Brian Uhl Promoted to Police Sergeant
New Police Officer Hired
Plan Commission Reviews Large Development Projects
Ride Your Bike to School Day
HUSCO Planning Major Investment in Whitewater
Annual Police Day Ceremony May 21st
Public Information Meeting May 20th on HWY 59/89 Intersection Improvement
Stephen Ambrose Memrial Highway Dedication June 25th
Home Lumber Named 2010 Wisconsin Family Small Business of the Year
News From Around the Country
Brian Uhl Promoted to Police Sergeant by Police Commission
Congratulations to Detective Brian Uhl who was promoted to Police Sergeant by the Whitewater Police Commission earlier this week. Uhl’s appointment to the position of Patrol Supervisor will become effective on June 1st.
In announcing this appointment, Police Chief Coan stated that “we believe that Brian has the experience , education, human relations skills, and strength of character to be a strong and effective leader in our Department”.
Congratulations to Sgt. Uhl on his promotion!
New Police Officer Hired
The Police Department is pleased to announce that Bill Becker has accepted a position as police officer with the department. The offer of employment is contingent upon successful completion of a medical examination and psychological screening. If successful, Becker will begin his new duties and begin field training on June 1st.
Becker is from Jefferson where he has been working as a part-time officer for the Jefferson Police Department. He has also worked as a limited term, seasonal police officer for the City of Wisconsin Dells. Becker holds an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Madison Area Technical College and is currently working on his bachelor’s degree in sociology/criminal justice at UW-Whitewater.
Plan and Architectural Review Commission Reviews Large Development Projects
The Plan and Architectural Review Commission reviewed two large development projects at its meeting this past week.
The expansion of the Whitewater Greenhouses complex on CTH “U” was approved for construction by the Commission. This addition, planned to be constructed in two phases, will ultimately cover almost nine acres of land to the west and south of the existing facilities (more than doubling the current Greenhouses complex). The planned addition will look identical to the existing greenhouses and will have a fairly low profile. Additional landscaping and on-site stormwater treatment will be required for the new addition.
The Commission also held a conceptual review for the proposed new addition to the Whitewater Walmart building that will create a new supercenter for the firm. While there is a significant amount of architectural and site improvements that need be addressed by Walmart before final approvals might be considered, overall the Plan Commission had a positive response to the Walmart plans. Certainly, developing the Walmart Supercenter on the existing Main Street site presents less developmental and environmental issues than building on a new “Greenfield” site would have.
Walmart hopes to bring back final plans for Plan and Architectural Review Commission review and possible approval in July. There will also be a public hearing conducted at that time to receive citizen comment on the proposed development.
Ride Your Bike to School Held Today
On Friday, May 14th the children of Whitewater were asked to grab their helmets and backpack to enjoy a nice ride to school in support of bike month. Volunteers were stationed at Lakeview, Lincoln, Washington, and Middle School on Friday morning for those who took the ride. Participants caught riding their bike received Whitewater Police Department bike reflectors and summer paddle boat coupons.
This year we had 22 participants at Lincoln, 18 participants at Washington, 12 participants at the Middle School, and 9 participants at Lakeview.
According to the Bicycle Alliance Bicycle Safe Routes to School, 13% of American children walk or ride their bikes to school these days, compared to more than 66% 30 years ago. Let's all work together to get those numbers back up!
HUSCO International Planning Major Investment in Whitewater Facility
HUSCO International, which operates a large manufacturing facility on Universal Blvd. in the Whitewater Business Park, has requested that the City assist the firm with a proposed industrial revenue bond financing (IRB), in an amount not to exceed $20 million. This financing would be used to finance all or part of the costs of the acquisition and installation of new production lines and related facility improvements and equipment at HUSCO’s Whitewater facility which manufactures hydraulic and electrohydraulic controls for automotive applications.
IRBs are commonly offered by most states and local governments as a way to encourage expansions of companies that provide jobs and expand economic opportunities for residents and the community. The municipality issues the bonds but is not responsible for making the payments on the loan (in this case HUSCO International is responsible for all principal and interest payments) nor does it have any legal liability if a default should occur. Since the city is not responsible for the loan, the IRB does not have an impact on either the city’s credit rating or debt capacity (ability to borrow for public projects).
The Common Council is scheduled to consider the IRB financing for HUSCO as well as the possible designation of the city as a “recovery zone” for the purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The latter designation would permit the IRBs as tax-exempt “recovery zone facility bonds” at its meeting next Tuesday evening.
