PdC fire chief resigns, UTV signage postponed

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New municipal airport lease approved

By Correne Martin

The Prairie du Chien Common Council moved to accept a key department head’s resignation, postpone the next step toward signage allowing ATVs and UTVs on city streets, and approve a new municipal airport agreement including a rent schedule change—all at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The city’s fire chief, Jeff Boughton, submitted his resignation, effective Nov. 18. The resignation was acknowledged and confirmed by an 8-0 council vote. 

Boughton started with the city Dec. 28, 2017, after Harry Remz retired from the position in August that same year. With this nearly two-year stint, Boughton leaves with a total of 40 years in the fire service, including his years as chief in Prairie du Chien and the 12 years he was chief in Boscobel.

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the police and fire commission voted on two occasions, Sept. 12 and Oct. 17, to deny Boughton’s request for an extension of the fire chief’s residency requirement.

City Administrator Chad Abram said administration will work to fill the vacancy.

The ordinance previously approved that will allow ATVs and UTVs on city streets was submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for its blessing. There, it was discovered that some verbiage tweaks were necessary, clarifying what the city is designating and authorizing, so the DOT doesn’t have to officially “approve” the ordinance, according to City Attorney Lara Czajkowski Higgins. 

Just prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the adjustments were made and the recreated ordinance was complete, though not in time for proper public posting before the council meeting. So the council voted to postpone yet another approval—likely the final approval—of the ordinance. 

Then, according to Alderman Todd Myers, the DOT will need to manufacture and return the signs to the city and county for placement, making the opportunity official for recreational riders. This could take about two months, he said. The cost of the signs is being paid for by the Crawford County Ridge Runners Club. 

A new municipal airport lease agreement was approved by the council, after about a year and a half of research, outreach to other municipal airports, insurance discussions, legal work and other efforts to update the lease. 

“It was difficult to determine the methodology used in the past,” Czajkowski Higgins said. “We’re trying to be more uniform with our charges (for the hangar owners).”

Prior to this, Abram said, the city asked owners to pay per square footage of their lot(s) at the airport. The approved lease will now ask them to pay per square footage of their hangar(s) only, and not the lot. 

For example, one hangar owner paid $331.44 last year in rent, based on a 2,750 square foot lot. With the newly applied 20 cents per square foot terms, rent for the same owner will now be just $256 for his 1,280 square foot hangar.

The term for contracts under this new lease will be 10 years.

Alderman Jaaren Riebe questioned why this decision would be beneficial to the city.

“We will maintain control over the lot lease,” Czajkowski Higgins noted. 

One owner of two hangars, who said he’s been flying out of the Prairie du Chien Municipal Airport for 44 years, added that there’s “tremendous potential” at the local airport “for more positive contributions to the city.” He mentioned some of the fundraisers held at other municipal airports that have been largely successful, for example.

Within the lease, the city also has the option to pose a 2 percent increase per year in rent, and if owners sell hangars, they are required to have the new owners contact the city so there’s proper record of the contacts.

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