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.
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.
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.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 18:56
Questionnaire that shows support for services in one building is discussed as city weighs facility’s future
The vast majority of people responding to a survey intended to gauge the needs of the Port Washington Senior Center said that having one building dedicated to senior services is important — so important that 61% said they would be less likely to participate in programs if they were spread out to other facilities in the area.
Those were among the survey findings discussed Tuesday during a meeting of the Senior Center’s Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Committee.
The results of the survey, conducted by MSA Professional Services, will be used by the city to determine the future of the center. City officials do not plan to renew the lease for the current center at 403 W. Foster St., which runs through December 2016 and could be extended six months beyond that.
Roughly 711 people completed the survey, and the results were predictably skewed toward people 55 and older, said Andrew Bremer, a planner with MSA Professional Services.
In addition to simply answering the survey questions, Bremer noted, respondents provided more than 70 pages of comments about the center, its functions and needs.
The major complaints listed about the current senior center building are the lack of parking and accessibility within the building, Bremer said.
When asked to describe their ideal center, the majority of survey respondents said they wanted to see a community center with intergenerational interaction and activities, he said.
Not only did respondents rate having a central dedicated senior center as important, Bremer said, many rated the services as good or excellent.
More than 57% said they would support an increase in the current membership fees to offset a portion of the cost of operating and renting a senior center, Bremer said.
Currently, the center charges $17 per person or $22 per couple annually for Port residents to join the center. Non-residents pay $37 and $64, respectively.
Most of those responding said they take part in services provided at places outside the senior center, most notably at the YMCA, other senior centers, library and through the parks and recreation program.
Respondents were almost evenly split when asked if they would support increasing property taxes to offset the cost of building a new senior center.
The idea of funding a community center received a little more support.
When asked how much they might be willing to contribute to a fundraiser for a new center, more than half those responding said they would contribute between $1 and $100.
Of the respondents who don’t use the senior center, most said they are not old enough, are working full-time or just don’t have the time, he said. A few, however, said they didn’t know there was a center, Bremer said.
Senior Center director Catherine Kiener said last year, an average of 62 people used the center every day. There were more than 18,000 visits last year, she added.
Those attending the meeting had a variety of suggestions for a new center, including the vacant EVS auto dealership on South Spring Street and the former office buildings at Simplicity Manufacturing on North Spring Street, as well as land on the Harbor Campus site and property owned by the Port Washington-Saukville School District.
Although the city has been looking into the idea of holding senior center activities at a variety of existing buildings, that’s not an option survey respondents or those at the meeting favored.
“I think having a building provides a safe place for older people,” said Edie Webb, a member of the ad hoc committee and the city’s commission on aging.
One woman noted that when activities are held in a number of places, seniors need to travel between them, something that can be costly and difficult for older adults.
“If you’re living on a couple hundred dollars of disposable income a month, that’s hard,” she said.
It would also increase the cost of staffing, said Sue Bruner, a member of the city’s Commission on Aging.
Providing programs at different places also makes it more difficult for people to keep track of activities and makes those services less visible, another woman said.
John Sigwart, a member of the ad hoc committee, said the idea of holding activities at the Feith Family Ozaukee YMCA in Saukville has been discussed, but many people have told them they feel that’s too far away.
Tom Didier, a member of the YMCA Board, said that when the Feith Family center was built, there were plans to expand and create a senior center there.
Didier, a real estate agent, also noted that building a new center on some of the sites suggested is likely cost prohibitive.
“The price on the (EVS) building is well over $1 million,” he said. “To me, that sounds like a crazy idea.”
Sigwart said he prefers a community center to just a senior center, saying it would allow for intergenerational activities that are important to people of all ages.
“That’s a very large project,” Sigwart said. “If we want to do that as a community center, we have to start it.”
The new center should incorporate unique facilities to draw people to it, one man said, citing a Sun City, Ariz., center that has a woodworking shop and model railroad club.
This would work doubly well if the city builds a community center, he said, since the old and young can teach each other.
“What we really need to think about is what our community is going to look like in 20 years,” one woman said. “What are our services going to look like? What are the needs of our seniors going to be?”
MSA will now work to complete its report, which will be reviewed by the committee before being forwarded to the Common Council for consideration.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 01 July 2015 19:39
Only two developers interested in acquiring parking lot owned by city
Only two developers have indicated they want to obtain a Port Washington lakefront parking lot that city officials expected would generate far more interest when they made the controversial decision to sell the land earlier this year.
One of the developers, Chris Long of Madison, unveiled plans in February to create a Paramount blues-themed entertainment complex on the property, which is off Washington Street and adjacent to the north slip.
Long is scheduled to meet with Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, on Thursday, July 2.
The other developer has not yet scheduled a meeting — a mandatory step in acquiring the land — Tetzlaff said Tuesday.
Port Washington officials agreed earlier this year to offer the parking lot to developers, saying they wanted to see a year-round destination created there to draw people to the downtown and lakefront.
It was a controversial decision, with some residents arguing that the city should not sell lakefront land but retain it for public use.
Officials noted that the city owns several miles of public lakefront and said development of this parcel could spur further redevelopment of the downtown.
The city sent out a number of requests for proposals to developers and advertised the property in several publications.
Although officials had hoped the parcel would attract a number of potential developers, it appears that only two may submit proposals.
“Initially there was interest from several potential developers,” Tetzlaff said, but they offered different reasons for not submitting proposals.
Some said they were apprehensive because of the controversy over the potential sale and the media coverage of the issue, he said.
Others noted they had other projects in the works or were too busy, Tetzlaff said, while some said the project was too small for them.
Still others indicated that the positive reaction to Long’s proposal gave him the inside track, Tetzlaff said.
City Administrator Mark Grams said he is a little surprised that so few developers are interested in the property.
“I think in the end the size of the lot is a detriment to anyone,” he said. “At first, I thought we might get more. But the more I thought about it, I thought it might be wishful thinking that we would get a slew of people.”
Mayor Tom Mlada said he, too, was surprised that there weren’t more offers.
“But to me, the important thing shouldn’t be the quantity of the proposals but the quality,” he said. “I’m more interested in having a home-run proposal.”
Developers are to submit their proposals for the parking lot land by Aug. 7. The city’s Community Development Authority will then review the proposals and make a recommendation to the Plan Commission, which would review the plans on Aug. 20.
The Common Council would then be expected to review the plans and select the developer on Sept. 1.
However, aldermen have said that if only one developer submits a proposal, the city will accelerate the process. That could mean making a recommendation to the Common Council in July.
Long, whose plan calls for a Paramount Blues-themed museum, restaurant, performance space and banquet hall to be built on the property, has said he wants want to complete the development in 2017 to celebrate the centennial of the founding of Paramount Records.