Annual Police Day Ceremony to be Held Next Friday, May 21st
The annual Police Day ceremony will be held on Friday, May 21st beginning at 3:00 p.m. in the Municipal Building Community Room. Award presentations will be made to police department employees at this ceremony.
Please join us as we honor our police officers and civilian staff for their loyal devotion and dedicated service to our Whitewater community!
Public Information Meeting Scheduled for Next Thursday Evening on State Highway 59/89 Intersection Improvement Project
The public is invited to a public information meeting to discuss the upcoming Janesville Road (Wisconsin State Highway 59) and STH 89 Intersection Improvement Project. The meeting will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 20th in the Municipal Building Community Room.
The purpose of this meeting is to receive citizen input on the design of planned intersection improvements as well as to provide updated information on the project. This will include general information on project schedules, preliminary engineering design and the real estate acquisition process. Construction is scheduled for 2011.
Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) officials will be in attendance to answer specific questions about this project. If citizens cannot attend this meeting and would like additional information about the project, they can contact Emmanuel Yartey, project manager, at 262-548-6429 (office) or 414-750-0580 (cell).
Stephen Ambrose Memorial Highway (Whitewater STH 12 Bypass) to be Dedicated on Friday, June 25th
In early April the Wisconsin State Legislature approved the renaming of the STH 12 Whitewater Bypass to the “Stephen Ambrose Memorial Highway” in honor of Whitewater native and famous U.S. historian Stephen Ambrose. Thanks to our local representatives in the Wisconsin Assembly Kim Hixson and Stephen Nass (who incidentally was named after Ambrose) for sponsoring this legislation.
A formal dedication of the new highway designation will be held on Friday, June 25th at 11 a.m. Members of the Ambrose family will be coming from across the country to attend this ceremony as well as a family reunion that is being planned for that weekend.
The stretch of STH 12 from its intersection with CTH “P” to County Line Road will be officially signed the Stephen Ambrose Memorial Highway. The dedication will be held at the STH 12 and STH 89 intersection here in Whitewater.
Congratulations to Home Lumber on Being Named 2010 Wisconsin Family Small Business of the Year!
Congratulations to Whitewater’s Home Lumber and its President Geoff Hale on being named the 2010 Wisconsin Family Small Business of the Year (50 or fewer employees) at the Wisconsin Family Business of the Year awards banquet held in Middleton last evening. Home Lumber was nominated for this prestigious award by J.D. Milburn, Main Street Marketing Specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. The Wisconsin Family Business of the Year Award Program was developed by Smith and Gesteland, Certified Public Accountants & Business Consultants, to help share the success, inspiration, and wisdom that family businesses demonstrate.
Home Lumber was joined by Gordy’s Lakefront Marine of Fontana Geneva (Medium Employers) and Miron Construction of Menasha (Large Employers) as the 2010 Family Business award winners. A total of 25 family businesses were nominated for these awards.
Each day I receive an electronic newsletter from the International City and County Management Association (ICMA) that contains newspaper articles from across the U.S. that pertain to local government issues. I include some of these articles in my weekly report that may have pertinence to issues here in Whitewater or may be of general interest.
Group Seeks To Change California Property Tax Loopholes.
The San Jose Mercury News (5/9, Bussewitz) reported, "Democratic lawmakers are determined to close tax loopholes they say cost state and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars each year, as they search for ways to trim California's enormous deficit." The California Tax Reform Association released a report stating "the share of property tax paid on residential property has increased since two-thirds of voters approved California's landmark Proposition 13 tax law in 1978, while the share paid on commercial property has decreased." The association's executive director Lenny Goldberg said "The system is an incredible mess. People are constantly changing their share of ownerships, figuring out ways to avoid reassessment." The Mercury news reported "A bill by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, AB 2492, would redefine an ownership change to 100 percent of a property being sold, regardless of the number of new owners," a bill that is strongly opposed by Republicans.
New Jersey's Governor Proposes Raise Cap For Public Workers.
