RAYMOND — If all goes as planned, Raymond will quietly, but officially, transform from a town into a village form of government today, marking a pivotal historical moment in the largely rural Racine County community.
On the heels of the April 2 incorporation referendum, the Town Board held a special meeting Thursday night with its attorney, H. Stanley Riffle, to hash out the next post-election steps.
More than three-quarters of Raymond’s voters favored incorporating into a village in a binding referendum question.
The Wisconsin Department of Administration, the state agency that oversees a number of issues pertaining to municipalities, needs to formally issue Raymond a certificate of incorporation. Riffle said he anticipates Raymond receiving the document Monday, setting the stage for other important processes behind-the-scenes.
Riffle combed through a litany of items on Raymond officials’ checklists — some more visible than others — including swapping out all municipal signage and documentation with the “village” designation, creating a first-ever municipal code of ordinances, a special election for a new Village Board and resident appointments to new boards and commissions.
“It’s a very interesting process that we’re going through,” Riffle said. “It doesn’t follow the usual steps of becoming incorporated.”
Riffle’s latter point was in reference to a streamlined incorporation process that is the outgrowth of a technicality enacted Jan. 1, 2018, in response to Foxconn Technology Group’s plans for an advanced-manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant.
At the time, state lawmakers created a technology manufacturing zone that gives nearby towns more flexibility in incorporating, even if they lack the standard population density requirements.
Yorkville, which incorporated into a village in 2018 after an identical successful referendum, shares the same largely rural characteristics as Raymond. Although both municipalities have long had industrial and commercial development along the Interstate 94 corridor.
Town Chairman Gary Kastenson and Raymond’s four supervisors will immediately switch to a Village Board on an interim basis. Plans call for five residents to continue serving as elected representatives of the new village.
A special election, which could give additional residents an opportunity to serve, has been tentatively slated for June 4.
At Thursday’s hourlong meeting, town officials spent the bulk of their time wrangling over the creation of a municipal-specific zoning code, which is a new concept. As a town, Raymond officials synced their zoning code up to Racine County’s, but a village designation gives the community more autonomy.
“As a village, you’ll have a whole bunch of new tools in the toolbox,” Riffle said.
In the long term, elected officials likely will hammer out some of the finer points with an outside consultant. In the short term, Riffle said the town’s existing county-replicating code can be tailored to meet the community’s needs as a village.
While the town’s name officially goes into the history books Monday, municipal clerk Linda Terry pointed out remnants will continue for the duration of 2019.
When residents receive their property tax bills in December, for instance, Terry said the documents will still say “Town of Raymond,” since the municipality started the year off with the town form of government.
Although the change in government structure is a notable milestone for Raymond, Riffle — who oversaw the incorporation of Summit in Waukesha County — said the process is relatively seamless.
“It’s not really that big of a deal,” Riffle said.
“As a village, you’ll have a whole bunch of new tools in the toolbox.” H. Stanley Riffle, Raymond’s municipal counsel