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Port Washington


Engine noise irks Town of Port residents PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 19:11

A group of Town of Port Washington residents, frustrated by loud noise from the Briggs & Stratton testing grounds that they said interrupts their life throughout the day and night, asked the Town Board for help Monday night.

“Thursday night was the worst it’s ever been,” one woman said. “I couldn’t even sleep in my bed.”

Connie Pals, 3377 Terry La., compared the noise to a neighbor running a snowthrower at 6 a.m.

“During the day, it’s fine. Every once in a while, it’s fine,” she said. “But that’s what I get to listen to 24 hours a day, day and night.”

Pals said she has contacted Briggs & Stratton about the noise, but the company denied causing a problem, saying they don’t run engines around the clock.

“What is that noise I hear at 2 in the morning?” she asked. “I don’t feel like I’m being heard. I’m asking for your help.

“I’m thrilled to have them here in the town, but they have to work with me.”

Former town clerk Katherine Allen, who also lives on Terry Lane, said noise complaints about the testing grounds date back to the mid-1980s. At that time, she said, Simplicity Manufacturing — which was later bought by Briggs & Stratton — agreed to plant trees as a noise barrier.

“I thought at one point they weren’t going to run their tractors at night or on weekends,” she said. “Nothing’s changed, and it’s worse. It’s like an echo in my bedroom, and it’s been that way for 25 years. I like to have my windows open in summer and I can’t.”

Lucy Christopoulos, 3280 Hwy. LL, said she hasn’t heard a significant amount of noise until recently.

“I thought it was the Highway LL bridge coming down,” she said. “It’s very disturbing.”

Chuck Hamell, 3271 Bay Hill Rd., told the Town Board that the noise got worse this summer and hasn’t let up.

“I don’t know what they’re doing differently,” he said, “but it does seem worse. It does seem like it’s gotten louder. We can hear it over the air conditioning in summer. It doesn’t matter if the house is closed up.”

Town officials were sympathetic to the residents’ plight, with Building Inspector Rick Fellenz noting that town ordinances require that the noise at the lot line not exceed 85 decibels.

Town Chairman Jim Melichar said he would talk to the company to try and reach a solution, and also asked that the Plan Commission look at the town ordinances to see if they need to be beefed up to handle the situation.

“We don’t want to chase them out of the town,” he said, but the firm needs to respond to the residents’ complaints.

“Go talk to them, but we probably should contact our attorney and get him going on that, too,” Supr. Jim Rychtik said.

 
City budget plan calls for slight tax cut PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 18:51

Port spending package to be considered Nov. 15 by council would pare tax rate by 25 cents per $1,000


Port Washington residents will likely see a slight decrease in their property taxes next year, aldermen were told Tuesday.

The proposed $8.6 million 2012 budget was touted by aldermen, who said it will provide residents with the same quality services at a reduced cost — an achievement in a year when the city lost nearly $167,000 in state aid.

“Overall, it’s a very good budget in a very tough economic time,” Ald. Dave Larson, chairman of the Finance and License Committee, said.

Although he does not have the city’s assessed valuation yet, City Administrator Mark Grams said he expects the $4.92 million tax levy to be raised through a tax rate of $5.78 per $1,000 valuation, 25 cents per $1,000 less than last year.

The owner of a house valued at $200,000 will pay $49.89 less in city taxes this year, he said.

However, the city removed its recycling costs from the property tax and added it as a separate charge. Once that is figured in, he said, the net tax bill will be $5.89 less than last year.

“It’s not a huge decrease, but it is a decrease,” Larson said. “In these times, it’s a big deal.”

The biggest reason the city was able to handle the loss in state aid is the fact employees will be paying 5.8% of their retirement costs and 12% of their health insurance premiums, officials said.

Police officers are not required under the state’s budget-repair law to make these contributions, but they are incorporated into the budget, Grams said, noting they will have to be negotiated in the new police contract.

The city is also benefitting from the fact its health insurance premiums are expected to decrease an estimated 3.5% Grams said.

The proposed budget eliminates the  city’s shared-ride taxi service, but that will be replaced by the Ozaukee County taxi, which Larson said should provide similar service to residents.

There will be some fee increases next year, Larson said, including those for the pool, senior center and building permits. The city’s rates are less than those charged by many other communities, he said.

But Mayor Scott Huebner questioned the need to raise rates, saying that if the city is covering its costs it should not boost the fees.

“Let’s be cautious and not follow the same path as the mediation/arbitration law,” which forced communities to boost their contract settlements based on what other municipalities settled for, Huebner said.

