LANNON - Lannon's water issues have yet again surfaced after the Lannon Village Board censured Trustee Tom Gudex on Feb. 8 for violating open meetings law.
Gudex is running against Village President David Nagler and Trustee Jerry Newman for the president seat in April. Gudex claims the board members are trying to sabotage his campaign.
"It’s trying to make me look bad before the election," Gudex said. "Lannon has this little clique in town, but people in Lannon are getting sick of these closed meetings. This is the reason I’m running for village president. I’m just sick of this.”
The issue that led to Gudex's censuring started in 2008, Nagler said.
"State Highway 74 was Main Street, back in 2008 — maybe a little later — when the Whispering Ridge water system went in, the state came in and repaved Highway 74," Nagler said. "When the state comes in to repave the road, you cannot cut into that road for three years. Our water main runs down Main Street, so what the administration did was put some alternate mains coming off that main down Good Hope Road and further down Main Street in the event that if somebody needed to hook up to water, they could without cutting into Highway 74. When that was done, the village borrowed money to put in these mains. Usually, they have the developers pay for the infrastructure because they have the potential of making profits off their development, so what was put into play was an ordinance called the Main Extension Rule.”
Lannon has 114 customers out of 400 on the water system; the remaining customers use private wells, like Gudex does for his property on Main Street.
"He has two properties there that he rents out, so they are income properties," Nagler said. "They are not primary residences. He came and hooked up to water. He said I want to help the village out and have a couple of customers."
The problem escalated when Nagler was elected as village president in 2013 because Clerk Brenda Klemmer was elected at the same time; Nagler said neither of them were aware of the ordinance, so Gudex was not appropriately charged for the water usage at the time.
"Neither of us were aware of this main extension rule, so when Tom came to hook up, she just basically charged him for the hook-up charge," Nagler said.
Just last year — eight years after the initial hook up — Gudex said he received the correct bill from the village: $319,000.
"He hired an attorney and he’s trying to find holes in that law so he doesn’t have to pay this," Nagler said.
As a member of the board, Gudex was not supposed to discuss the water issue with residents of Lannon because it was part of closed meetings discussion, according to Nagler, but Gudex called the residents of a property who are on the same water line as his properties anyway.
"I did talk to them, but it was stuff that was public knowledge," Gudex said.
Gudex said he told the residents to get legal counsel regarding the water hook up.
“After our closed session, he went directly to what he thought was an interested party and basically told a whole bunch of information that was discussed at the closed session," Nagler said. "The Wisconsin statute clearly states it’s confidential information regarding legal actions or financial business."
As part of the passed resolution, the village got statements from three people who said Gudex called them to talk about the water issue.
"He violated the trust of our village," Nagler said.
Because Gudex owes money to the village, he was removed of his two chairmanships on the board by Nagler.
“Tom can’t even run a meeting," Nagler said. "He has been chair of our personnel and finance committee and when this came up that he owed the village money, I couldn’t in clear conscience have him as chair of the finance committee. I had to remove him of his chairmanship. People on the board said we can't have a loose gun out there violating statues.”
Nagler admitted slapping Gudex with a huge water bill years later was an oversight by the village.
"I can’t comment on the exact dates he received the bill, but I will say it was an oversight of the village," Nagler said. "I do agree with that. It was an oversight that when he came in to tell Brenda (village clerk) that he wanted to hook up, all she knew to charge him for was the hook-up fee. It doesn’t negate the fact that the ordinance was in place. The oversight was unfortunate, but the ordinance is still there.”