Oneida County Emergency Management director Ken Kortenhof.
"Nobody's got any extra money and nobody knows of any grants," Hoffman said.
If the town would go ahead with the project on its own, the estimated cost is $25,000 to $30,000.
"I went through the budget today and I don't know where you'd steal it from," Hoffman said.
DeMet suggested the town could put money away each year.
"A couple thousand, maybe $5,000 a year and over a period of time," he said.
Decided to place an ad in The Lakeland Times advertising the town's one available liquor license.
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at email@example.com.
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