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Port Washington


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.

 
Assessments for Hwy. 33 work spark complaints PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 05 October 2011 18:31

Property owners protest city plan to have them pay part of road improvement costs

Property owners along Highway 33 on Tuesday asked the Port Washington Common Council to reconsider plans to assess them for a portion of the cost of rebuilding the road, saying the work benefits the community more than it does them.

“What do I need with fancy lights? What do I need with a median? It doesn’t change the sales I have at Stevlin’s,” asked Steve Boyea, who faces estimated assessments of $7,000 on his home and $21,600 on the neighboring hardware store that he owns with his sister Linda.

“Where the hell am I going to come up with $22,000? I wish you would reconsider it. I don’t feel it’s a fair assessment.”

Attorney Tim Voeller, general counsel for Bielinski Homes, reminded aldermen that special assessments need to be for things that provide a specific benefit to the property owner, not a community benefit.

Bielinski Homes faces an estimated $16,257 special assessment for the Highway 33 project, while Bielinski Commercial LLC, which owns the shopping center property in the Hidden Hills subdivision, is expected to pay almost $27,000 in special assessments.

The exact amount of the assessments won’t be known until after the Highway 33 project is completed next year, officials said.

The projected assessments range from $158 for a residential property in the City of Port to $65,580 for land owned by Ozaukee County. The assessments may be paid over five years at an interest rate of about 3%, officials said.

The largest assessments are for properties in the Town of Port Washington, including Boyea. Because of that, the charges won’t be collected until the properties are annexed into the city.

The assessments are calculated based on frontage along Highways 33 and LL and cover a portion of the cost of improvements, including street construction, curb, gutter and sidewalk.

In areas where there are existing concrete curbs and improved streets, there is no assessments for this work, Port Washington Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.

The assessments do not include funds for the ornamental lights or landscaping in the median, he added.

Vanden Noven said the city policy is to assess for improvements when rural roads are converted into urban streets. Property owners in existing city subdivisions paid for their streets and sidewalks when their homes were built, he said. 

The city has been consistent in applying this policy, City Administrator Mark Grams said, noting it was followed when South Spring Street was improved 10 years ago and when Highway LL was rebuilt east of Wisconsin Street on the city’s north side.

But Boyea argued that the city could have opted to build a simple five-lane road — four lanes with a center turn lane — but instead chose to create a larger highway with a median and ornamental lighting to create a gateway to the community. 

“If that’s the case, Port Washington should bear the brunt of this and pay the cost,” he said. “The real benefit is to the communities, Port Washington and Saukville.”

The Village of Saukville is not assessing property owners for the Highway 33 project. 

However, Vanden Noven said there was no design that would have eliminated the city’s cost for the road project, and thus the special assessments.

Highway 33 property owners are not paying the full 25% of the city’s cost for both lanes going in front of their land, he added. Instead, their assessments are based on one traffic lane.

Boyea argued the road improvements aren’t benefitting his property, but are instead causing the value to decrease.

Even if he isn’t forced to pay the assessment now, the charge will hamper his ability to sell his property in the future, Boyea said, noting the buyer will have to factor the payment into the price.

Although the council held the public hearing now, the assessments won’t be finalized until the Highway 33 project is completed next year, officials said.

 
City plans host of street projects in 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 18:35

Although the City of Port Washington won’t undertake any new street projects next year, it is already planning for work in 2013.

The Board of Public Works on Tuesday agreed to apply for a $41,500 Department of Transportation local road improvement grant that would be used to resurface Cedar drive, court and circle on the west side of the city.

The grant would require a city match,  bringing the total available for the project to $83,000, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said, noting that the total project cost is estimate at $195,200.

Officials have said they are willing to borrow to fund road projects again in 2013, Vanden Noven said.

The board reviewed the city’s five-year street plan, which must be submitted with the grant application.

The plan calls for the city to resurface a number of streets in 2013 at an estimated cost of $700,000.

They include Washington Street between Milwaukee and Wisconsin streets, Terrace Drive south of Woodview Circle, Oak, Sumac, Elm and Willow courts, Sauk Drive from Pierre Lane to the end, Parkway Drive from Norport Drive to the dead end and from Jacque Lane to Parknoll Drive and Westport Drive from Cedar to Portview and south of Second Avenue.

Vanden Noven said he selected Cedar for the grant funding because it came closest to meeting the $83,000 in grant and matching funds.

But Ald. Jim Vollmar questioned the methodology, saying the city should first look at fixing major streets that need work, then at secondary road and only after that at neighborhood roads “that are just serving a few homes.”

