Ryan Baker J486

Common Council Meeting Article – 2/23

Renowned water tower is up for fixation or demolition

Ryan Baker

The Starin Park water tower is in the middle of all the debate within the Whitewater common council on whether or not it gets reconstructed or demolished. In the Dec. 2022 meeting, the water was stated to be generally in good to fair condition and structurally stable. However, in the Feb. 2023 meeting, the council voted to send roughly $1 million to the finance committee for deliberation.

“We are getting a lot of emails and a lot of talk about the tower, one way or the other,” said Carol McCormick. “My suggestion to public works is because we are going to have a pretty big election in April that we do a non-binding referendum just to get a broader picture of what the public feels about the rebuilding or destruction.”

The water tower is nearly 115 years-old and the only structural issue as of now are rocks falling off the side inside the fence surrounding it, minimizing the damage. There were two different project proposals surrounding either a one season construction or a three-phase plan. The single season would cost the city roughly $950,000 to $1.1 million, while the three-phase plan would add $500,000 to the total.

The other side of the issue is the demolition aspect. The demolition would bring along the destruction of one the oldest sites in the city of Whitewater, but would only cost the city $600,000. This could be an option in the 2024.

Water Rate Increase

On Apr. 28 of this year, the water rate increase will hit all of Whitewater citizens’ bills. The increase came from the Public Service Commission in July 2022. The increase will bring it up from 3.3% to 8%, totaling to be $7.27 per user. This was rooted from the replacement of two water reservoirs.

“This dates back into some of the ingredients that led to the size of this rate increase that go into our financial plans that helped identified the vulnerability of our water system with two of our three water reservoirs being over 100 years old,” said Lukas Schreiber.

There’s always a two-way street when it comes to increases in city bills, the more the people are paying, the more the city makes in revenue. Speaking to that, the nearly 5% increase will provide an additional $687,376 in annual revenue to the Water Utility.

Additional Notes from Thursday

  • The council also discussed the ATV-UTV ordinance about having an amendment added that allows city street traveling regarding the vehicles.
  • The renewal of alcohol license was applied for after failing to do so in the summer of 2022 for Casual Joe’s, Bower’s House, and Five Points Mobil.
  • There was a request put in for the approval to WE Energies for installation of underground electrical facilities at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.
  • There is a strict need for E-M-Ts that was discussed to help out the county with seven of nine hired, with a note that paramedics aren’t the focus for hiring. There was also an emphasis with the training that will be completed, called VENT training which involved ice rescue
  • There is now going to be access to the fitness center 24 hours a day starting on Mar. 1.