City of Rhinelander

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 The announcement this week that the City of Rhinelander settled with Walmart on a revised tax assessment has again put a focus on what's termed the 'Dark Store loophole'.

The tax loophole allows existing stores to be assessed the same as a store that is out of business, hence the name 'Dark Store'. This has resulted in some significant tax refunds to large retailers and a blow to city budgets and services across Wisconsin.

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A piece of state  tax law called the "Dark Store Loophole" has enabled a Rhinelander retailer to get a tax refund.

The Northwoods River News reports the city last fall settled with Walmart over three lawsuits. Using the tax loophole, the retailer said the city asked more than it should have in local property taxes.

The city settled with Walmart for just under $66,000.

What's termed the "Dark Store Loophole" enables currently operating businesses to say the city assessed the business at a higher lever than if it was closed.

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Following some high-profile incidents in the last year that nearly ended up in legal charges against members of the city government, the city is moving closer to forming an ethics board that will monitor actions of officials.

Monday, City Administrator Daniel Guild said after being asked by the council earlier this month to look at how other communities structure such a board, he said he found several examples.

Rhinelanderpickleball.net

The City of Rhinelander recently removed the aging tennis courts at Pioneer Park, and a local group is raising money to replace those courts for a fast-growing sport: pickleball.

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, ping-pong and badminton using a racket slightly larger than a ping-pong paddle over a net shorter than used in tennis.

At the park Thursday afternoon, spokesperson Maureen O'Melia stood by a banner facing South Oneida Avenue that asks for private funds to build the new courts...

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The City of Rhinelander is exploring the possibility of forming an Ethics Board.

Mayor Chris Frederickson says he approached new city attorney Steve Sorenson about how an ethics panel might work. Sorenson says he's familar with how other communities have composed these types of boards.

He says the concept is to have a group of independent individuals who have no policy making influence...

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The legal bills will need to be paid, but just how remains a question for the Rhinelander Common Council.

The city has just under $200,000 in bills owed to von Briesen for legal services over the past few months.

City Administrator Daniel Guild says there are monies in various budgeted accounts that could be used...

Northwood Golf Club

The company that has contracted with the City of Rhinelander to operate the Northwood Golf Course has been acquired by an Arizona firm.

The firm Troon announced the acquisition of Green Golf Partners of Indianapolis, Indiana. Green Golf Partners manages 18 public and private courses across five states, including Wisconsin.

Chief executive officer of Green Golf Partners, Matt McIntee, said they have the deepest respect for Troon and their entire team. He says Green Golf Partners was built using Troon as the model, and they're thrilled to collaborate and partner with Troon.

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The City of Rhinelander and Oneida County have approved a Memorandum of Understanding concerning police and fire dispatch and staffing various related units. The common council approved paying $15,000, plus an additional $1,500 as a contingency if needed.

In 2006, the city approved a one-time, $150,000 payment for the county to handle the service. Oneida County is upgrading their dispatch center and requested a city contribution along with discussions on some needs concerning staffing of emergency responders and drug investigations.

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The City of Rhinelander is hosting another deer hunt this fall.

After the public complained about a large city deer herd, the city council approved a bow-and-arrow only hunt in 2006. The hunt has been on-and-off since that time depending on the size of the herd.

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WJFW TV is reporting  test results show water from Crescent Spring on South River Rd. in the Town of Crescent has elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

Some studies have shown people exposed to PFAS may be at risk of increased cholesterol levels, worsening response to vaccines, a higher risk of thyroid disease, lower fertility in women, and an elevated risk of high blood pressure in pregnant women.

The Town of Crescent and the Oneida County Health Department recommend NOT drinking the spring water at this point.

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The Rhinelander common council this week approved an updated law concerning locating sex offenders within the city limits but left open a now-required appeals panel for offenders. Courts have determined new rules that governments large and small must have regarding sex offender locations.

One of the new provisions requires the right of appeal, as City Administrator Daniel Guild explains...

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  The recent disclosure that the City of Rhinelander shut down one of it's water wells because of contamination has prompted a city council member to check another nearby city-owned well.

City and DNR officials announced well #7 on the city's far west side had measurable amounts of what are known as PFAS, by-products of industrial chemicals and fire fighting foam.

The rest of the city's water has proven drinkable without concern.

Alderperson Lee Emmer asked Monday night about the water at the nearby Northwood Golf Club.

WXPR

A downtown Rhinelander environmental cleanup site is going to be a parking lot for the foreseeable future.

The former Lindy Cleaners building was razed and the long term result was an open lot across from city hall on Stevens St. with little commercial interest due to environmental concerns below the surface.

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The Rhinelander Common Council has approved the hiring of new legal help, but cost concerns remain among some council members.

City Attorney Carrie Miljevich's contract ends this month. Mayor Chris Frederickson has lobbied to expand the role of a legal firm, von Briesen, headquartered in Milwaukee, to take up necessary legal matters beginning June 1. The firm has done work for many municipalities, including several short-term projects for Rhinelander.

Council member Dawn Rog said using this firm would likely see a sharp increase in expenses...

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The Northwoods River News is reporting an Oneida County Sheriff's Department detective who is also a Rhinelander city council member has been placed on paid administrative leave by the Sheriff's Department.

An open records request by the Northwoods River News discovered Ryan Rossling is on leave pending an investigation into an alleged "walking quorum" of council members and Mayor Chris Frederickson.

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