“We’re not looking to match (other communities),” Larson said. “We just want to be at a more responsible lower level.”

A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15. The Common Council is expected to act on the budget the same night.

 
Rescue crews pull boater from lake PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 21:33

Port emergency workers save Wauwatosa man after he falls overboard in marina

Port Washington rescue crews had to fish a 61-year-old Wauwatosa man out of Lake Michigan after he fell from his boat and couldn’t get out of the water.

Witnesses told police they heard the man fall as he was trying to tie the bow line of his boat about 5:45 p.m. Oct. 23 and called 911, according to authorities.

Officers found the man struggling in the water near a sailboat docked south of the launch ramps.

Officers could not pull him out, so they held on to the man and used flotation devices to keep his head above water until the Port Washington Fire Department divers arrived.

Divers helped lift the man from the water, police said. He was then taken by the Port Washington ambulance to the hospital for treatment.

According to witnesses, the man’s boat struck a pier while navigating through the marina and preparing to dock, police said.

The witnesses saw him dock and tie the stern line of his boat, then heard the splash as he hit the water while trying to tie his bow line.

The Department of Natural Resources, which assisted the police department in investigating the incident, cited the man for operating a motor boat while under the influence of intoxicants.

 
Recycling cost to be covered by charge on Port tax bills PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 18:50

Council OKs change that shifts expense from levy, helps businesses and condo owners


Port Washington residents will no longer pay for recycling through the city’s tax levy, the Common Council agreed Tuesday.

Instead, the city will place a special charge on tax bills to pay for the service.

“The bottom line effect is going to be zero, basically,” Ald. Dave Larson, chairman of the Finance and License Committee, said. “For a few people, it’s going to be more — and I’m talking about cents more, not dollars.

“The only difference is that it will be broken out now.”

Removing the cost of recycling from the general tax levy and instituting a separate charge for it is a measure being adopted by more and more communities statewide as they struggle to meet every tightening levy limits.

Locally, the Village of Saukville has funded both its garbage and recycling programs this way since 2009.

It’s also a more fair way of paying for recycling, Larson said. The owners of many condominiums, as well as business and industry, who currently pay for recycling through their tax bills but don’t receive collection from the city, will save money this way, he noted.

“If you’re receiving the service, you should pay for it,” he said, and if you’re not, you shouldn’t pay for it.

Port Washington households will be charged $44 for recycling.

The city has looked at instituting a separate recycling charge in the past, but decided against it. However, with the state cutting aid for the program by $11,000 for 2012, officials said it was time to reconsider the measure.

“It makes a lot of sense, especially with the reduction in state aid,” Larson said.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Ald. Jim Vollmar said.

 
PW-S district student count up 27 this year PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 23:10

Larger enrollment also includes net gain of 43 through open enrollment


The Port Washington-Saukville School District has 27 more students this year than last, according to the third Friday enrollment, Director of Business Services Jim Froemming told the School Board Monday.

The district has 2,725 students this year compared to 2,698 last year, he said.

The good news, Froemming said, is that the district had a net gain of 43 students through open enrollment.

“It says a lot about the quality of education here,” he said. “We’re seeing a decrease in the number of kids leaving the district, and an increase in incoming students. That means we’re an attractive place for kids to enroll.”

This year, 108 students who live in the  district are being educated elsewhere through open enrollment, compared to 120 last year, Froemming said.

But 139 students from outside the district enrolled in the Port-Saukville schools, compared to 108 last year, he said.

Forty-four of those students are enrolled at Port High, 41 at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, 26 at Dunwiddie Elementary School, 15 at Lincoln Elementary and 13 at Saukville Elementary.

The number of 4-year-old preschoolers dropped by 12 this year, Froemming said, from 166 last year to 155.

There are 194 kindergarten students, he said, close to the maximum number the district can accommodate without adding a class. Only two of these students attend half-day kindergarten.

Because of that, the district will have to take a close look at its first-grade numbers for next year — when these kindergarteners move up — decide how many students it will accept through open enrollment, Froemming said.

“The goal is to fill the seats in your classes without having to open more sections of the class,” he said.

The cost of adding sections quickly outweighs the benefit of additional state aid from these open-enrollment students, Supt. Mike Weber said.

“It takes an awful lot of open enrollment students to make up the cost of that extra teacher,” he said. “But if we have space, if we have teachers and programs to accommodate these kids, why not accept them?”

Froemming also told the board that 1,333 students attended summer school, receiving a total of 6,308,224 minutes of instruction.

 
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