Whitewater Common Council Members Face Tough Decisions

WHITEWATER-  Revised parking regulations along Prince and Prairie Street continue to upset Whitewater residents and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students. This item, as well as the city budget and the Landmarks Commission issue was addressed during Tuesday night’s Common Council meeting.

Prior to the start of the school year, the City of Whitewater made an agreement with the university regarding parking on Prince and Prairie Street for the enforcement of parking spaces. Chancellor Beverly Kopper, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs, Grace Crickette, and Chief of Police, Matt Kiederlen, spoke on behalf of the university.

“Parking needs to be self-sustaining,” Vice Chancellor Crickette explained. “That is so we can direct resources to student success, to student housing, to other infrastructure.”

The university is currently leasing the parking spots on Prince and Prairie Street for $45,000 a year. The change from metered spots to parking permits was made in hopes to fix the shortage of parking on campus. Within the next few years, a new residence hall will take over Lot 9, resulting in the loss of another 200 spots.  Common Council members are worried about the revamped parking rules affecting the publics accessibility.

Whitewater resident and previous employee at the university, Pam Zarinnia, expressed her feelings about the situation saying, “I think it is absolutely outrageous what they have done with the streets on either side of the campus. I’m embarrassed to be part of the city that basically has let them do that and get away with it.”

The Common Council did not act on the issue during Tuesday’s meeting, but it was discussed afterwards during a closed session.

City budget-

City Manager, Cameron Clapper presented the 2018 city budget of $9.1 million, about a $30,000 decrease from 2017. The money will predominantly come from taxes and inter-governmental revenues, but it will fund administration and public safety. The 2018 tax rate has yet to be determined.

An additional change that is being made to the upcoming budget is long-term financial planning for expenses and revenues.

“We need to plan for how we address shortages in the future,” Clapper said.

Clapper plans on collaborating with Ehlers & Associates, a financial advisor service, to aid this process.

Revenue reductions is one of the major issues on the rise. Possible revenue sources include economic growth, such as the construction of a hotel, or wheel tax, an annual registration fee vehicle owners must pay.

“To the average person, it’s not very apparent that there’s financial troubles and that’s partly because the money that is being used to plug holes in current operations and annual operations is money that would’ve been set aside for long term maintenance and replacement of city facilities and infrastructure,” Clapper explained.

The official budget numbers will not be presented until the finance committee has reviewed them. Members of the community are encouraged to attend the next budget discussion on November 7.

Landmark’s Commission-

Protestors gathered at the Municipal Building before Tuesday’s Common Council meeting in hopes to raise awareness about Whitewater’s landmarks.

“I’m concerned that these city owned landmarks could be threated,” protestor, Carol Cartwright said.

During the meeting, the Common Council voted on two separate ordinances: 1) when a city owned property is attempting to be designated as a landmark, and 2) when a city owned property is a landmark, what it takes to do a rescission of that landmark.

The first ordinance passed unanimously without Aldermanic District 1 representative, Carol McCormick’s vote, while the second ordinance was passed without a second motion.

“The goal of the ordinance change was to treat a city owned landmark the same way a private landmark is owned,” Aldermanic District 3 representative, Christopher Grady said.

Council members are unsure what the next step is for these ordinances.

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