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Spending plans for 2017 budget fine-tuned by city committee PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 18:02

Feasibility studies for new fire station, senior center among options under consideration

Port Washington’s proposed 2017 budget was tweaked by the city’s Finance and License Committee in a daylong meeting Tuesday, and the spending plan contains funds for at least some of the initiatives officials have been looking at for some time.

However, some of that funding is tentative, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

For example, the proposed budget includes $15,000 in the contingency fund that could be used to finance a study of a new, west-side fire station. 

But, Grams said, that money could also be used to fund other capital items that weren’t included in the budget.

“There is no final decision about the funds, but there is money in contingency that could be used for the study,” he said.
The decision on how those funds will be used will likely come as the city concludes its budget process, Grams said.

Fire Chief Mark Mitchell has been seeking funding for the study since 2014, noting that the current fire station is too small for the department’s need and too far away from the city’s population center.

Also likely to be the topic of further discussion is the railing along the Coal Dock Park promenade.

The city had budgeted $90,000 for a railing that will run about halfway along the promenade this year, and officials had applied for a grant that would have funded much of the remainder of the railing.

But officials recently learned that the city did not receive the grant, and Grams said the Finance and License Committee decided not to include any additional funding for the railing in the budget.

Funding for the western half of the railing will be carried over into the 2017 budget, Grams said. 

However, he said, the decision not to fund the rest of the railing will likely be debated by the Common Council before the budget process is concluded.

The Coal Dock Park Committee was expected to discuss the situation when it met Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven noted that work on the western portion of the railing wasn’t done this year because officials had hoped to get the grant and realize some economies of scale by installing all the railing at one time.

He said he expects to seek bids for the project this fall with installation of the railing project occurring in spring. 

The railing, Vanden Noven said, will likely be placed about four feet off the edge of the promenade, which will accommodate the moorings and marina pedestals that are currently located along the edge.

Gates will be placed along the railing, and Vanden Noven said he expects they will be unlocked much of the time, allowing fishermen and others access to the edge of the walkway.

Also included in the budget are funds for a feasibility study for a new senior center.

The budget includes $15,000 for the city’s share of a study that will look at the feasibility of converting the Aurora Medical Clinic at 1777 W. Grand Ave. into a senior center, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

The city received a $20,000 matching community development block grant for the study earlier this year, and is expected to contribute $5,000 of in-kind work toward it, Grams said.

The city is working on a request for proposals intended to find a firm to conduct the study, he added.

Seniors have long expressed frustration with the current senior center building, and the city’s lease on the former church runs out at the end of this year. Officials have said they will seek a six-month extension on the lease, and these funds are in the budget, Grams said.

The budget doesn’t include any money to extend the lease further, although Grams said officials will likely continue the lease past mid-year.

The proposed budget also includes funding for the first stage of improvements to the entry to the breakwater, but none for the second phase of that work or work on the east end of the breakwater itself, Grams said.

“We don’t know yet what sort of grant money we might get, so it’s hard to budget anything for that,” he said.

Grams said the 2017 budget was extremely tight, especially since aldermen did not want to dip into surplus funds to meet the levy limit.

They’ve done that for the last several years, he said, and now want to rebuild the fund.

Grams said he expects to finalize the budget figures by next week. The proposed 2017 budget will be presented to the Common Council on Nov. 1, with a public hearing and action on the spending plan set for Nov. 15.Daily Press

 
Oct. 26 farm program to discuss healthy soils PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 17:58

A Managing Nutrients and Cover Crops for Healthy Soils program will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Eskra’s Farm in the Town of Fredonia.

The free event is being organized by the Ozaukee County Land and Water Management Department and Milwaukee River Watershed Clean Farm Families, a group of farmers and landowners dedicated to showcasing and promoting soil and water conservation practices.

The program will begin with observations of a five-acre test plot and include presentations from experts on cover crops and soil health. Following lunch, there will be demonstrations of tillage equipment and low-disturbance manure injection, weather permitting.

To make reservations or for more information, contact Geoff Schramm at the Ozaukee County Land and Water Management Department at 284-8315 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Eskra’s Farm is on the east side of Highway 57 at Beech Lane.Daily Press

 
Pumpkin fun to highlight beer garden finale Oct. 22 PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 17:57

Port Washington’s final beer garden of the season will host a plethora of autumnal activities Saturday, Oct. 22, including a pie contest and pumpkin carving.

The beer garden, hosted by the city’s Environmental Planning Committee, will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. but the annual Pumpkin Mania celebration will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Pumpkin Mania had been held in downtown previously, but was moved to the beer garden in Upper Lake Park this fall.

