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Port Washington


City officials stand firm on wristband plan PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 05 August 2015 20:44

Police and Fire Commission reiterates support for proposed ID requirement to drink alcohol at festivals

    The Port Washington Police and Fire Commission on Monday reiterated its support for the concept of requiring wristbands for anyone drinking alcohol at festivals in the city.

    This requirement would demonstrate that the city is sincere in its desire to combat underage drinking, commission members said, adding they will make a recommendation to adopt a wristband program to the Common Council next month.

    “We’ll keep talking about this until we’re blue in the face,” commission member Marty Becker said. “I think we have to discuss this at every meeting until it gets done.”

    The wristband program was initially suggested for use at this year’s Fish Day — the city’s largest festival — but that proposal was rejected by the city’s Finance and License Committee after the festival’s organizing committee opposed it.

    Aldermen lauded the intention but questioned the logistics of the program and suggested the concept be revisited for next year.

    “My thoughts are it sends a message that underage drinking and overconsumption isn’t tolerated in our city,” Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said. “I think that’s an important message.”

    At this year’s Fish Day, he said, 12 people were cited for underage drinking and one nonprofit organization was cited for serving underage drinkers.

    “That’s what we caught,” Hingiss said.

    “If the officers caught this many, you can be sure there were four or five times more who didn’t get caught,” Becker said. “The officers can’t catch everybody.”

    Hingiss said he had worked with the county’s Public Health Department on the program, which would have required people to show their identification and receive a wristband at one of several booths set up around the Fish Day grounds.

    Anyone serving alcoholic beverages at the fish and chips stands would have been able to easily determine if the person purchasing drinks was old enough to do so legally, he said.

    Commission member Terry Tietyen questioned whether servers at the stands are licensed bartenders. Most aren’t, he was told.

    “If you’re going to have all these people serving alcohol, they should have training,” Hingiss said. “You have to be responsible.”

    Becker said many of the older workers in particular serve beers without checking identifications.

    “You want a beer, you get a beer,” he said.

    Hingiss said he brought the concept to the Fish Day Committee last fall, and while members initially seemed receptive the proposal languished until it was too late to implement this year.

    “I gave them plenty of time,” he said.

    By working on a policy now, Hingiss said, that won’t happen again next year.

    A number of festivals around the area used wristbands, he said, including Brat Days in Sheboygan. He said he intends to discuss the program with them before the September commission meeting to get a sense of how to best implement it.

    Commission members questioned why anyone would oppose the program, saying it’s an easy way to ensure those purchasing alcohol are old enough to legally buy it.

    “It’s simple — you want a beer, you need a wristband,” Commission Chairman Rick Nelson said.

    But, Nelson cautioned, it’s a program that needs the support of everyone to work.

    “If everybody’s not going to support this, it’s going to be shot down,” he said.

    Commission members said they are poised to recommend to the Finance and License Committee and Common Council that the city require all festivals, not just Fish Day, implement a wristband program.

    While they originally talked about requiring it only for events held on city grounds, members said they want to see it at all festivals where alcohol is served and a city permit is required.

    That would include church festivals on church grounds, they said.

    “We at least want them to consider it,” Nelson said.



 
Port loses one grant, receives another for breakwater PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 29 July 2015 20:19

City slowly closing in on goal of raising $1 million for additional improvements

    Port Washington officials last week continued their slow but steady trek toward repairing the breakwater, accepting a $77,500 Fund for Lake Michigan grant for the entryway and applying for a $250,000 harbor assistance grant to fund work on the steel-cell portion of the structure.

    The city has committed to paying $1 million for work on the steel-cell portion of the breakwater next year, and so far has raised about $600,000 in grants for the project, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

    That includes $500,000 from the Waterways Commission’s recreational boating fund and $73,500 previously earmarked for a boat platform at Coal Dock Park.

    The city is also applying for an additional $100,000 from the recreational boating fund, Grams said.

    “If we get these, we’ll be close to that $1 million,” Grams said.

    The city has several grant applications pending and should learn whether it will receive those funds next month, he added.

    But the city’s efforts to pay for work on the steel-cell portion of the breakwater also suffered a blow earlier this month when the state pulled a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant it had previously awarded the city.

    “They said we didn’t meet enough of their criteria,” Grams said, adding several other cities also had their grants rescinded by the state.

    The city is also raising funds to improve the entry to the breakwater, including making it handicapped accessible, installing a boardwalk and fishing platform and developing a kayak launch and wetlands.

    The cost of that work is estimated at $600,000, plus $100,000 for engineering, Grams said.

    The city has already received a $75,000 stewardship grant for that work, he said. The Fund for Lake Michigan grant includes $75,000 for the entryway and $2,500 for the city to take part in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, he noted.

