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County plans 2017 budget with no tax rate increase PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Mitch Maersch   
Wednesday, 12 October 2016 17:48

Committee recommends spending package that pared department’s initial requests

Ozaukee County’s Executive Committee is recommending a slightly larger budget carrying basically no increase in taxes to the County Board.

“We want to keep the taxes at no increase or a decrease,” County Board Chairman Lee Schlenvogt said.

The 2017 budget is slated to be $19.98 million with an estimated sales tax revenue of $7.8 million to be used to directly reduce the property tax levy.

The tax rate for library communities is projected at $1.80 per $1,000 of equalized property value. Non-library communities are expected to pay $2.10 per $1,000.

That would mean the owner of a  $250,000 home in a library community would pay $450 in county taxes and the same home owner in a non-library community would pay $520.

This year’s tax rates are $1.82 and $2.10, respectively.

When the budget first arrived on County Administrator Tom Meaux’s desk, it carried $7 million more in spending.

“Our staff did a good job working with department heads, and Tom Meaux did an extremely good job in getting us to a zero budget,” Schlenvogt said.

The county’s health insurance provider has not yet been selected but must be before the County Board takes action on the budget next month. Last month, the Finance Committee voted to put Group Health Trust on a 90-day notice of cancellation after the company failed to respond to the county’s request for proposal that was due in July.

“We’ve done this before. This is not the first time in my time here,” Meaux told the committee on Sept. 23.

GHT had submitted a bid just before the committee meeting, a zero percent increase not including the county’s employee clinic. But the county has another bid with a similar rate that includes the clinic.

While the Finance Committee works through bids from other health insurers, Schlenvogt said he doesn’t anticipate any change in the budget. “We have some good bids out there,” he said.

The budget includes $107,000 to restore the Miss Columbia mural in the County Board Room. Schlenvogt said restoring the ceiling is important since plaster is “actually falling off the ceiling,” and private funding and a grant will pay for the mural restoration itself.

The recently held Ozaukee County Autumn Open golf outing raised nearly $15,000 to be put toward restoring the 115-year-old mural.

Sheriff James Johnson took out a $20,000 request from his budget for cell phone analyzer equipment and software. He had made the request to retrieve cell phone data faster instead of using Milwaukee’s service.

But Mequon’s police department recently bought the equipment, and Ozaukee County will use their equipment for one year and see how it works.

The proposed budget calls for putting $112,000 in the capital reserve fund that could be used in case of a shortfall in capital projects in 2017.

The proposal recommends paying down $1.5 million in general fund debt. The general obligation debt will be $29.63 million.

The budget goes to the County Board on Wednesday, Oct. 19, for discussion with a public hearing scheduled for Monday, Oct. 31. The board may act on the budget Nov. 2. Daily Press

Challenge accepted PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 05 October 2016 18:16

PWHS joins other local schools in Kapco program that inspires students to champion charitable causes

Port Washington High School is among four Ozaukee County high schools that have accepted the challenge of a Grafton company to tell the stories of those who make a difference in their communities and better the lives of others through campaigns that inspire generosity.

Port High is fielding three teams of eight students each that are competing against teams from Grafton, Cedarburg and Homestead high schools in the first-ever high school division of the Kapco Charitable Challenge.

Given their instructions last week by Jim Kacmarcik, president of Kapco Inc., a metal stamping firm, during a kickoff at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, students have less than a month to complete the challenge.

Their two-part mission starts with finding and telling the stories of first responders who through selflessness and courage have made remarkable contributions to their communities. Sara Grover, manager of operations and events for KNE, Kapco’s entertainment division, said the challenge is intended to highlight positive news in a day and age when negative stories abound.

For the second part of the challenge, teams were given $1,000 in seed money to spark campaigns to help those in need.

The idea, Grover said, is to inspire high school students to find creative causes and ways to involve their communities in an effort to better the lives of others.

“We want high school students to garner the support of their communities, to give others the opportunity to pay it forward,” she said. 

Kapco started the Charitable Challenge in 2008. Since then, college teams have raised tens of thousands of dollars for good works in their communities. 

Grover noted that in 2008 a team from Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon sparked what became a community effort championed by Kapco to renovate and make handicapped accessible the Grafton house of Karen Longoria, a preschool teacher battling cancer and mother of 13-year-old triplets, two of whom had cerebral palsy and used wheelchairs. The project was featured on NBC’s “Dateline.”