Free hollowed-out pumpkins will be available for children to carve, although they will have to bring their own tools. When they are completed, youngsters can take the jack-o’-lanterns home.

The pie contest will be held at 12:30 p.m. Three judges will taste pies submitted by local bakers to determine the best ones.

“They could be pecan, pumpkin, apple — any kind of pie,” coordinator Patti Lemkuil said. “Any kind of pie will do.”

The first-place winner will receive a $25 gift card to Daily Baking Co., and the second and third place winners will receive $15 and $10 gift cards, respectively.
Throughout the day, bands will play at the beer garden and food and drinks will be available for purchase.Daily Press

 
PW-S board plans to create at-large school seat PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 17:54

Long-vacant position for towns of Saukville, Grafton prompts proposal that will require approval of voters

Lacking a candidate or even a willing appointee to fill a long-vacant seat, the Port Washington-Saukville School Board decided last week to try and change the way one of its nine members is elected.

The problem is the seat representing a small, sparsely populated section of the school district in the towns of Saukville and Grafton, which has been vacant for a year.

The board intends to change this seat to an at-large position that can be filled by a resident who lives anywhere in the district, not just in this small section of the district.

Board bylaws currently call for the board to consist of five members from the City of Port Washington, two from the Village of Saukville and one each from the Town of Port Washington and the towns of Saukville and Grafton. The proposed change would only affect the Saukville-Grafton town seat.

Although board members are elected from and represent specific areas of the district, all voters can vote for all candidates. For example, a Village of Saukville resident can vote for a City of Port Washington School Board candidate.

The proposed change, seen by officials as a preferred alternative to reducing the board to seven members, is not, however, a quick fix, and is one that must be approved by voters.

The board must circulate a petition and collect the signatures of 500 district residents to have a resolution put on the April 2017 ballot.

If the measure is approved by voters, it will not take effect until the three-year term of the current town of Saukville-Grafton seat expires in April 2019.

Although not expedient, the change is seen as needed. One of the dangers of a board with an even number of members, Supt. Michael Weber pointed out, is tie votes, although that hasn’t been a problem with a current board that almost always votes unanimously.

“They like to operate a lot on consensus,” Weber said of board members. “They express their opinions, then work things out.”

A vacant Saukville-Grafton town seat was not always a problem. For 16 years it was occupied by Jim Eden, who served as board president for two of those years before resigning in March 2014.

The board appointed Paul Krechel in July of that year. Krechel ran unopposed in the April 2015 election but resigned in October of that year.

Despite the district’s efforts to find an appointee to fill the seat, as well as an April 2016 election that failed to attract a registered or even a write-in candidate, the seat has remained vacant since Krechel’s departure.Daily Press

 
Exploreum, Light Station open for free Saturday PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 12 October 2016 17:59

Port facilities among five area attractions showcased by Milwaukee Foundation

Expect the Port Exploreum and Light Station to be busy places on Saturday, Oct. 15.

The two facilities, both run by the Port Washington Historical Society, are among five Milwaukee area attractions open to the public for free that day, thanks to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

Both the Exploreum, 188 N. Franklin St., and Light Station, 311 N. Johnson St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

A shuttle bus will run between the two buildings every 15 minutes.

Wayne Chrusciel, executive director of the Port Washington Historical Society,  said he expects as many as 250 to 300 people to visit the two Port attractions that day — far more than the 50 to 60 who visit them on a typical weekend day. 

In addition to drawing more people to the facilities, the event will provide the Exploreum and Light Station with a significant amount of publicity, Chrusciel said.

“I think this will give us an incredible amount of exposure with a lot of people who have never heard of us or who haven’t been in Port Washington for a long time,” he said. 

“We’re hoping it generates a lot of excitement.”

Both the Exploreum and the Port Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center have been receiving calls from people interested in the event since it was announced last month, Chrusciel noted.

The Exploreum is featuring the “Nothing But Nets: The Legacy of Commercial Fishing in Port Washington” exhibit, which will run through the end of the year.

Chrusciel noted that the tall ship Denis Sullivan will also be in Port, there will be a beer garden in Upper Lake Park and the city’s farmer’s market will be running on Oct. 15.

“It could be quite the weekend in Port,” he said. “We can really showcase the city and what we have to offer.”

The Foundation, in partnership with the Fund for Lake Michigan, is offering the free admission to what it calls “signature lakefront destinations” as part of its Gifts to the Community program.

