Mice infestation closes building at Prairie Home Cemetery

The main building at Prairie Home Cemetery, which includes a chapel and office space, is closed to the public due to an infestation of mice and other rodents.

 

WAUKESHA — The Common Council approved amending the 2021 Capital Improvement Plan budget to allow for funds to be used in the buildings capital account and more for repairs to the Prairie Home Cemetery Building Tuesday night.

A motion was approved in an 11-4 vote Tuesday, with Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings, Alderman Dean Lemke, Alderman Eric Payne and Alderman Cory Payne voting no.

The motion was to amend a 2021 CIP line item for $28,476.40 of capital carryover funds and to amend a 2021 budget line item appropriated fund balance for $4,627.60.

The repairs and sanitation costs for the building total $41,000 in order to make it sufficient for reopening due to a mice and rodent infestation.

Sanitation budget amendments were approved unanimously in the consent agenda.

Cummings asked if the city will attempt to save the carpet in the building since Friends of the Cemetery, a nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of Prairie Home Cemetery, donated the carpet. City Administrator Kevin Lahner said he would try to do so and also update Cummings on the preservation of the carpet.

Prior to the vote, Joe Nicosia, president of the Friends of the Cemetery, asked the council to support the group in the future in their goal to continue preserving the cemetery.

Building repairs began last Monday, prior to the council’s approval, due to the repairs being an emergency.

A motion by Cummings, which did not pass, was to utilize the requested funds from the contingency fund, stating the funds shouldn’t come from a cemetery fund.

Alderman Joe Pieper, also the chair of the Finance Committee, said using city contingency for an enterprise fund is against financial policies.

Cummings, who sat on the Cemetery Commission, said the cemetery has struggled with infestations for a while and that the repairs were not necessary, stating the building is 100 years old.

“It’s in the middle of a prairie next to natural burial,” she said. “They will have mice even after we approve all these expenses and move on.”

Alderwoman Elizabeth Moltzan said she disagreed with Cummings’ analysis, and said the cemetery director found a valid issue at the building and brought it to the city’s attention.

Alderman Rick Lemke said he saw the photos of the infestation, which were brought before the Cemetery Commission, and based on the report he approves the repairs and he “doesn’t know if he would have stayed” if he were the new cemetery director.

Near the end of the meeting new appointments were made to city commissions for 2021-22. New Cemetery Commissioners include Alderman Frank McElderry and Alderwoman Cassie Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said while she is happy with her appointment, she feels Cummings should have the opportunity to remain on the Cemetery Commission.