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Port Washington


Port residents face 3% hike for sewer, water PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 18:46

City officials say utility rate increases are needed in 2011 to offset decline in use, cover rising costs

Port Washington residents will see their sewer and water bills increase 3% next year under the proposed 2011 utility budgets.

If approved, the increase would add $3.60 to the bimonthly bill of homeowners whose current sewer and water charge is $120, officials said.

The increases, which would be the first since 2008, are reflected in the proposed 2011 budgets for the water and sewer departments, officials told the Board of Public Works Tuesday.

For the water department, the proposed increase would bring in about $75,000 in additional revenue next year, Water Supt. Dave Ewig said.

The proposed sewer rate increase would result in about $47,000 more revenue for the wastewater department, Wastewater Supt. Dan Buehler said.

There are two main reasons for the proposed increases, the department heads said — people are using less water while costs are increasing, and the amount of industry in the city is decreasing.

“A lot of people are conserving water these days,” Buehler said. “We continue to see a drop in our revenue, but the vast majority of our costs are fixed.”

If residents were using the same amount of water they used in 2005 or 2006, he noted, “There would not need to be a rate increase this year.”   

Ewig concurred, noting that residents are using about the same amount of water they did a decade ago.

Although revenue is decreasing, he said, costs continue to climb. Electricity is expected to increase about 5% next year, he noted, and the cost of the chemicals used in treating the water also continues to increase.

The number of major businesses using water is also decreasing significantly. When Simplicity closed its doors, Buehler said, the wastewater utility lost about $100,000 in annual revenue.

The water department lost about $60,000, Ewig estimated.

“We’re fortunate we have revenue from the power plant,” he noted, adding that because the water used by the utility is discharged into Lake Michigan, there is little impact on the wastewater department.

“Our costs are spread across a relatively small base,” Ewig said. “We need more customers.”

The only good thing about people conserving water is that it will delay any future expansion of the plant, Buehler added.

Ewig noted that Port Washington isn’t the only community being hurt by the conservation movement and loss of industry. Saukville recently received approval for a 22% water rate hike, he said, and the cities of Milwaukee and South Milwaukee are both seeking double-digit increases.

“It’s really a statewide issue,” he said.

Another factor in the proposed rate increase is the lack of interest income, Buehler said. In 2008, he said, the wastewater utility received about $50,000 in interest. Next year, it will receive an estimated $8,000.

The departments also need to build up their reserve accounts, the superintendents said. Ewig said his department’s reserve account is about $1.4 million, but with bills for the Division, Wisconsin and Chestnut street projects outstanding. The Public Service Commission recommends a $1.5 to $2 million reserve fund, he said.

Buehler said his reserve fund is at about $1 million, but he would like to see it increase to at least $1.2 million as recommended by the Department of Natural Resources.

To help increase the reserve fund, Ewig recommended that after the Highway 33 reconstruction is completed in the coming year, the city focus on fixing roads that won’t require utility work for the next several years.

“We’ve taken on some very large projects in the last couple of years,” he said.

Because the proposed 3% water rate increase falls within parameters set by the PSC, the city will be able to approve the hike without going through a longer, more complicated hearing process, Ewig said.

In the past, the water department has put off asking for increases for longer periods, but the rate hikes have been significantly larger and required the more complicated process, he said.

“We were told by the Common Council (in 2008) that in the future they wanted us to come in more often with these smaller requests,” Ewig said. “They did not want those double-digit increases.”

The Common Council is expected to consider the water department request when it meets Tuesday, Oct. 5. It will then go to the PSC for final approval.

The sewer rate increase does not require PSC approval. It will be approved as part of the 2011 budget, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

 
Local United Way launches $175,000 campaign PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 18:38

Northern Ozaukee agency kicks off 60th anniversary fund drive that lowers target in face of tough economy

The United Way of Northern Ozaukee kicked off its 60th anniversary celebration and fund-raising campaign Tuesday, hoping to raise $175,000 to benefit 16 area nonprofit agencies.

That goal is $10,000 less than last year’s, a reflection of the struggling economy and the fact that the United Way did not meet last year’s goal, Executive Director Kathie Schaefer acknowledged.

“Boy, we didn’t want to do that,” she said. “It was difficult to come up with a number the community will be able to support — a realistic number.