Cedar is basically a neighborhood road, he said, while other streets in the city are in worse shape and handle more cars each day.

But Vanden Noven said those streets require reconstruction, a more costly project than the resurfacing that’s envisioned in 2013.

“To make the funding go as far as possible, the city will be resurfacing a number of roads in 2013,” he said.

Because many of the streets that will be resurfaced in 2013 are in the Westport Meadows subdivision, the city will also realize economies of scale when doing this work, Vanden Noven added.

“Even though they’re not well traveled, they’re in horrible shape,” he said. “We can knock out all of Westport Meadows with this one project.”

The five-year street plan calls for the city to reconstruct three roads at a cost of $800,000 in 2014, including Holden Street from Orchard to Jackson streets, Jackson Street from Holden to Webster streets and Van Buren Street from Holden to Wisconsin Street.

In 2015, the plan is to reconstruction Larabee Street, Crocker Street and Lincoln Street from Summit Drive to Spring Street.

Milwaukee Street would be rebuilt from Jackson to Walters streets and Harrison Street would be reconstructed from Van Buren to Walters street in 2016 for $900,000, according to the plan.

In 2017, the plan calls for spending $1.3 million to reconstruct Milwaukee Street from Grand Avenue to Sauk Creek; Antoine Drive from Lakeview to Husting Street; Keeney Avenue from Oakland Avenue to its end; Montgomery Street from Walters to Dodge street; Norport Drive from Frances to Holden; Whitefish Road from Hales Trail to Lakeview Street; Oakland Avenue from North Spring to Park Street; and Prospect Street from Wisconsin Street to its end.

The board also agreed to apply for a $10,000 forestry grant to help plant parkway trees next year.

While the city will undoubtedly receive the local road improvement grant, “the likelihood of our getting this (forestry) grant is not that great,” Vanden Noven told the board.

But because the application will tie the planting of these trees to the city’s emerald ash borer preparedness plan, a priority for the grant, he said there is a chance the city will receive it.

The city currently budgets $5,000 to buy about 100 bare-root trees each year, placing these in areas where there are gaps in the plantings, Vanden Noven said.

This money, plus the cost of planting the trees, would be the match for the grant, if it’s received, he said.

“We’re trying to fill all the gaps we have in our street trees so when the emerald ash borer arrives and we have to cut down all these (ash) trees, it won’t be bare,” Vanden Noven said. “Obviously, we’re hoping it comes later rather than sooner so we don’t have as many gaps.”

 
Suspect in Port burglaries arrested PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 22:15

Milwaukee man in jail as police seek charges for July crimes at businesses


Port Washington police on Monday arrested a 20-year-old Milwaukee man in connection with two burglaries in the city in July.

Police are asking the district attorney’s office to charge the man with two counts of burglary and one count of bail jumping, Chief Richard Thomas said.

The man, who is in custody in the Ozaukee County jail, was identified after police were able to obtain a fingerprint from a piece of broken glass at the scene of the burglaries, Thomas said.

The print was matched to the suspect by the state’s fingerprint data base, he said — the first time the database has been used by the department to solve the burglary of a business.

The July 23 burglaries were at Oh Zone! hair salon, 480 W. Grand Ave., and Homeward Bound Tattoo, 484 W. Grand Ave.

Thomas credited the work of officers Matt Keller and Craig Czarnecki, who processed the burglary scenes, and Eric Schmeling, who conducted follow-up work, with solving the crimes.

Thomas noted that the crime illustrates a growing trend in the area.

“The fact that this evidence led us to a suspect from Milwaukee shows that criminals are much more transient than they were years ago,” he said.

“Crime is not as local as it used to be, which doesn’t make our job any easier.”

In other police news:

Officers were called to Westport Meadows Park at 5 p.m. Sept. 16 after receiving a report of juveniles trying to set a fire under the trees. When they arrived, they found a 15-year-old Port boy. He was cited for setting an open fire, police said.

About 8:45 a.m. Sept. 15, police received a report from Port Washington High School of a teen who was intoxicated.

The 15-year-old Saukville boy was cited for underage consumption of alcohol and possession of tobacco and was referred to juvenile authorities on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting or obstructing an officer and escape, police said.

A 57-year-old Port Washington man who called 911 about 2:25 p.m. Sept. 12 looking for the police department’s non-emergency number was warned for misuse of the emergency line.

The man, who was found to be intoxicated, was calling to report vehicles speeding past his home on Norport Drive, police said. No vehicles were observed speeding when officers arrived.

 
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