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Voters narrowly approve Brillion referendum; Pope gets spot on school board

April 4, 2023

A Brillion resident votes at City Center during the election on April 4, 2023. (David Nordby/BN)

By David Nordby

The Brillion News

BRILLION – It is difficult to have a much closer election than Brillion School District taxpayers had on Tuesday.

Voters narrowly approved the district’s three-year $4.38 million operational referendum by 32 votes.

A total of 899 (50.9%) voted in favor of it while 867 people voted against it.

The referendum money will be across three years ($815,000 for the 2023-24 school year, $1.535 million for 2024-25 and $2.03 million for 2025-26). The referendum passing will allow the school district to exceed its revenue cap up to the amount for each specific year and maintain staffing and programs.

“We knew it was going to be a tough ask no matter what,” Brillion superintendent Corey Baumgartner told the newspaper Tuesday night.

The district conducted a survey months ago. After community feedback, they shaved off more than $100,000 of the district’s budget so they could ask for less funding in the referendum.

“When you’re asking for money from your stakeholders to help you maintain your programming, we still respect that that’s a financial decision they need to make when they’re approaching the polls,” Baumgartner said.

Voters inside just the City of Brillion had 512 votes in favor of the referendum and 441 against. District voters outside of city limits voted 387 in favor and 426 against.

“For us, it allows us to maintain … high quality educational programming that we offer. With our staff, it allows us to give them, I’ll say a modest raise to be able to retain the high-quality staff that we have as well. That’s important to us. When the cost of living is 4.7 (percent), we could only give 3 (percent raise),” Baumgartner said. “And we’re not giving the cost-of-living increase here, the full increase of 8 percent because that was proposed to the community and we need to do something that is sustainable as well.”

Baumgartner said the district will only levy up to what the district needs to close its deficit.

“The more state aid that we would get, whatever the legislature and the governor settle on in a budget, the less we would need from our taxpayers therefore the less we would have to levy for,” Baumgartner said.

Chris Hoyer and Rhonda Vande Hey were reelected to the school board on Tuesday night. Timothy Pope earned the third open seat. He will replace longtime member Holly Thurow-Riahi on the board.

Baumgartner stressed, “you hate to lose” someone with Thurow-Riahi’s experience level but that he would welcome Pope “with open arms.”

Voting totals will become official when they are canvassed on April 10.

Brillion School Board

Chris Hoyer* 1,075

Timothy Pope 830

Rhonda Vande Hey* 804

John Holzschuh 677

Holly Thurow-Riahi* 670

Karen Mueller 564


Other elections

Brillion City Council will have Daniel Farrell replace Joe Levash, who did not seek reelection. Farrell was a registered write-in candidate. Tim Hanson was reelected for another term and was the only person who was a registered candidate.

Farrell beat out Kurtis Stephany and Michael Petrie, who became registered write-in candidates just days before the election.

Reedsville will have a new president. Al Schreiber ran unopposed to replace Jesse Walt, who did not seek another term. Jennifer Maertz, Bobbie Reedy and Terry Hanson will all remain on the village board after they were unopposed incumbents.

Katie Baroun (985 votes) and Andrew Maertz (926) earned the two spots on the Reedsville School Board. Travis Grimm, a registered write-in, received 82 votes.

Voters in Hilbert and Wrightstown had school and village elections that were not contested or did not have enough candidates running for the positions.

Brillion City Council

Tim Hanson* 737

Daniel Farrell 155

Kurtis Stephany 29

Michael Petrie 10



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