Jefferson County Board Approves New Satellite Facility Project

JEFFERSON, WIS. – The Jefferson County Board approved the project for two new satellite facilities Tuesday, totaling in $1.5 million of the almost $18 million bond that the city set aside for new construction projects.

These satellite facilities are used for storage of emergency highway traffic patrol vehicles, in hopes to cut down on emergency response times, especially in bad weather situations.  The facilities will be built in Lake Mills and Concord. The county is also might consider adding satellite shops in Palmyra and Ixonia in the future.

Jefferson County was the only county to keep its original satellite shops, built in the 1930’s, while other counties built new ones.  It is cheaper to build new satellites instead of renovating the old facilities because they are missing many key components the new facilities will have, and the wear and tear on the original buildings is significant.

Highway Commission Bill Kerns’ presentation noted that the new locations would reduce labor during winter season and minimize the overlap of snow plow routes. He also continued to say that the existing satellite shops are out of date and are in “very inefficient spots.”

The Jefferson County Board reduced the initial project cost of the facilities, proposed by the highway and infrastructure committee, from $1.2 million each, to $1.5 million total.  The new facilities will be 12,500 square feet each.

The construction of the new main highway shop in Jefferson is 90% completed and hopes are that it will be finished by June.  The existing facility is on the river, which is prime property. Once the new highway shop is finished, the old one will be demolished, and the property would be used to create a medical school in Jefferson.

The County Board received three separate 20-year bonds in 2014 for the new construction projects, to save on the cost of interest to the county in hopes of using the saved money on future projects. Expenses for these projects are rising faster than the revenue is coming in so the county is looking to find efficiencies to save money.

 

In other action Tuesday, the board:

  • Approved a memorial resolution for former boardmember Kathleen Groskopf, who passed away in February.
  • Proclaimed March 13th as K-9 Veterans Day to honor military and police dogs and their handlers.
  • Proclaimed April 2015 as Child Abuse and Neglect Protection Month.
  • Approved a $281,467 contract with General Communications to upgrade the public safety radio and dispatch system in the Sheriff’s Department.
  • Approved transportation plan covering a 2.7 square mile area along Highway 16 from Oconomowoc (Milwaukee metropolitan area) in an attempt to bring funding to the area.

Whitewater Council Unanimous in Vote on Proposed Budget

By Andrew Lowe

The Whitewater Common Council passed a resolution, unanimously, on the projected effect of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Tuesday night. The Common Council has no say in the state budget, but hope that they can have their voice heard at the Capitol through this resolution.

The proposed budget would cut $300 million from the UW System over the next two years with UW-Whitewater losing anywhere from $6.4 million to $8 million in each of those two years.  That cut would impact the university, as well as the city of Whitewater itself.

“I am surprised at what the cuts would do the university,” said Councilwoman and UW-Whitewater Alum Stephanie Abbott. “I am also afraid of what that will do to our city.”

Councilwoman Brienne Diebolt-Brown stressed the importance of the university to the city of Whitewater citing student population, and the culture and economics the students bring to the city.

“When students come to school here, they spend their money here,” said Diebolt-Brown. “The students also add so much the cultural climate of Whitewater.”

Councilwoman Lynn Binnie referred to the student population as a “significant driver” of economic development in the city of Whitewater.

Diebolt-Brown, who is married to a professor at UW-Whitewater, also mentioned the effects the proposed cuts would have on the educational staff at the university.

“With rollover sick leave, and their research sabbaticals being cut, amazing professors won’t come and teach, and the ones we already have here will leave,” said Diebolt-Brown.

City Manager Cameron Clapper brought up to the council “tongue in cheek” that the university could potentially make up the budget gap by raising tuition $5,000 a year for students from out-of-state.  UW-Whitewater has a large number of out-of-state students, with the majority coming from Illinois. Increasing tuition that high would drive students away from Whitewater, instead of drawing them to the city, which would impact the city negatively economically.

For students in-state, Walker promised to see his previously passed tuition freeze through, which hurts the university’s budget as well.

Other impacts of the budget cut include:

  • A cut in “categorical aid” in K-12 education resulting in a $290,000 hit for the Whitewater school district
  • Elimination of stewardship grants to purchase land and improve parks and recreation areas
  • Property-tax assessments would be centralized in counties rather than cities, villages and towns

Other topics covered by the Whitewater Common Council Tuesday included:

  • Approved an agreement with the Wisconsin Independent Network (WIN) to city-owned conduits along Main Street to string fiber optic cable through the city
  • Approved a project with Strand Associates to oversee design and construction of an improved handicap-access ramp at the downtown Whitewater armory. The project is to reoair the stairs and bring the ramp up to requirement for the Americans with Disabilities. This project is expected to cost the city $100,000 but discussion on the council led to research on grants and other things to lower the cost of the project.
  • Endorsed a pact between the city police and the police of UW-Whitewater that gives the university police access to the city’s emergency operations center in the event of an emergency where the police had to retreat from campus.

 

 

For the full agenda and a way to contact Whitewater Common Council, go to http://www.whitewater-wi.gov/government/agendas-minutes/common-council