“Things have changed. The needs everywhere are increasing. At the same time, things have changed with our companies, too.”

A number of local businesses have either closed their doors or laid off workers, Schaefer noted, and people who are still employed are struggling to make ends meet.

A report by Ozaukee Family Services shows that in 2009, 1,266 households received food shares, compared to 943 a year earlier, and 6,208 people qualified for medical assistance, compared to 4,736 the previous year, Schaefer noted.

The United Way opened its campaign with its Day of Caring Tuesday, with 10 of its board members helping with Family Fun Night at Ozaukee Family Services in Grafton.

For most county residents, however, the campaign will begin next week when fund-raising flyers are sent to them and workplace campaigns begin.

Workplace campaigns typically begin in October or November. Residents who work outside the county are encouraged to designate the United Way of Northern Ozaukee as the place where their contributions should be sent, Schaefer said.

To help celebrate its anniversary, and promote its campaign, the United Way is holding a drawing. Anyone who contributes $60 or more to the campaign will be entered into the drawing for donated prizes that include baskets, pottery, entertainment items and dinner certificates.

The United Way of Northern Ozaukee has its root in the Community Chest of Port Washington, which was formed in 1950 by a group of businessmen who wanted to consolidate fund-raising efforts in the city, Schaefer said. The group set its fund-raising goal at $5,000, which went to finance 11 agencies.

In 1962, the group became the United Fund of Port Washington. By 1969, it was the United Way of Port Washington and Saukville; and in 1998 the name changed again to United Way of Northern Ozaukee.

“Someone years ago called us the little engine that could,” Schaefer said.

“We want people to realize that by giving to United Way, they are giving to 16 different agencies. The money is well used by these agencies to benefit people in our county.”

These agencies include Advocates of Ozaukee, American Red Cross, Balance, Bay Lakes Council of the Boy Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ozaukee, Cope Services, Family Sharing of Ozaukee, Girl Scouts of Manitou Council, Interfaith Caregivers of Ozaukee County, Starting Point, Ozaukee County Circle of Friends, Ozaukee County Jail Literacy Program, Ozaukee Family
Services, Portal Industries, Salvation Army and the Volunteer Center of Ozaukee County.

Barbara Dickmann is chairman of this year’s United Way campaign.

 
City charts course for adding paramedics PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 17:49

With no objections voiced at public hearing, Port officials set to pursue goal of upgrading service

A small group of people on Monday heard Port Washington fire and ambulance officials lay out their plans to upgrade to a paramedic service.

When the 30-minute public hearing ended, one resident encouraged the department to pursue its goal.

“I think the EMTs are doing a fine job, but they’re limited in what they can do,” Jim Johnson said. “I think it’s time, and we are big enough, that we should go up to this level.”

Fire Chief Mark Mitchell concurred, noting that many people in the community already believe the EMTs are paramedics.

“We almost owe it to people to provide this,” he said. “The need is there. The numbers are there. I think we’ve got all the parts needed to make this work.”

Paramedics receive a significantly higher level of training that enables them to better assess patients, administer more medications and conduct procedures that EMTs cannot perform, said Thomas Dietrich, the medical director for Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee Hospital.

“Those are the skills that may save your life,” he said. “In many circumstances, it could make the difference between getting to the hospital and not getting there at all.”

They are especially important in cases such as heart attacks, he said, where paramedics can administer medications that typically would be given in the hospital.

The same is true in seizure cases, where medications that paramedics administer can stop the seizure, Dietrich said.   

“The big lifesavers are cardiac meds we can give people to stop lethal arrhythmias,” he said. “A lot of this stuff, it may not happen often, but when it does, you want to be able to do these things.”

Mitchell noted that in 2009, the ambulance services had 720 calls, and he estimated 25% of those cases could have benefitted from paramedic services.

Although the department calls for Thiensville’s paramedics to meet them along the way when those services are needed, often the ambulance is almost to the hospital by the time the two meet, he said, estimating it typically takes the Thiensville service about 20 minutes to meet up with Port’s.

“That’s just too long for someone to wait for paramedic intervention,” he said.

Dietrich noted that if Port Washington upgrades to a paramedic service, it will benefit not just city residents but residents throughout northern Ozaukee County because Port’s ambulance can respond to these scenes much more quickly than Thiensville. 