High school teams have until Oct. 25 to complete the challenge. That’s when they will present their accomplishment to a panel of judges from 6 to 9 p.m. at the KNE headquarters, 995 Badger Cir., Grafton.Daily Press

Should campers be allowed to park overnight in marina lot? PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 05 October 2016 18:14

Harbormaster defends longtime practice after city gets complaints, questions

The sight of campers parked overnight in the Port Washington marina parking lot recently has raised a few eyebrows, especially since not far away a sign states “No Overnight Camping.”

Harbormaster Dennis Cherny said Tuesday that the marina has been providing a spot for a group of campers who visit about this time every year “for at least 10 years.”
They originally parked in the city lot next to the American Legion Hall, Cherny said, but when the city redesigned and reconstructed it, they couldn’t fit there.

Then the campers were moved to the city owned lot next to the former Victor’s restaurant, he said. However, that lot is being used to stage construction equipment this year.

“We’re not that busy right now, so they pulled in here,” Cherny said of the marina parking lot.

The campers usually stay for one to three weeks, visiting while the salmon are running, he said.

The marina charges them $10 a night, Cherny said, noting they don’t use electrical or water services. They do not have access to the marina buildings, he added.

“It’s not like a campground,” Cherny said.

“They’re decent people. They clean up after themselves,” he said. “They haven’t caused any problems. They don’t make noise or disturb others. They’re just here fishing and then staying overnight in their campers.”

Some of the campers set up grills and smokers, but Cherny said when he told them that wasn’t allowed, they packed them up.

There were never more than four or five campers in the lot at any one time, Cherny said. In the past, because the campers were inconspicuous, there weren’t any complaints about them, he added. 

But this year there were some complaints, he said, prompting him to look into the city’s policy on camping.

Cherny said he wasn’t aware of any city ordinance prohibiting camping. “If there is one, we’ll have to stop,” he said. “If they (aldermen) enforce the ordinance, we’ll stop doing it.”

The campers were all gone by Tuesday, he said, and the marina staff told them to call next year before they come to see if the practice would be allowed.Daily Press

Saukville man accused of firing at ex-police chief’s house PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 17:26

Suspect charged with 4 felonies after bullets found feet from neighbor’s home

A 48-year-old man who authorities found sitting on the roof of his garage in Saukville early Sunday morning, Sept. 11, was charged last week in Ozaukee County Circuit Court with firing several shots from a .40-caliber handgun at the home of his neighbor — retired police chief Bill Meloy.

Another neighbor of Timothy R. Dempsey, Port Washington police officer Jason Bergin, said he heard a man presumed to be Dempsey yell, “I’m going to (expletive) kill you,” and “Your law enforcement friends will not be able to help you,” after being awakened by the commotion around 4:30 a.m., according to the criminal complaint.

Dempsey, who claimed he was sleepwalking, is charged with four counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, a felony punishable by 7-1/2 years in prison and five years of extended supervision.

He is also charged with four misdemeanor counts of firing a gun within 100 yards of a building, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

During Dempsey’s initial court appearance Monday, Judge Paul Malloy set his bail at $50,000. Dempsey’s attorney, Perry Lieuallen, entered a not guilty by reason of mental disease plea on his behalf.

According to the criminal complaint, officers responding to a call from Meloy arrived at Dempsey’s home on Dekora Street to find Dempsey on the roof of his garage acting strangely.

Noticing the patio doors of the house had been shot, officers went inside where they discovered numerous bullet holes in the walls, an ammunition magazine for a handgun on the floor and a jar of marijuana. Bullet casings were found in the house, on the roof and in the gutters.

Officers found a .40-caliber Ruger in Dempsey’s yard and noticed that the top bullet in the magazine was backwards, preventing it from being fired.

Meloy told officers that Dempsey had stopped by his house the previous day and that he told Dempsey to leave after he started rambling and acting strangely.

Four bullets were found in Meloy’s yard  — 5 to 10 feet from his back door — and one in the fence separating his yard from Dempsey’s, the complaint states.

Early voting starts next week in county PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 17:24

Municipal officials expect large turnout of residents casting ballots before Nov. 8 presidential election

Early voting — an increasingly popular practice in Ozaukee County — will begin in many communities next week.

“Pretty much daily we’ve been getting calls from people asking about when they can vote,” Port Washington City Clerk Susan Westerbeke said.

The presidential election is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

During the last presidential election, she said, 2,145 voters cast their ballots early, either by submitting absentee ballots or through early voting. In that election, almost 90% of the city’s registered voters cast a ballot.

