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County transit system merger talks skid to a halt PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by JOE POIRIER   
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 19:27

Proposal to combine Ozaukee, Washington services fails to garner support of officials from either county

    Negotiations over a joint Ozaukee-Washington county public transit system skidded to a halt last week when officials from both counties voted not to pursue the merger.
    If the merger had been approved, it would have created one of the largest public transit systems in the state, but the committees determined bigger isn’t necessarily better.
    “Is this worth pursuing? We already have a good transit service,” Washington County Supr. Daniel Goetz asked during the meeting of the Ozaukee and Washington counties public works committees on Thursday, Nov. 16, at the Newburg Municipal Building.
    Both public works committees voted   not to pursue the merger 2-2. For Ozaukee County, supervisors Kathryn Geracie and Donald Korinek voted for the merger and supervisors LeRoy Haeuser and Barb Jones voted against.
     The Ozaukee and Washington shared-rides taxi service provides about 230,000 rides annually to people cross between the two counties. Officials estimated that number would have increased by 10,000 if the services were merged because riders would no longer have to transfer in Newburg.        Proponents said the merger would save money and improve public transit in both counties, which provide express bus service to and from Milwaukee and a shared-ride taxi service.
    The current contract operator for both counties’ share-ride taxi services, National Q, indicated that it might be able to reduce the dispatch costs if the services were merged, which would’ve saved about $50,000 per year.
    Officials said federal funding would only increase slightly if the merger occurred.
    Proponents also argued that a joint shared-ride taxi service would have been easier for riders, who predominantly are elderly and disabled people, to use because it would eliminate transfers.
    “They would likely experience quicker trips and wouldn’t have to wait for the transfer in Newburg, which could be out of the way from the origin or destination of their trip,” Kevin Muhs, deputy director of Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, said.
    Muhs also said an Ozaukee-Washington transit service would better serve businesses in both counties struggling with a labor shortage.
    “It could assist with the labor shortage both counties are currently experiencing,” he said.
    But opponents of the merger said they were concerned about creating an unwieldy system managed by a transit commission that would have three to four representatives from each county.
    “You’ll be creating another bureaucracy and adding another layer of supervision,” Ozaukee County Supr. LeRoy Haeuser said, noting he was wary of what the commission would do if there would be a tie vote.
    Managing the assets of each county was also an issue. Each county owns its own shared-ride taxis, and Ozaukee County owns a dispatch and storage facility, which it would have had to transfer to the joint commission.
    “Why can’t we leave it the way it is,” Haeuser said.
    Other topics discussed included service hours, staffing, vehicle storage and dispatch, maintenance, brand marketing and reconciling fare structure. Ozaukee has a zone-based fare system while Washington’s is distance based.
    “In addition to the idiosyncrasies of each fare structure, Washington County taxi fares for adults are currently higher, on average, than Ozaukee’s,” Muhs said.
    Washington County fares range from $4.25 to $9, while Ozaukee County’s range from $3 to $6.75.
    Wisconsin has five multi-county transit systems.
    Discussions of a public transit system merger started after the Ozaukee and Washington counties merged their public health departments in 2015.Daily Press

 
Frosty run to benefit city’s effort to restore lighthouse PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 19:26

Dec. 2 races will be held on same day as Port’s downtown Christmas events

    Efforts to raise money to restore Port Washington’s landmark lighthouse will take a dash forward when the inaugural Frosty Lighthouse Five run and walk is held in December, Mayor Tom Mlada announced recently.
    The event, which will feature five-mile and five-kilometer routes, will be held on Saturday, Dec. 2, the same day as Port Main Street Inc.’s Christmas on the Corner celebration.
    “Hopefully, we’ll have a great crowd,” Mlada said. “People can come down to the race, have lunch downtown and hopefully start their shopping before Christmas on the Corner starts.”
    The race will begin at Veterans Memorial Park, said Mlada, with registration set for 9 a.m. and the race scheduled for 10 a.m.
    The routes will take participants on the Ozaukee Interurban Trail to the north side of the city, and through portions of the north bluff area.
    Information and registration are available at www.portwashington.recdesk.com.
    Port Washington officials have been waiting for word from the federal government that the city has been granted ownership of the Art Deco-style lighthouse, which has graced the harbor since 1935.
    The Coast Guard announced three years ago that it was seeking a new owner for the lighthouse, and the city almost immediately agreed to seek ownership of the structure.
    The city’s bid to obtain the lighthouse has been tentatively approved by the federal government.
    If the city is granted ownership of the structure, the city will need to take over maintenance of the lighthouse. The most pressing needs, officials said, are replacing the porthole windows and repainting the structure.
    The windows are expected to cost $25,000, while painting is estimated to cost as much as $1 million. That’s due, in part, to the fact the structure is encased in lead-based paint.
    The city is also seeking to have the lighthouse placed on the National Register of Historic Places.Daily Press

 
Distracted driver blamed for drinking water warning PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 19:21