The department is proposing beginning paramedic service on a part-time basis Jan. 1 and, over two years, converting to a full-time paramedic service, Mitchell said.

Four of the department EMTs are certified paramedics, and they would form the core group for the service in the first year, he added.

The city would continue to recruit paramedics on a part-time basis to fully staff the service, Mitchell said.

The cost of the conversion would be covered through increased fees charged for the paramedic service, he said.

The Police and Fire Commission, which  held the hearing, offered its support for the paramedic program as well.

Mitchell noted that the department has submitted its paramedic proposal to the state, which must approve it before the service can begin.

After the state gives its approval, the commission and the Common Council will also need to approve it, Mitchell said.

 
Vandals busted after residents aid police PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 18:13

Four teens arrested for mailbox-smashing spree in Port, including one awaiting sentence on felony drug charges

A group of west-side Port Washington residents who saw a car full of teenage vandals smash mailboxes with a baseball bat while speeding through their subdivision Saturday night put lawn chairs in the street to slow the vehicle — a move that allowed them to get the license-plate number and report the youths to police.

Four youths were arrested in connection with the incident, including a Grafton teenager who is awaiting sentencing on three felony counts of selling marijuana.

Andrew B. Kellett, 17, was charged in Ozaukee County court Tuesday with felony bail jumping in connection with Saturday’s incident.

He and Maxwell Savatski, 18, of Port Washington, were also charged with six misdemeanor counts of being a party to criminal damage to property for smashing six mailboxes during Saturday’s spree.

Two other 17-year-old boys from Grafton are expected to be charged with misdemeanors in connection with the incident later this week, District Attorney Adam Gerol said Tuesday.

Police lauded the actions of the residents.

“We couldn’t have done this without them,” Port Washington Police Lt. Eric Leet said. “This is a testament to the quality of our citizens, and a sign of a strong neighborhood. They look out for each other.”

Police Chief Richard Thomas said the incident had the potential for far more serious consequences.

“This could have gotten much worse,” he said. “This could have escalated. These teenagers put a lot of people at risk, including themselves.

“This was an excellent case of residents helping police.”

In the drug case against Kellett, he is accused of being a major player in a marijuana distribution ring. He was among six teens, all Grafton High students at the time, who were arrested in
April in a sting operation conducted by the county’s multi-jurisdictional drug task force.

Kellett, who pleaded guilty to three felony counts of selling marijuana, is scheduled to be sentenced in that case on Sept. 21. Gerol said last month that his office was asking Judge Paul Malloy to withhold a prison sentence and instead order Kellett to a lengthy period of probation and one year in the county jail.

Kellett was free on $5,000 bail on the conditions that he neither drink alcohol nor use controlled substances and that he observe a 10 p.m. curfew.

Saturday’s incident occurred about 11:15 p.m. when police said the youths left an underage drinking party at Savatski’s home in the Greystone subdivision on the city’s south side, driving north into the nearby Bley Park Estates subdivision at speeds estimated to be as high as 60 mph, smashing mailboxes and the taillight of a parked car.

The group of adults enjoying a campfire on Brian Court heard the car and the damage and saw the youths striking mailboxes in the area, police said. When the car turned onto Brian Court, they placed their chairs in the road to slow the vehicle as it traveled up and down the dead-end street.

Police traced the license plate number and were able to identify the driver and his passengers.

According to police, the teenagers gathered at Savatski’s home for a party earlier in the evening. Kellett told police that the other three consumed beer and smoked marijuana before deciding to smash mailboxes in the area, the complaint states.

One of the Grafton teens drove the vehicle, police said, adding that he and one of the other teens were ticketed for underage consumption of alcohol.

The driver was also cited for reckless driving, police said.

On Tuesday, Judge Sandy Williams set Kellett’s bail at $1,500 and Savatski’s at $500. She also ordered the two to have no contact with each other, and Savatski to maintain absolute sobriety.

A plea hearing for Savatski is set for Tuesday, Sept. 21. A status conference for Kellett is set for the same day.

If convicted of bail jumping, Kellett faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In the drug case, he faces a total maximum penalty of 13 years in prison and a $30,000 fine for the three counts.

He and Savatski each face a maximum nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine for each count of criminal damage to property.

