March 17th, 2015

Jefferson County Board Approves New Satellite Facilities Project

SchroederJimThe Jefferson Country Board of Supervisors approved the construction of two new highway satellite facilities in Lake Mills and Concord and discussed approval of borrowing to pay for the facilities.

Highway and Infrastructure committees had an initial proposal of $1.2 million, but the county staff was able to reduce costs.

Jefferson County budgeted $17.89 million in general obligation bonds in 2014 to fund the construction of the new main facility. Of the $17.89 million, $750,000 was was budgeted for each satellite shops, making a total of 1.5 million.

Approval of the project consists of two 12,500-square-foot facilities, costing $500,000.

Previously, the county supervisors deemed it necessary to issue $3.5 million in general obligation bonds to fund the project. Country Board of Supervisors issued that the amount does not exceed $4.39 million. On Tuesday, it was authorized that $3.98 million in general obligation bonds would be the set cost to fund the project.

These satellite shops are used for storing emergency highway traffic control devices. New facilities are being built in order to reduce critical response time during winter emergencies and snowstorms.

Highway Commissioner Bill Kern explained that the new locations would reduce manpower required for winter maintenance and minimizes overlapping of current snowplow routes.

Supervisor Amy Rinard questioned why the county is in need of two new satellite facilities when there already are four.

Kern stated, “The existing sites, based on where they were placed many years ago, are in very inefficient spots.”

Kern explained how the current facilities are inconvenient locations and how they are missing key factors that the new facilities will have. Reduction in critical response time is the main reason for the new facilities to be built.

Supervisor John Kannard brought up a concern about cost. Kannard stated, “In 50 years, we wouldn’t break even.”

Supervisor Carlton Zentner agreed with Kannard. Zentner stated how the costs associated with borrowing money outweighed the potential for cost savings.

Those in favor of the project included George Jaeckel, Greg David, Walt Christensen, Mike Kelly and Ron Buchanan.

Kelly and Jaeckel commented on the benefit of having a reduced response time in an emergency that could save someone’s life outweigh many of the cost factors.

David reminded the board how the cost of the two satellite facilities was significantly scaled back from the initial price of $1.5 million per site.

Construction on the new main highway shop in Jefferson is 90% complete. Supervisor Jaeckel stated that the project has some minor check offs remaining and will be done by the end of March. The facilities will begin to be moved into the first week of April.

The old highway shop in Jefferson has yet to be determined for demolition or remodeling. The county might sell or demolish all previous buildings and sell the land. The only location that will remain will be the Concord location.

In other discussions during Tuesday’s meeting:

•Transportation planning agreement authorized in the portion of Jefferson County including the Milwaukee urbanized area.
•Approval of new radio equipment to have 911 systems replaced and converted from analog to digital.
•Memorial for former county board supervisor Kathleen Grosskoff.
•Proclamation of K-9 Veterans Day for March 13.
•Proclamation of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month to be in April.


February 24th, 2015

Common Council Meeting



Whitewater common council members met on Feb. 17th to discuss various topics, but the main issue discussed was Governor Scott Walker’s state budget cuts. City manager, Cameron Clapper, presented the common council with a PowerPoint to outline the possible affects of the budget to the city of Whitewater

The state budget is currently in its initial review stage, but has a little less of an impact on municipality compared to previous years. The budget will cause change in areas such as economic development, parks, trails and natural resources, property assessments, transportation, the recycling program and public schools.

The proposed budget will be about $300 million dollars. A main concern about the proposed budget was the impact on the University of UW-Whitewater. The university is a significant driver of the economy in the Whitewater community, which causes a major concern for the city.

From the proposed budget, UW-Whitewater would receive a 30% or greater cut of General Purpose Revenue (GPR). The university already has the lowest GPR out of the UW-system. The state will be cutting municipalities and requiring the university to pay for it themselves

Due to the budget cut in the UW-system, there will be a funding reduction of 13%. This will leave UW-Whitewater with a 30% funding cut, which will cost the university somewhere between $6.4 and $8 million.

The 13% funding reduction will cause a freeze on in-state tuition. Clapper stated that in an attempt to make up for this loss, the University would have to raise out-of-state tuition by $5,000 per student.

With this increase in tuition, officials believe that this would stop Illinois and other out-of-state students from attending the university. The result would be reduction in student population, and money being generated into the city.

The budget affects on UW-Whitewater will not only cause strain on the student population, it will directly affect the city economically. There is a fear of a funding decline in the city due to the loss of students.

Council member and UW-Whitewater alumni, Stephanie Abott believes the city of Whitewater receives a lot of its funding from students of the university. The community would be hit hard economically by the loss students who provide stability in the city.

A fear of students being lost is one concern along with losing residence associated with the university. Professors of the university will also be affected by the state budget.

At the beginning of the meeting council member, Brienne Diebolt-Brown, became emotional about the budget cut affecting the university of UW-Whitewater and it’s professors. Professors will most likely loss amenities they need, which will cause them to move on to different universities and leave the city of Whitewater.

In addition to the state budget affects of the university, Clapper includes other impacted areas of the city of Whitewater. The parks, trials and natural resources department will receive cuts that deny any more land purchase.

The transportation budget will receive a 4% increase within the city’s general transportation. This will include $623.2 million in total funding.

Public schools will have $150 per pupil categorical aid. This will make up for budget cuts in 2015-2016.

Other topics discussed Tuesday by the board:

  • Approved the UWWPS Alternate Site Set-Up Agreement where the city of Whitewater and UWWPS agree on the use of the City’s Emergency Operations Center in the case of an emergency.
  • Approved the draft agreement of WIN for use of city conduit.
  • Review requested on engineering services with Strand Associates on the Downtown Armory ramp and stairs replacement proposal.
  • Discussion of Partnership for Prosperity Resolution

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January 25th, 2015

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