Other facilities offering free admission Oct. 15 are the Milwaukee Art Museum, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and Discovery World, all in Milwaukee.Daily Press

 
Many local households struggling financially, study says PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 12 October 2016 17:53

Nearly one-third of county families barely making ends meet, according to United Way’s ALICE analysis 

Almost a third of Ozaukee County households struggle to make ends meet, according to a recent statewide study conducted by 43 United Way agencies across Wisconsin.

“These are people who are working but they are barely making ends meet,” said Barbara Bates-Nelson, executive director of the United Way of Northern Ozaukee.

“These people are working but they’re strapped. If that one emergency hits, it could put them over the edge.”

The so-called ALICE study — it stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed — is intended to cast a light on the state’s pool of residents who work at relatively low paying jobs, have little or no savings and are one emergency from falling into poverty.

The Ozaukee County communities with the highest number of households that fall within the ALICE or poverty levels are Thiensville with 44%, Saukville with 40%, Port Washington with 38% and Grafton with 35%, according to the study.

The study found that of Ozaukee County’s 34,913 households, 1,746, or 5%, are under the federal poverty level and 9,078 are under the ALICE threshold.

“We all know ALICE,” Bates-Nelson said. “ALICE is the recent college graduate unable to afford to live on his or her own, the young family strapped by child-care costs and the mid-career professional now underemployed.

“I think we would all agree that Ozaukee County is a great place to live and work but ... every day families are struggling to make ends meet and are forced to make choices or delay planning for the future, which puts the wider community at risk.”

Ozaukee County is one of Wisconsin’s wealthiest counties, and that is reflected in the study, which shows that 42% of families statewide, or 960,131, are struggling to support themselves. That’s triple the number expected, the study states.

The study, Bates-Nelson added, tells a more complete story than just one that looks at the poverty rate.

“When you think poverty, I think most people think of people who aren’t working,” she said. “These are people who are working, and they’re working hard but they’re barely making ends meet.

“When you put it in terms like that, it’s just like, ‘Wow.’ It’s kind of staggering to people.”

The study measures the number of households that don’t earn enough to afford a basic household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation and health care.

The study determines that basic budget based on the cost of living in each county. For Ozaukee County, that is $50,000 for households with members younger than 65 and $40,000 for those older.

Most of the households are renters, the study states, yet fewer than half of the state’s rental units are considered affordable.

Most Ozaukee County residents have high housing costs, the study states, spending more than 30% of their income on housing. Because ALICE households earn more than the federal poverty rate, they often don’t qualify for government assistance programs, and nonprofit agencies often provide resources to help fill the gaps.

And those nonprofit agencies often rely on United Way for part of their funding. Last year, 12,000 individuals participated in United Way-funded programs, Bates-Nelson said.

“This mirrors what we’re hearing from the nonprofit community,” she said. 

“Our focus is to provide a basic foundation in education, financial stability and health, key elements that will improve the lives of both ALICE households and those in poverty for the long-term benefit of the wider community.” 

Bates-Nelson cited the United Way of Northern Ozaukee’s homeless prevention program, which helps people on a short-term basis get through emergency situations.

Most of those who use the program aren’t repeat customers but those who need a hand once, she said, adding the program enables them to get back on their feet and become self-sufficient again.

Last year, she said, the homeless prevention program helped 180 people who were in danger of losing their homes. As a result of the help they received, 83% are still in their homes today, Bates-Nelson said.

Another important issue United Way is focusing on is transportation, Bates-Nelson said, noting that if someone can’t afford a basic car repair they have few options to get to work. 

One of the most critical things about the study is that it illustrates the number of people who are forced to make decisions that have long-term effect — health care or electricity, medications or food — Bates-Nelson said.

“If you’re picking and choosing where you’re going to spend your money, chances are you’re putting off those preventive-type measures, like annual visits to the doctor that can catch problems before they become major health issues,” she said.

“You can only put off some of those things for so long.”  

United Way of Northern Ozaukee, along with its counterparts in Waukesha and Washington counties, conducted a similar study three years ago, and Bates-Nelson said that was an eye-opener because it showed that many people are struggling.

However, she said, it is difficult to compare the two studies because they differ in scope and detail.

“This was much more extensive,” she said.

“The exciting thing is that this study has been done statewide and, to some extent, nationwide,” Bates-Nelson said, noting similar studies have been done in 14 states. “It’s gaining momentum as a valuable piece of information to look at basic needs.”

There are no easy solutions to the issues in the Alice study, Bates-Nelson said.

“There are a number of issues here,” she said. “We’re looking to raise awareness and we’re looking for people to get involved in this. We’re trying to solve big, lasting problems.”Daily Press

 
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