Woman reaching for purse hits fire hydrant, prompts boil advisory

    What started as an accident turned into a major inconvenience for some Port Washington residents last week after they were warned to boil their drinking water for a day.
    It was an unusual accident and aftermath, Water Supt. Dave Kleckner said.
    “It’s something we haven’t dealt with in the time I’ve been here,” he said, adding that’s been 35-1/2 years. “This was totally beyond our control.”
    The accident occurred about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, when a 26-year-old Belgium woman driving north on Bywater Drive reached down to pick up her purse, which had fallen, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said.
    “When she looked up, she was jumping the curb,” he said.
    The woman’s 2008 Saturn, which was totalled, struck the fire hydrant, breaking both it and the lateral pipe feeding it, Kleckner said.
    It’s normal for the hydrant to break in an accident, he said, noting they’re designed to do just that. But it’s very unusual for the impact to fracture the lateral, he said.
    The accident happened just as he was heading home, Kleckner said. While on his way home, he got a call that someone in the Misty Ridge subdivision on the city’s south side had no water.
    “Then calls started coming in from other subdivisions — New Port Vista, Greystone, Woodridge,” Kleckner said.
    Once police notified him of the accident, he headed to the scene. Although water was gushing from the pipe, department workers had to shut off the flow slowly to avoid damaging other pipes, Kleckner said.
    It took about an hour to completely close the pipe, he said, estimating more than 400,000 gallons of water were lost during that time.
    The damaged section of pipe didn’t feed any customers, Kleckner said, but the amount of water flowing from the pipe caused customers in the area to significantly lose pressure or lose water service all together.
    Kleckner consulted with the Department of Natural Resources — something required by law after a significant loss of pressure in a system — and was told the city needed to impose a precautionary boil order.
    That’s because when the pressure in the system dropped, cross connections or illegal connections could have allowed bacteria to enter the system, he said.
    When the system is operating normally, the water pressure doesn’t allow this to occur, he said.
    Water department workers collected eight samples of water Wednesday evening —two each from the Misty Ridge, Greystone, New Port Vista and Woodridge subdivisions —for testing, a process that takes 24 hours.
    The department has a certified lab to do the testing, and the samples came back clear Thursday evening, Nov. 16. The boil advisory was then cancelled.
     A new hydrant was installed on Friday, Nov. 17.
    Police cited the Belgium woman for inattentive driving, Hingiss said, adding the department will likely seek restitution for the water that was lost and other costs.
    “This just shows the importance of paying attention and not getting distracted,” he said. “She could have been on a sidewalk hitting someone.”Daily Press

 
Residents question town recycling center plan PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 19:38

Debate over Port board’s proposal to buy land next to hall to expand facility dominates budget discussion

     A debate about the future of the Town of Port Washington’s garbage and recycling center was the central subject of the 2018 budget hearing.
    The Town Board is considering purchasing two lots adjacent to Town Hall to expand its recycling and garbage operations, but Gordon Naujock, 3642 Norport Dr., suggested that other options be explored.
    “How serious are you in pursuing it?” he asked the board, noting that purchasing the properties could cost the township $500 annually in taxes it would otherwise collect.
    “You guys are charged with making the best decisions for the town, and maybe that’s not the best one.”
    Board members said the current situation works but is not ideal, and as the town grows things will only get more difficult.
    Buying the properties will make it possible to handle the operations into the future, they said.
    But Naujock said the town should consider moving the operations from the west side of the Town Hall to the east, saying there is plenty of property adjacent to the parking lot to collect the garbage and recycling.
    The parking lot reaches almost to the end of the town’s property, board members said. Even if the town owned the land, they said, a stormwater ditch next to the lot would make expanding the operation difficult if not impossible.
    But Naujock said the $50,000 the town allocated in the 2018 budget for the properties to the east — funds town officials said would be the initial payment for the lots — could be used to buy adjoining land on the west side of the hall, if needed, and make any necessary modifications.
    The properties the town is considering buying, he added, are “probably the two best lots in Knellsville.”
    Town Chairman Jim Melichar said that only the property next to the Town Hall would likely be used for the garbage and recycling operations.
    The town would likely lease the other property at the intersection of Highland and Highway H, he said.
    Owning those lots would give the town greater control when and if future development is proposed there, Melichar added.
    “We don’t know what’s going to happen until we get sewer and water here,” Melichar said.
    Paul Gantner, 2550 Hillcrest Rd., said the rent the town would realize from the corner property would offset any loss of taxes, and added that the town needs to do something to improve its garbage and recycling operations.
    “This is an investment for the town,” Gantner added, particularly considering the potential impact on future development.
    Terry Anewenter, 3693 Hwy. KK, agreed that the town should look at other options, saying, “I think that’s an interesting idea.”
    After learning that the road in front of the Town Hall is a dead-end that merges with a private driveway, Anewenter suggested that the town consider moving the dumpsters to the roadway instead of keeping them in the Town Hall parking lot.
    If the traffic flow doesn’t work, he said, the town could create a driveway from the current east-side parking lot to Highland Drive to accommodate it.
    Town Supr. Mike Didier noted there’s a long way to go before the town purchases the properties.
    The town has yet to receive an appraisal of the lots, which are assessed at $82,400 and $132,000, he said.
    If negotiations are successful, the Town Board would present the plan at the annual meeting of the electors in April, Melichar said.
    “We cannot buy it without approval from the electorate,” he said. “The negotiations may take until then.”
    The eight residents at the public hearing approved the $462,233 levy for 2018, which reflects an increase from this year’s levy of $457,517.
    The board then approved the budget of $572,415, an increase of .85% from this year’s budget of $567,564.
    The town tax rate is expected to be $2.23 per $1,000 assessed valuation.Daily Press