“I’m anticipating more people using early voting,” Westerbeke said. 

She’s not sure of the reason, she said, but she has a few thoughts about it.

“Maybe they feel there won’t be a line with early voting,” she said.

That’s not necessarily true, Westerbeke added. “If you have a big election, there’s going to be a line here,” she said. “Will it be as big as on election day? No.”

For some people, especially those who work until later in the evening or who are taking children to activities, early voting makes it easier to cast their ballot, Westerbeke added.

Westerbeke noted that the city has already mailed out absentee ballots for all those who have signed up for them. Ballots for people living overseas and who are in the military have also gone out.

“I sent one to Chile today,” she said Tuesday. “And one to Scotland yesterday.”

People who come in to cast their ballots must have a state approved form of identification with them, such as a driver’s license, state ID card, U.S. passport, university, college or technical school ID with enrollment verification or veterans’ health ID card.
They also need to be registered to vote. This can be done at the same time as early voting, but people must then have proof of residency with them.

Anyone who has questions about their voting status may check by calling their municipal office or online at, Westerbeke said. The necessary forms for voter registration and absentee ballots are also on the website.

Municipalities were given the power to set early voting dates. Westerbeke said municipal clerks in Ozaukee County’s larger communities agreed they would hold early voting during regular office hours from Oct. 10 through Nov. 4.

Those include the City of Port and villages of Fredonia, Saukville, Grafton and Belgium.

Smaller communities — primarily the townships — have set hours that conform more closely with the limited office hours they have, she said.

In the Town of Port Washington, early voting can be done from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays from Oct. 10 through Nov. 4.

Residents may also schedule an appointment for early voting by calling 284-5235.

In the Town of Grafton, early voting can be done from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Oct. 24 through 28 and Oct. 31 through Nov. 4.

In the Town of Belgium, residents can cast their ballots from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 8 a.m. to noon Thursdays from Oct. 11 through Nov. 3.

They may also contact Town Clerk Ginger Murphy for an appointment by calling 285-3326 or emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

In the Town of Saukville, early voting will be held from 7:30 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays from Oct. 11 through Nov. 2. Appointments may also be scheduled by calling 675-9217.

In the Town of Fredonia, early voting runs from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays from Oct. 12 through Nov. 4. Appointments may also be scheduled by calling 692-9673.Daily Press

Transportation funding to be focus of forum Thursday night PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Mitch Maersch   
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 17:21

Ozaukee County is one of about 70 locations statewide holding a forum Thursday, Sept. 29, to seek solutions to transportation funding.

The first event of its kind, Turn Out for Transportation will take public input on what transportation services and projects are most important. It is organized by the Wisconsin Counties Association, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Wisconsin Towns Association, Wisconsin County Highway Association and the Transportation Development Association.

“I’m just looking for some common sense efficiencies, not raising taxes,” said Tom Winker, unit chair for Ozaukee County’s five towns, town chairman of Belgium and county board supervisor.

Keeping up with road maintenance has been a challenge for towns for years.

Winker said one possible solution is to require bikers to have license plates again.

“When I was a little kid everybody in the village or city had a bicycle and everybody had a license plate. Now there are all these bicyclists on the trail and using the highway,” he said.

Winker suggested owners of specific cars could contribute as well.

“Electric cars don’t pay any gas tax. Don’t they like using the road? Wouldn’t they like to see it better?”

Winker said borrowing is not a good option.

“Twenty percent of state transportation dollars goes toward debt repayment. We will never borrow our way to success. We need to use every dollar we have to fix the roads,” he said.

Executive Director of the TDA Craig Thompson said the forums are not in response to Gov. Scott Walker’s recently released transportation budget. This was part of a yearlong Just Fix It campaign and planned before the budget proposal came out.

“We want to share that there are a lot of needs out there and want to find a sustainable solution,” he said.

Public input will be compiled from each forum and sent to the TDA, which will share the information on its website and with elected officials.

Winker said he invited two state assemblymen and senators to attend.

Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) said it’s premature to start picking sides in a budget discussion this early in the process.

“What the governor rolls out in January is a far cry from what is passed in July next year,” he said.

“But I’m willing to listen. There’s a lot of things that can be done as far as reforms before we start looking at ways to raise revenue.”

Ozaukee County’s event will be held at 7 p.m. in the County Board Room, 121 W. Main St., Port Washington.

Hosts include Highway Commissioner Jon Edgren, Winker and Port Mayor Tom Mlada.Daily Press

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