Highway Budget Proposal passed by Jefferson County Board

On  March 10th, the Jefferson County Board Committee met to discuss reconstructing a new highway, building 2 new satellite facilities in Lake Mills and Concord and the large amount of money that will be spent on both projects.

Highway and Infrastructure committees had an initial proposal of $1.2 million, but the cost went down by the county staff.

There are currently four satellite bases in four cities: Lake Mills, Palmyra, Ixonia and Waterloo. These cities need to replace the older bases that are currently being used.

There will be another satellite base built in the southeastern corner of the county, in addition to the new bases that will replace the 4 older bases. The new site will have to leave room to have a salt shed and satellite shop built there as well.

Jefferson County county highway commissioner Bill Kern said that these locations would be more convenient for both plow routes and commuting employees.

Kern believes that the new locations for the satellites will reduce the amount of maintenance and minimize the amount of snow plowing needed throughout the day.

Supervisor  of District 9 Amy Rinard asked why the county needs two new satellite facilities when there are four bases already built and running. Kern responded by saying that the current bases have been around for a long time and that they are in inefficient spots.

Kern added that the current facilities are inconvenient because they are missing key factors that the new facilities will be able to provide.

Building these new bases could reduce the initial emergency response time in the winter by 30 to 45 minutes. The new sites will include a fully functioning 12,500 square foot satellite with a salt shed.

The board issued that the project will not exceed $4.39 million and that the set cost for the project will cost 3.98 million in general obligation bonds.

Each new satellite shop built will cost $750,000 and the total will be $1.5 million out of the $17.89 million saved in 2014 from general obligation bonds to fund the main satellite facility.

Building the new Lake Mills base would cut 90 miles of overlapping routes, saving drivers money on gas.

The proposal stated that the Palmyra site would be demolished, followed by the sale of the property. The Lake Mills site can either be sold as it is right now or demolished and sold. The Waterloo and Ixonia sites plan to be sold with the properties.

The overall vote to build the satellite bases was passed by a vote count of 25-4.

The updated budget proposal will include base improvements totaling $440,000, a private well costing $15,000-$20,000 and interior build inside with a unisex bathroom costing $40,000.

Highway committee member George Jaeckel updated the status of the main highway shop on I-94. The project is 90% done and at the end of March, the project will be complete. Jaeckel also said that there are only minor objectives before the highway is complete. The date to open the highway will be within the first weekend of April.

The board hasn’t decided whether the old highway shop in Jefferson will be set for demolition or remodeling. The county could sell or demolish all of the previous buildings and sell the land.

In addition, the Jefferson County board members:

  • Approved that March 13 of each year is to be known as K-9 Veterans Day.
  • Approved that the month of April is to be known as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.
  • Reviewed the annual reports from the county clerk, medical examiner, register of deeds, and treasurer.
  • Approved the sale of general obligation county building bonds not to exceed $3.98 million.
  • 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

Common Council Meeting: State Budget

The Whitewater Common Council met on Tuesday, February 17th to discuss and vote on resolutions and considerations, including Governor Scott Walker’s proposed state budget cuts for 2015-2016.

Gov. Walker’s proposed state budget cuts was the main topic discussed and how it impact Whitewater. City Manager Cameron Clapper presented all the details of the budget to the council and audience. The proposed budget is approximately $300 million. The main concern with the budget cuts will be how big of an impact it will be for UW-Whitewater, which is a driving force for the city of Whitewater.

The General Purpose Revenue, funding for UW-Whitewater from the state, would be cut by 30% or more. This would cost UW-Whitewater between $6.4 and $8 million.   UW-Whitewater already has the lowest GPR of all the UW schools. UW-Whitewater would be required to pay for municipalities by themselves.

The budget would have UW-system funding reduced by 13%, which would  put a freeze on in-state tuition. In order to make up for that money, the budget will increase tuition for out-of state students by $5,000, which will decrease the amount of interest from those in Illinois and other states that would want to enroll at Whitewater.

The entire council shared concerns for how the GPR cut would impact the entire city, not just the students enrolled at UW-Whitewater. The vote to support UW-Whitewater’s opposition of the proposed budget was unanimous.

Council members Stephanie Abbott, District 2, and Sarah Bregant, District 5, expressed how UW-Whitewater is the main reason why they are who they are today. “The budget cut for the University is not only a student issue, but also a city issue.” Sarah Bregant, District 5, said.

With the proposed budget, the funds for the city of Whitewater would decrease and changes would have to be made to parks, trails, school system, natural resources, transportation, and property insurance.

There will be a 4% increase in general transportation aids that was approved in the 2013-2015 budget.

Clapper stated property taxes will increase in Whitewater and that the city would lose a land purchase resource because the budget says that funding would stop for the Modify Urban Forestry Grant Program. For a “catergorical aid” cut, schools in Whitewater will lose $150 for each pupil enrolled and it will equal to $290,000 for the 2015-2016 school year. Clapper also stated that there is an opt-out clause for communities to take care of properties themselves.

“This will be a severe and significant effect on the community” said Clapper.

A request was proposed by the Parks and Recreation department in Whitewater to replace the ramp and stairs at the old Armory in downtown Whitewater. The total cost of the project would be $100,000 for complete removal and replacement of stairs and ramp and the new structures would extend out into the parking lot. The project would be done by Strand Associates. Council member Lynn Binnie proposed that an electric lift be installed for easier access to the Armory.

Chris Brady, citizen of Whitewater, stated that the Armory is a local landmark and it should make it a requirement to fix the Armory. Council member Ken Kidd argued that the total cost for the project seemed high, but the motion passed unanimously.

Other topics that were discussed Tuesday, February 17th:

  • Discussion on agreement with WIN for use of city conduit along Main Street (request by City Manager and IT Services)
  • Adopting the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Partnership for Prosperity Agenda (request by City Manager)
  • Approval of Memorandum of Understanding between City of Whitewater and UWW Police Services for use of the City’s Emergency Operations Center in the event of an emergency (request by Police Chief)

For more information, visit www.whitewater-wi.gov/government/agendas-minutes/common-council


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