 
Commission says yes to subdivision TIF plan PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 22 July 2015 20:24

Financing district expected to be approved by Port council will pave way for southside Cedar Vineyard development

    A tax incremental financing plan that would pave the way for the Cedar Vineyard development on Port Washington’s south side and expansion of the city’s industrial park was approved last week by the Plan Commission.

    No one commented on the plan during a public hearing before the commission, and it was approved unanimously.

    Officials touted the fact that the TIF district is likely to pay for itself within 15 years, far sooner than initially expected.

    “Even if the stars don’t align completely, it could still get paid off in less than 20 years,” Ald. Dan Becker, a member of the commission, said.

    The TIF district projects include everything from the extension of utility lines to road improvements, bike paths, walking trails and money to help purchase a 101-acre nature preserve in the Cedar Vineyard subdivision.

    In the industrial park, the funds would be used for utility work as well as the purchase of property — work that would not only allow for the expansion of the park but also facilitate an addition to one existing business and relocation of another.

    The $7 million in improvements would help boost the value of the proposed 409-acre district by $71 million, according to a TIF study conducted by Trilogy Consulting.

    The district is currently valued at $8.3 million.

    City officials touted the fact that the TIF study used conservative numbers in its estimates to ensure the district can pay for itself.

    For example, it used the longest development timeline and highest cost estimates for the improvements while anticipating the lowest revenue benefits, officials said.

    “We’re optimistic the numbers work out,” City Administrator Mark Grams said. “The improvements in those areas will more than cover the costs.”  Review Board, as well as the Common Council.

    Aldermen are expected to approve the proposed district when they meet on Tuesday, Aug. 4. The Joint Review Board will then consider approval of the district on Aug. 19.

    If the state then approves the TIF, the Highview Group is expected to purchase the land for the Cedar Vineyard development and begin work on the project.

    The Cedar Vineyard development — the first phase of development in the district — would encompass 58 acres of residential lots, 68 acres for the vineyard and winery and 101 acres for a nature preserve.

    “This is a very unique, high-quality development that would not be happening without the support of the TIF,” Christy Cramer of Trilogy Consulting told the Plan Commission. “In my opinion, it is economically feasible.”

    The first phase of the plan would also include the development of six undeveloped or underdeveloped parcels in the industrial park, the plan states.

    The second phase would encompass almost 105 acres in the industrial park, roughly half of which would be used for light industrial development, the plan states.

    While the Cedar Vineyard portion of the TIF has gotten the most attention, Ald. Mike Ehrlich said no one should underestimate the district’s importance to the industrial park.

    “This gives us the opportunity to expand our industrial park, which is sorely needed,” Ehrlich said.

    If approved, Grams said, the city would likely begin planning for the infrastructure improvements for the Cedar Vineyard project, with work slated for next spring.

    The Highview Group would like to begin its work on the subdivision already this fall, Grams added.



 
City poised to create subdivision TIF district PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 15 July 2015 19:37

Plan that goes to public hearing this week calls for $6 million in public upgrades for Cedar Vineyard project

    The City of Port Washington is poised to create a tax-incremental financing district for the proposed Cedar Vineyard development on the city’s southeast side, as well as improvements to the industrial park.

    The public can weigh in on the plan during a public hearing before the Plan Commission at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 16, at City Hall.

    In a TIF district, increases in property taxes generated by development within the district are used to pay for a variety of improvements, primarily infrastructure costs.

    The proposed district would include 409 acres — 239 acres along Lake Michigan, 55 acres in the industrial park, 104 acres west of the industrial park and 11 acres of other properties — most zoned for agricultural
uses, according to the city’s draft TIF plan.

    The current value of the district is $8.3 million, the plan states, including $1.9 million in land.

    But at the end of 20 years — the maximum life of the TIF district — the value of the district is estimated to be $71.4 million, the plan states.

    The increased value of the land over that time is expected to generate more than $16 million in property taxes, according to the plan.

     “Based on conservative estimates of the value and timing of proposed development ... (the TIF district) will generate more than enough revenue to pay for the project costs within the allowable time limit,” the
plan states. “Therefore, the proposed district is economically feasible.”

    The Cedar Vineyard development — the first phase of development in the district — would encompass 58 acres of residential lots, 68 acres for the vineyard and winery and 101 acres for a nature preserve.

    The public improvements needed for this development include sanitary sewer collection and water mains, road improvements, storm sewers, the city’s share of the cost to acquire a nature park in the subdivision
and the construction of trails in the park, according to the plan.

    The first phase of the plan would also include the development of six undeveloped or underdeveloped parcels in the industrial park, the plan states.

    The city intends to buy the Ozaukee Sports Center property and use two acres of the land for stormwater management and a road right of way, the plan states.

