Campus Parking, Budget, Landmarks Fill Common Council Agenda

The City of Whitewater Common Council met to discuss numerous items on its’ agenda at the Whitewater Municipal building on Tuesday, Oct. 3. Specifically, the highly anticipated University of Wisconsin-Whitewater parking situation, presentation of the city budget and a debate with the Landmarks Commission filled the docket.

The parking issue for the University has been a hot-bed topic since the commencement of the fall semester of 2017. Chancellor Beverly Kopper, Vice Chancellor Grace Crickette and Chief of Police Services at UW-Whitewater, Matthew Kiederien, all spoke on behalf of the University.

“Parking is an integral part of the University that needs to be self-sustaining” Crickette explained. “If we can achieve this, we can direct resources to student success and other resources other than parking.”

Prince and Prairie are the two streets that have the most cause for concern when it comes to on-campus parking. Residents are having trouble parking on these streets, which may be attributed to permits being sold only to students, faculty and staff of the University.

Changes to parking have been discussed with the University student government. With the upcoming construction of a new residence hall, metered parking will become obsolete and will switch to permit-only parking.

The elimination of metered parking on these streets has caused a spike in prices as well. “UW-W permits went up $20, reserved parking went up $50, and daily permits rose from $3 to $5” Kiederien explained to the Council.

Concerned citizen Pam Zarinnia believes that the University should be “embarrassed” at the way this “outrageous” situation has been handled, “this needs very careful examination.”

Because of the need for increased student parking on campus, the University has opened additional parking in adjacent areas, specifically the University Center and the Center of the Arts building as a way to combat the lack of space.

City Budget

Cameron Clapper, City of Whitewater Manager, presented an oversight of the 2018 city budget on Tuesday.

The city of Whitewater is planning to spend $9,174,846 in 2018, which is a $30,000 decrease from the previous year.

As it pertains to the University, UW-Whitewater has the lowest government spending per capita in the area with approximately $3,100 suspected spending in 2018.

An important feature of this budget cycle was the addition of more long-term financial planning, which Clapper says has been missing in recent years. “We need to plan for how we address shortages in the future,” Clapper added.

Clapper suggested alternatives that could address the growing problem of reduction of future revenue. These include economic growth, replacing and updating equipment as well as a possible referendum.

While these numbers and alternatives have yet to be approved by the council, Clapper says that a “final decision is on the horizon and [he expects] the finance team will discuss city budget next week.” The next time the budget would return to the council would be Nov. 7.

On Nov. 21, a public hearing will take place to determine if the proposed plan will be approved.

Landmarks Commission

The Municipal Building was a busy place on Tuesday, with protestors congregated out front the entry doors.

Two separate ordinances were being voted on at the council meeting. The first read that the “Landmarks Commission must notify the city manager with notice of intent while exploring a city-owned potential landmark.”

The ordinance passed with ease, 6-0. Councilperson Carol McCormick was not in attendance.

The second ordinance stated that the “common council of the City of Whitewater may, by a majority vote, rescind any city-owned landmark.”

Councilman Chris Grady was the sole member of the council to vote in motion of the second proposed amendment.

Former Landmarks Commission member Kori Oberle explained why she was participating in the protest.

“This has no citizen input involved. This is not a representative democracy. [Chris] Grady is not doing his job and everyone I spoke with is asking his motivation?”

Grady would respond explaining that if a “city-owned landmark was hit with some type of natural disaster, such as a tornado, the city would have no choice but to repair it at full cost.”

The Council believes it is good to have “clarity on who owns city property,” but believe the people may have been misinformed. “The goal of this change was to treat a city-owned landmark the same as a privately-owned landmark” Grady said.

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