 
Vandalism crackdown leads to arrest PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 18:10

Saukville man, 51, nabbed by Port police after trying to destroy tree on Franklin Street in front of tavern patrons

Port Washington police, who began a crackdown on downtown vandalism this past weekend, arrested a 51-year-old Saukville man early Saturday for trying to destroy a tree on Franklin Street.

The man was one of two people arrested and three cited for various violations during the expanded downtown patrols, according to police.

Seven trees in downtown have been destroyed by vandals this summer, frustrating residents, merchants and police and prompting the crackdown.

“I feel really good about this,” Police Chief Richard Thomas said. “We are not going to tolerate anyone damaging our beautiful downtown.”

The Saukville man was arrested about 2:20 a.m. Aug. 28 after two officers saw him bending over a gingko tree in the 200 block of North Franklin Street, according to police.

Lt. Eric Leet, one of the officers who witnessed the incident, said the man had been at a downtown tavern and was intoxicated. He didn’t offer a reason for his actions, Leet added.

“The explanation he offered was that he didn’t do it,” Leet said.

The man wasn’t shy about his actions, he added.

“The street was full of people,” Leet said. “It was probably witnessed by 40 to 50 bar patrons leaving downtown.”

That may work in the city’s favor, Leet noted.

“These people got to see a guy pulling on a tree arrested. To me, that would make an impact,” he said.

Police have asked the Ozaukee County district attorney’s office to charge the man with a misdemeanor count of attempting to destroy property, Thomas said.

“What a jerk,” Thomas said of the man.

If the district attorney declines to press charges because he does not believe he can meet the burden of proof required, Thomas said, police will issue the man a municipal citation for attempted damage to property. Municipal citations do not require the same burden of proof as a criminal charge.

That same hard-line stance will be followed for anyone who commits or tries to commit vandalism downtown, Thomas said.

“One way or another, they will be held accountable,” he said.

Misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct have been requested against the other man arrested early Saturday. The 27-year-old Port Washington man was screaming and tipping over construction barricades at the intersection of Wisconsin Street and Grand Avenue about 12:30 a.m., police said.

In addition, three men were cited for open intoxicants during the early hours of Saturday and Sunday. One of the men was also cited for littering.

Leet said police have adjusted their traditional north and west patrol areas so that each one overlaps downtown on weekend evenings, allowing these officers to spend time downtown.

He also patrolled downtown, as did the bike patrol officer, all of whom were visible to people downtown, Leet said.

“There were times this weekend when we had two squads downtown as well as (the bike patrol officer),” he said. “We wanted to make a point. I, like everyone else in town, get tired of seeing the trees destroyed.”

In addition to the increased police presence, he said, two reserve police officers were posted in downtown storefronts conducting surveillance Friday and Saturday nights. If they saw anything suspicious, they radioed the officers on duty.

“We didn’t want to give up completely on our visible presence,” he said, noting that it is an effective way to prevent problems. “We’d rather prevent (actions) than catch (violators after the fact), but if we can’t prevent, we’ll settle for catching.”

The crackdown will continue as officers are available until the vandalism abates, Leet said.

“Until we start to see signs the patrons down there are willing to act responsibly, we’ll have to keep this up,” he said, noting that the program will be evaluated in a month.

“We never like to have to do the zero-tolerance thing. Discretion is part of good policing. But what we’ve been doing so far hasn’t been working, so this is the next logical step.”

Thomas said the department is in the process of creating signs for downtown businesses to post warnings of the crackdown and the fact police are watching for vandals.

In addition, he said, the city has ordered special tree guards to place around the trees near Schooner Pub and Foxy’s, where most of the trees have been broken this year, in an attempt to protect them.

In addition, anyone who witnesses vandalism is encouraged to report it via the city’s new vandalism hotline at 268-7682. A $50 reward is offered for tips leading to the arrests of vandals.

Both Leet and Thomas praised business owners who have offered their storefronts for surveillance.

“We’ve got to give the business community a big hand,” Thomas said.

 


FRUSTRATED WITH THE wanton destruction of trees along Franklin Street in downtown Port Washington, such as this gingko that was destroyed by vandals Aug. 14, police increased their night patrols beginning last weekend. It paid off when early Saturday, they arrested one man who officers say was trying to break a tree in the 200 block of Franklin Street.
Photo by Bill Schanen IV
 
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