At last night’s Whitewater Common Council meeting, the council discussed the issues of university parking, the budget, and city owned Landmarks.

The council and The University of Wisconsin Whitewater continued their discussions regarding parking on and around campus. Chancellor Beverly Kopper, Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs Grace Crickett and Police Services Chief Matthew Kiederlen represented the university and presented the policies for parking regulations and enforcement to the council. The issue stems from the university’s decision to remove parking meters from Prince and Prairie streets, requiring people to pay for a parking pass to park on those streets, and the cost increase for parking permits. Many residents and council members feel that these new changes are unfair to the tax paying community.

Whitewater resident and former university employee Pam Zarinnia believes this is an issue of “double taxation” and said, “I think it is absolutely outrageous what they have done with the streets on either side of the campus. I am embarrassed to be part of a city that basically let them do that and get away with it.

Ald. James Allen also addressed concerns that nearby residents are being affected by the expansion of people from the university parking in neighborhoods as a result of limited parking and permit cost increases.

Despite the concerns from the council and residents, the current memorandum of understanding states that since the university leases Prince and Prairie streets from the city, they have the ability to regulate and enforce parking as they see fit. While no true action was taken at this meeting, the council discussed the issue further in executive session and will continue to address it in future meetings.

Zarinnia, in her comments also brought up the issue of the safety of students crossing in the crosswalk in front of the Anderson Library. She stated that the current situation is unsafe and that, “I really don’t want to see another dead person on that crossing.”

Since the issue was not on the agenda, the council agreed to review it at another meeting.

The Budget

Following discussions of parking was City Manager Cameron Clapper’s budget presentation. The budget is still in the planning stage and has not been approved yet. The 2018 budget is anticipated to be approved by Nov. 21, 2017. Here are some of the major points of the proposed budget.

  • 2018 Budget $9,174,846 which is roughly $30,000 less than last year.
  • The source of revenue is primarily from taxes and intergovernmental revenue
  • Minor increases and reductions in various funding, not any drastic changes for this budget.
  • Addressed the need for a long term financial plan.
  • Major issue in the near future is a gradual reduction in revenue. Proposed ways to increase revenue.

Some of the options are…

  • Diversify revenue streams
  • Economic growth- bring in more tax dollars (hotel example)
  • Extend life cycle for equipment/vehicle replacement
  • Extend infrastructure replacement schedules
  • Referendum
  • Reduction in operations

Clapper’s largest concern for the budget is the general trend in the reduction in revenue. This is partially a result of state limits on taxation in small communities. To address the problem of dwindling revenue, the council plans to vote on a resolution to work with Ehlers and Associates to create a long range financial plan. The budget will be discussed further by the finance committee on Thursday nights. Times and Locations will be posted in the near future.

City owned Landmarks

The last major discussion point was the issue of landmarks. Many concerned residents and people from the Landmarks Commission protested before the meeting over a fear of the city being able to rescind landmarks. Whitewater resident Carol Cartwright said “I am concerned that these city owned Landmarks could be threatened.”

Discussed at the meeting were two potential ordinances. The first would give the city council the ability to approve or not approve potential Landmark designations when the site is city owned property. After some discussion this ordinance was unanimously approved with Ald. Carol McCormick missing.

The second ordinance would give the right to city council to rescind Landmark designations on city owned property. Ald. Christopher Grady, the author of both ordinances, stated that he wants the city council to have the same rights to rescind Landmarks as a private citizen. His major concern was that in the event of a disaster, the city would be forced to pay the repair bill if a city owned Landmark was damaged. This ordinance died without a second. Members of the city council and the Landmarks Commission are going to work together in the near future to resolve any further issues.