    About 4.8 acres would be sold to Construction Forms to expand its facility, and the Sports Center building and one acre of the property would be sold for another use, according to the plan.

    This portion of the plan is expected to increase the property value by $60.5 million, the plan states.

    The second phase would encompass almost 105 acres in the industrial park, roughly half of which would be used for light industrial development, the plan states. The remainder of the land would be road right of way, wetlands and other undevelopable property.

    This development would increase the district value by $1.7 million and result in $9.3 million in building improvements, according to the plan.

    The cost of infrastructure to serve the Cedar Vineyard development is estimated at $6 million, while the work needed for the industrial park lands would cost $950,000.

    Another $100,000 is budgeted for improvements to support the second phase of the plan, the plan states.

    No cash incentives will be provided to a property owner without a signed development agreement, according to the plan. The plan shows an incentive for the industrial park portion of the development.

    The project expenditures would be capped at $7.1 million, the plan states.

    To finance this, the city is expected to issue $8 million in bonds, according to the plan.

    The plan estimates that the Cedar Vineyard development would be completed in seven years — two years longer than a residential market analysis for the subdivision.

    The Ozaukee Sports Center redevelopment is expected to occur in 2017, the plan states, with development in the remainder of the industrial park happening over 10 years. The land west of the industrial park is expected to be developed after that occurs.Daily Press

    The plan states that the district should maintain a positive cash balance throughout its life and the bonds should be paid off by the 20th year.

    If approved, this would be Port Washington’s third TIF district. The first was created in 1991 and paid off in 2007, and the second, which encompasses much of downtown, was created in 2010.



 
State aid cut may throw wrench into PW-S budget PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 19:07

DPI estimate indicates district will receive $787,634 reduction for next school year

    The Port Washington-Saukville School District could receive $787,634 less in general state school aid next school year, according to estimates released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction last week.

    A surprise to school officials who had conservatively estimated that aid would  remain flat, a 5.8% decrease in state funding promises to throw a wrench into a proposed budget that already calls for $350,000 in spending cuts and a triple-digit increase in school tax bills to begin paying for $49.4 million in school improvements approved by voters in April.

    “We’re being very cautious in reacting to this,” Supt. Michael Weber said. “We don’t want to overreact. We want to study this thoroughly first.”

    The Port-Saukville District is in the majority  — 55% — of Wisconsin school systems that are expected to receive less general state aid in the 2015-16 school year, according to the DPI.

    But among Ozaukee County districts, the Port-Saukville School District, which receives the most general state aid in the county, stands to lose the most.

    The Cedar Grove-Belgium and Northern Ozaukee districts are expected to receive more state aid, 2.4% and 10%, respectively, although it’s the Grafton School District that is expected to see the largest increase — 18%, or $960,000.

    Since revenue limits are not changing, the most likely result of the increase in general school aid is a tax decrease, Grafton School Supt. Mel Lightner said.

    “It’s very preliminary, but right now it’s great news for our taxpayers,” he said. “Let’s hope the numbers stay in place this fall.”

    State aid payments will be finalized on Oct. 15.

    The Cedarburg and Mequon-Thiensville school systems are expected to receive less aid, 1.6% and 1.5%, respectively, although those districts receive considerably less aid than the Port-Saukville District, so the impact would not be nearly as a significant.

    The proposed 2015-17 state budget would maintain general state aid at $4.48 billion, although actual aid payments would total only $4.35 billion because of reductions for the Milwaukee voucher program and charter schools, according to the DPI.

    But what’s important for individual districts is how that money is divided among the state’s 424 school districts, which is determined by a complex formula based in part on enrollment, property value and school spending.

    Port Washington-Saukville administrators suspect that in addition to a slight dip in enrollment, the aid decrease is being triggered by an increase in property values. That would give the district a higher property value-per-pupil ratio, thus making it eligible for less state general aid.

    Last year, the district received $13.5 million in general state aid, double the amount received by any other district in the county except Cedarburg, which received $8.5 million. Grafton, which is often considered comparable to the Port-Saukville District, received $5.2 million in aid last year, probably due in large part to its higher property values.

    Grafton School District officials attribute the projected increase in state aid, in part, to the 4-year-old kindergarten program the district started in 2014.

    The program, which enters its second year this fall, is expected to have more than 100 students, bolstering overall enrollment  and skewing the cost-per-pupil state aid calculation in the district’s favor.

    “We knew that having 4-K would have a positive impact on the budget,” Director of Business Services Kristin Sobocinski said.

    “But our enrollment in other areas could go down, too. There are so may other pieces involved in state aid.”

    Ozaukee Press reporter Steve Ostermann contributed to this story.


 
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