Town of Lisbon - Organized and vocal opposition to a proposal to consolidate the Town of Lisbon and Village of Sussex surfaced during a nearly three hour long public forum attended by an estimated 150 town residents at Hamilton High School.
Town Chairman Matt Gehrke acknowledged there was a different attituded at tonight's forum compared to a forum held in April to discuss whether Lisbon should consolidate with Sussex or continue providing local government services as a town.
"In April, people were pretty evenly divided between consolidation and trying to continue to maintain town governnment. Tonight, it appears a majority are opposed to consolidation. If that would have happened in the April meeting, we may have not have been here tonight," he said.
"I think what happened was the people who went to the meeting in April were looking for information. Since then, they have found the information and many of them don't want their taxes increased and they don't want to consolidate with Sussex," said Jane Stadler, a long time town resident who has served on both the Town Board and the Plan Commission.
Supervisor Dan Fischer and former Town Chairman Mike Reid circulated flyers during the meeting voicing their opposition to the consolidation.
Fischer is the only member of the five member town board who has expressed opposition to the consoldiation. He received a hearty round of applause from the audience when he was introduced at the forum.
"Fischer for President" someone shouted after he asserted that consolidation would force Lisbon taxpayers to help the village pay off an $18 million debt.
He argued that some town residents could be required to hook up to Sussex sewer and water and regulations imposed by the village could detract from the rural residential atmosphere of the Lisbon community.
Other town board members have argued consolidation with Sussex may be the most viable alternative to providing residents of the community with high levels of government services at affordable tax rates.
In addition, consolidation could end decades of fueding between the two municipal governments, according to proponents of the consolidation.
Voters are being asked to advise the town board in a non binding referendum on August 14 whether to continue pursuing consolidation with the village. Gehrke and the other town boards member have said they will drop the proposal if it is defeated in the referendum.