Tuesday Oct. 3, the common council met to discuss the issues with the new University of Wisconsin-Whitewater parking system, the proposed budget, and address issues with the Landmark Commission.
Over the summer, the university removed a majority of their meters and replaced those spots with permit parking. Since this has been done, students have been found parking all over town to avoid paying for a permit. This has been done in an attempt to make the parking lots more self sustainable.
Chancellor Beverly Kopper, the Vice Chancellor Grace Crickette, and Police Chief Matt Kiederlen were sent by the university to address concerns of the city. Whether it is blocking the homeowners on Franklin or filling up the Fairhaven lot, the parking change is affecting the entire city of Whitewater.
A vast majority of the university parking permits have gone up $20, and the tickets have gone from $15 to $20. These prices have pushed students and staff to find free street parking within the city of Whitewater. This has directly affect the public’s accessibility and parking throughout the city.
Councilmember James Allen explained that this change “feels close to double taxation,” and most residents would agree. They are being put in the position to buy permits to park across the street from their homes. Although the university has spaces specifically designated for students and staff there is no guarantee that they will comply.
“We’re trying to encourage people to use those spaces, but if they’re not willing to I’m not sure what to do,” said Kiederlen. The police chief said they would be willing to allow the city to take back and manage Prince and Prairie Street if they’d like.
Pam Zarinnia, a retired worker of the university, found it “absolutely outrageous what they have done with the streets on either side of the campus.” She believes it needs very careful examination from the city to take care of the issue.
Zarinnia brought up the tragic event of the handicapped student killed at the crosswalk by the library, and thinks more focus should be brought to that. The flashing sign does not stop cars, and another death is inevitable if it is not quickly changed. “I really don’t want to see another dead person on that crossing,” said Zarinnia and asked that it be put on the agenda for the next meeting.
City manager Cameron Clapper proposed the new 2018 budget at $9.1 million, and that is a $37 thousand decrease from 2017. The revenues come mainly from taxes and intergovernmental revenues, and most expenditures are going public safety, administrations, and transfers.
Transfer in and out of the general fund was one of the larger areas for change. Transfers into the general fund were reduced by $55 thousand due to the elimination of certain larger funds such as cable television and parking permit fund. There was also $76 thousand for a trail fund that died and has been sitting since 2010. That project has paid back the state and will return to the budget.
The capital projects fund received $74 thousand last year and has been redirected to cover operations completely. There would be a reduction in health insurance for employees among the city, and offset by a wage increase of 1.5 percent.
The city is also looking to contract with Ehlers and Associates for financial advising services, and that motion will be discussed in the next meeting.
The finance committee will go through the official document on thursday evenings for the next 3 weeks before the budget is finalized. The final form of the budget will be presented again Nov., 7.
The Landmark Commission had protesters standing outside the doors of the common council meeting with signs that read “Save Our Landmarks,” but did not speak up during the meeting itself.
The council passed the motion of Landmark designation for property owned by the city. They found that issues had only occurred due to miscommunications, “the city manager received notice, but the council did not,” said the district four representative, Lynn Binnie.
Christopher Grady, the district 3 representative, asked the landmark commission that if they think they like to create a city owned property as a landmark let the city manager know and they bring it to the common council so it could be better discussed.
President Patrick Singer went further to describe the hopes for “open and predictable communication process” to avoid any future confusion. This first ordinance was was passed unanimously.
The second motion was a suggested ordinance to allow the Common Council to rescind Landmarks Designation for City of Whitewater owned landmarks. The goal of this change was to treat publicly owned landmarks as equally as privately owned.
However, this ordinance was not seconded and did not go on for a further debate. It was agreed that the Landmarks commission is fully capable of handling the situations as they occur.