Pressure reaches city council

October 9th, 2017

The Common Council meet on Tuesday, October 3 for what could have been an argumentative meeting, starting with protesters outside the municipal building and beginning the meeting with comments from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W) administration on parking meters.

The meeting started promptly at 6:30 p.m., led by Common Council President Patrick Singer.

Parking in the City of Whitewater has become a subject of controversy for the community, specifically around the UW-W campus. UW-W Chancellor Beverly Kopper, Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs Grace Crickett and Police Services Chief Matthew Kiederlen addressed the concerns of the council and community members.

“We want to provide information and update the council, address concerns and certainly as we’re partners together, we want to make sure we’re working together on this,” Kopper said.

In the Summer 2017, UW-W removed parking meters on city-owned Prince and Prairie Streets to permit parking only. This was done to make up for lost spaces due to new residence halls, said Kiederlen.

In the reasoning behind removing the meters, Kiederlen quoted the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dated to June 2012 between the city and the university. It states the university has the right to regulate their parking, which included Prince and Prairie Street.

Crickett spoke on self-sustaining parking for the university. Their goal is to become self-sustaining and the process to accomplish this goal is to remove the parking meters. She said this model of self-sustainment will help “direct resources to student success, to student housing and to other infrastructure.

Ald. Stephanie Goettl (District 5) voiced her concerns for citizens outside of the campus and their inability to purchase a permit for those streets if they are not students.

“I contacted Parking Services, and I was told unequivocally that…I could not park with a permit if I was not a student on those streets, and…if I was a disabled member of the public but not a student, I could not park on that street,” Goettl said.

Kiederlen combatted Goettl’s statement by stating the parking limitations were only put into place for a capacity study of the university. This was done to stop the overselling of permits for the campus.

Crickett offered the city to take back full responsibility to those streets or to draft a new MOU and the university would be open to it.

A concerned citizen and retired employee of the university spoke about a crosswalk issue the university has.

“We are going to have another dead student,” Pam Zarinnia said.

The crosswalk on Main Street leading to the back of the Andersen Library contains a flashing crosswalk sign when the button is pressed. The light is not easily seen to drivers according to Zarinnia.

Zarinnia also said there was a disabled student killed by a driver that did not see him crossing, in the past. She warned if nothing was done about this crosswalk, another student would die on that crosswalk.

City Manager Budget Review

City Manager Cameron Clapper addressed the council with an update on the 2018 budget Tuesday night.

Clapper offered up the city’s budget for 2018 would be $9,174,836. This number is $29,876 less than the 2017 budget of $9,204,722. Though the budget is less for this coming year Clapper said there would a termination of the Trail fund.

This fund was created to build a trail in Whitewater, but the motion failed after first approval. The money hasn’t been used since and could bring $76,000 into the budget.

The main revenues to the city are from taxes and intergovernmental revenues.

Clapper noted most expenses in the city go towards public safety and administration. However, the position of human resources will move from a part-time position to a full-time position creating a slightly more expense driven administration.

The Financial Committee will be meeting every Thursday for three weeks to go over the numbers within the budget. Meetings are open to the public and the first meeting is October 12 at 5 p.m. in the Municipal Building’s Community Room. Future meetings will be posted on the City’s webpage.

Clapper is looking to the City of Whitewater’s future in this budget. He said he is looking at a way to create a long-term financial plan.

The council is expected to vote on the 2018 budget November 21.

Landmarks Commission and Ordinances

Protestors lined the front of Whitewater’s Municipal Building the Common Council meeting Tuesday night. Two ordinances were presented to the council for approval per the request of Ald. Chris Grady (District 3).

The first ordinance proposed, gave the right to the City of Whitewater to review proposed landmarks on city property before approval of a landmark status. This ordinance passed unanimously.

The second ordinance, amending Chapter 17.12.040, meant to allow the city to rescind any landmark without needing permission from the Landmark Commission was also brought to the council for approval.

“Is there a second?” Singer asked three times before declaring the second ordinance dead.

The concept of the ordinance, according to Grady, is if a natural disaster were to occur the city would need to pay to repair any damage to the landmarks.

“People have been fairly misinformed as to what the goal of this was,” Grady said. “The goal of this ordinance change was to treat city-owned landmarks the same as a private landmark.”

Questions were raised by Goettl of why the ordinance was written in such a way that the city could remove a landmark at their attention, but not for only natural disasters as Grady intended.

“I would ask the question, then, why is this ordinance saying that at any time we can do this, instead of a disaster-specific ordinance that would give us the right in the need to fully replace, should an event occur,” Gottel said. “At that point, I would assume there would be some precedence and our attorney would be able to help.”

The ordinance failed at the lack of a second to approve the motion.

Not all seven Council members were in attendance Tuesday. Carol McCormick was absent from the meeting.

The next Common Council meeting is November 7 at 6:30 p.m. For more information about the City of Whitewater’s Common Council visit the homepage.

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