 
Main Street Inc. takes over to keep winter market alive PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 19:34


    Port Washington’s winter farmers market will continue this year after all.            Port Main Street Inc., which runs the summer farmers market, is taking over the reins after former organizers Pat and Amy Wilborn announced earlier this year that they would not continue the market.
    The first market will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at First Congregational Church.
    “When we heard Pat and Amy weren’t going to do it this year, we thought ‘That’s a shame,’” said Annie Bahringer, who with Jennifer Sapiro is organizing the market. “It’s been established and pretty popular. We want to continue the tradition.”
    So far, there are about five vendors signed up to sell everything from canned good, jellies, pickled items, fresh eggs, baked goods and produce from Wellspring Farms.
    The women hope to add to that number before next weekend’s market, however.
    “We’d like to have about a dozen vendors,” Bahringer said. “We’re looking for produce mainly, food products made here — honey, meats.”
    They’d also like to add locally made handcrafted items, she said.
    They are looking to supplement the products with entertainment, such as live music and perhaps a children’s storytime so youngsters are occupied while their parents shop, she said.
    Even as the market continues at First Congregational Church, its traditional location, Bahringer said the women are seeking a downtown location, especially since the Main Street district encompasses downtown.
    “It is a Main Street project, but everything’s booked or leased,” she said.
    The second market of the season is set for Dec. 16 at First Congregational Church, although Bahringer said the women are looking for a venue to hold a market on Dec. 9.
    “We want to hold it a couple times before Christmas and then maybe once a month after,” she said.
    But above all, she said, the women want to continue the sense of community that a market engenders.    
    “The summer farmers market is so wonderful and such a great community gathering,” Bahringer said. “We just wanted to continue that kind of community feeling and make it a destination.”
    Anyone interested in a booth at the winter farmers market is asked to send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .    Daily Press
  

 
Port will present budget with levy hike, rate decrease PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 19:32

    The City of Port Washington’s proposed 2018 budget is slated to increase 2.5%, with the corresponding tax levy increasing 2.2%.
    The $9.5 million expenditure budget and $5.4 million levy — which comes in just $353 under the state levy limit — were recommended recently by the Finance and License Committee.
    But even though the levy and budget are increasing, the tax rate will decrease because of the amount of growth in the city, City Administrator Mark Grams said, He estimated the tax rate, excluding the tax incremental financing district, will be $5.98 per $1,000 assessed valuation, a decrease of about eight cents.
    For the owner of a house assessed at $225,000, he said, their city taxes will decrease about $19.
    But, he emphasized, that’s not a final number because the TIF calculation hasn’t been computed yet.
    A public hearing on the budget will be held during the council’s 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, meeting. Aldermen are expected to approve the budget that night.
    The committee met all day on Oct. 26 to work on the budget and tweaked the final document Oct. 30 before recommending the spending plan, which largely maintains the status quo, Grams said.
    “As far as services go, it’s about the same,” he said.
    No new initiatives are included in the budget, which does include increased funding for elections — there will be four next year compared to two this year, Grams said.
    The biggest change may be a recommendation to eliminate the parks and recreation director’s position, he said.
    Director Charlie Imig has resigned effective Nov. 8, and instead of replacing him, the Personnel Committee has recommended splitting his duties between Kiley Schulte, the recreation supervisor, and Jon Crain, the city forester.
    That change will save the city between $40,000 and $50,000 next year, Grams said.
    The city expects to borrow about $2 million for capital projects next year, Grams said, primarily for road projects in 2018 and 2029.
    About $80,000 will be earmarked for a new computer system at City Hall, he said. The city is tied into the county’s computer system but there have been a number of issues with that lately, Grams said.
    The city plans to use the proceeds from the sale of 35.19 acres of bluff land for the Prairie’s Edge subdivision to finance several other capital items, Grams said.
    Black Cap Halcyon is expected to pay $2,257,086 for the land. Those funds will be used, in part, to pay for a new tanker truck to replace the current, 32-year-old truck at an estimated cost of $400,000, and a new ambulance for $225,000, as well as some street department equipment, and improvements to the heating system at the Niederkorn Library, Grams said.
    Grams also told the Finance and License Committee that the city will likely end 2017 $80,000 to $90,000 over budget, the result of a computer glitch that overstated the number of building permits being issued and a miscalculation in the payment in lieu of taxes the water utility will pay this year.
    He is meeting with department heads to see where savings might be realized to offset some of these shortfalls, Grams said, adding the city’s reserve fund has enough to cover the gap if needed.Daily Press

 
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