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Merrill group plans rally to demand ousting of city administrator, finance director

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By Shereen Siewert

MERRILL — A group of demonstrators will rally Tuesday afternoon at Merrill City Hall to demand action on firing two top city officials.

Eric Ott tells Wausau Pilot and Review the peaceful rally will be held at 4:30 p.m., one hour before a special meeting of the city’s personnel and finance committee. The Merrill City Council goes on to meet at 7 p.m. at Merrill City Hall, 104 E. First Street.

The “picket line style” rally is being held to send a message to the finance committee to take action and fire City Administrator David Johnson and City Finance Director Kathy Unertl.

“They have overspent on an astonishing scale, spent funds not approved by the council, continually disrespect citizens who ask questions or do not agree with them with rude and harsh words as well as arrogant attitudes,” Ott wrote. “They do not respect the elected mayor and purposefully mislead him. They have worked out shady TIF and TID deals that are in many cases failing and are now falling on the taxpayer to fund.

“In their latest “game,” they misled us about our property tax increase, raising them beyond what the council intended when they passed the budget,” Ott said.

The bottom line is they have stolen from every one of us with outrageous spending and no concern for those of us who have to pay the bill!

Ott is encouraging demonstrators to bring signs, remain civil, and stay for the 7 p.m. council meeting to voice concerns during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Merrill Mayor Derek Woellner asked for Johnson’s resignation in 2018. But in August, Merrill’s City Council voted to retain the embattled administrator.

The controversy in city government heated up in November, when Woellner vetoed the council’s proposed 2019 budget, which contained a 4.7 percent increase in property taxes. The council later approved a revised budget that trimmed the increase to 3 percent.

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