NJ.com (5/9, Heininger, Friedman) reported, "Gov. Chris Christie will propose on Monday a permanent 2.5 percent limit on annual raises for public workers, including police, firefighters and teachers, and will allow towns to discard civil service rules governing employee hiring and firing." The bill "marks the Republican governor's most audacious move yet against the state's public employee unions since it strikes at the heart of time-honored-practices - the power to bargain for substantial raises for workers and the assurance they are covered by civil service protections." "People in New Jersey now feel as if there have become two classes of people in New Jersey: Public employees who receive rich benefits, and those who pay for them," Christie stated in a recent speech to mayors. Union leaders quickly announced their opposition to the bill, calling it "a power grab by a governor who disrespects organized labor, and doubted the changes would save the state much money."
Baltimore Councilman Wants To Cut Property Taxes.
The Baltimore Sun (5/10, Scharper) reported, "A Baltimore city councilman believes the city could slash its high property tax rate, if all properties -including those owned by nonprofits - are assessed fees for certain services. 'We have to find a way to broaden the tax base for our city,' Councilman Carl Stokes said at a Monday news conference. 'That would allow us to begin to reduce the property tax burden on our city.'" Stokes proposal calls for reducing property taxes up to 50% over the next decade, but homeowners, business and nonprofits will instead "pay a fee that would cover the cost of running an agency, such recreation and parks or the police. Nonprofits do not pay property taxes." Stokes said the plan, "is still in the nascent stages," will not be introduced until the fall.
Portsmouth, Ohio, Installing $148,000 Wireless Network, May Offer Free Wi-Fi Hotspots.
The Community Common (5/10, Allen) reported, "In the 2009 city of Portsmouth Capital Improvements Budget (CIP) $148,000 was allocated to begin the process of installing a wireless network. The funding will allow the city to begin replacing and upgrading its aging network." City representative Mike Penn said "When it's done, if we get to do everything, the entire city will have a Wi-Fi signal. We (city of Portsmouth) plan on using this for a great many things." However Penn acknowledged the difficulty of the project, noting that in order "When it's done, if we get to do everything, the entire city will have a Wi-Fi signal. We (city of Portsmouth) plan on using this for a great many things." Once the system is in place, Penn said the city would "likely offer some hotspots to the public at no charge."
Grand Rapids, Michigan, May Bill Property Owners For Street Lighting.
WZZM-TV Grand Rapids, MI (5/11, Ross) reported, "Despite passage of an income tax increase last week, Grand Rapids' financial troubles are not over. That word came today from the City Manager who outlined plans to charge property owners for street lighting and to lower personal exemptions on income taxes." Even as some city commissioners feel that the city is unable to "get any more revenue from our citizens," the new street light utility would raise about $3.7 million for the city. Without this additional revenue, "pools would close and about 40 more city workers would lose their jobs." The choices, Mayor George Heartwell said, "become repugnant A or repugnant B."
Wausau, Wisconsin, Considering Settling Eminent Domain Lawsuit.
WSAU-AM Wausau, WI (5/11) reported, "A Weston couple is appealing how much Wausau has paid them to acquire their property so the city can expand the intersection at Grand Avenue and Thomas Street. Steve and Jodene Meinel have appealed the city's eminent domain award in Marathon County circuit court." This lawsuit comes as Wausau "awarded the Meinels an undisclosed amount of money last August. The exact figure isn't known because it has been blacked out from the public court file. But, according to a payoff statement from Marshfield Savings Bank, the couple owed $166,000 on three properties." However, the city's finance committee announced they recommend Wausau "settle the lawsuit ahead of a court trial June 9th." The City Council will discuss the recommendation in closed session and openly vote on the settlement Tuesday night.
Nevada's Governor Launches OPEN Government Initiative.
Government Monitor (5/12) reported, "Governor Jim Gibbons today announced the Gibbons OPEN Government Initiative (Open Public Employee Negotiations). The initiative petition amends the Nevada Revised Statutes to subject collective bargaining agreement negotiations and meetings to Nevada's Open Meeting Law." Gibbons stated, "Just like the State of Nevada, local governments and school districts are struggling to reduce expenditures. It is disappointing to see unions forcing local governments to lay off employees rather than accepting some form of salary reduction to save jobs. Nevada needs to keep as many people working as possible, and the voters of Nevada will pass this initiative to save jobs" This law comes as "between 70 to 80 percent of a local government or school district budget is spent on personnel, making most local government spending hidden from the public view." Gibbons said, "Transparency and accountability in government are essential to keep the public trust."
Quotes for the Week:
“Listening to learn isn’t about giving advice—at least not until asked—but about trying to understand exactly what someone means, how it is that someone looks at and feels about her particular situation.” - Elisabeth Debold
“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” - Eddie Rickenbacher