Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 20:10
Port council reduces project-related charges for five city landowners, eliminates fees for town properties
Port Washington aldermen on Tuesday reduced the assessments charged to five city property owners and agreed to eliminate the assessments charged to town properties to pay for improvements made to highways 33 and LL.
The agreement settles a lawsuit filed a year ago by 11 property owners who argued that the assessments were unreasonable, saying their properties have not been “specially or reasonably benefitted” by the improvements to the roadways.
City Administrator Mark Grams said Monday that officials have been negotiating the settlement for several months in an attempt to avoid a trial.
Even though the city may recoup less money for the road work, he said, “you would end up spending more in legal fees” in a trial.
Grams said the city is accepting a total of $9,953 less from the city property owners, in part as a recognition that the state paid less of the Highway 33 project than a typical highway project.
While the state paid about 80% of the cost for Highway 33, he said, it paid more than 90% of the cost for Highway 32 when it was rebuilt.
“We decided to take that into account,” Grams said.
The city agreed to change the amount charged for the street work only, Grams said, not the amount charged for sidewalks, curb and gutter.
The assessments for town property were dropped, Grams said, after the city looked at how other communities handle these charges.
“Most other cities don’t put town charges on the final (assessment) resolution,” he said, while Port has traditionally assessed these properties but not collected the funds until the parcels were annexed.
City officials agreed to eliminate the assessments, Grams said, but he noted that “That’s not to say the city won’t get the money eventually.”
When these property owners seek annexation, officials will seek to collect the assessment amounts, Grams said.
“Then it’s more of a negotiation when the property owner wants to annex into the city,” he said. “You end up negotiating with them when they annex anyway.”
It’s not likely officials will forgive the assessment when the properties come into the city, Grams said.
“I guarantee that won’t happen,” he said, although negotiations then could reduce or increase the amount.
The town properties removed in the settlement are Christopher and Linda Witzlib, 1651 Willow Dr., whose assessment was $40,282; Stevlins LLC, 2440 Hwy. 33, $13,932; Raymond Last, 2364 Hwy. 33, $11,298; and Steven and Julie Boyea, 2498 Hwy. 33, $4,482.
The assessments that were reduced include Bielinski Commercial LLC of Pewaukee, whose previous assessment of $17,368 was reduced by $4,042 to $13,326; Bielinski Homes Inc. of Pewaukee, whose previous assessment of $10,544 was reduced by $2,434 to $8,111; Made Investments LLC of Port Washington, whose previous assessment of $7,532 was reduced by $1,739 to $5,794; Nicholas S. Meier, 402 N. Heritage Rd., whose previous assessment of $4,921 was reduced by $869 to $4,052; and Schmidt Farm Property LLC of Cedarburg, whose previous assessment of $4,921 was trimmed by $869 to $4,052.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 21:14
An agreement to have Ozaukee County purchase a new voting maching for the Town of Port Washington was approved by the town board last week.
“They’re going to buy the equipment so every community in the county is going to be using the same equipment,” Town Clerk Jenny Schlenvogt told the board. “I think it’s more than fair. It makes their job easier, and ours, too.”
The county will study the various machines that are available and purchase the one that works best and is the best buy, she added.
County Clerk Julie Winkelhorst said the county is poised to purchase new voting machines to replace those currently used by the municipalities at an estimated cost of $550,000.
The County Board agreed to buy the machines in September, and the Finance Committee recently reviewed an intergovernmental agreement spelling out the responsibility of both the county and its municipalities in regard to the purchase.
“We want all the municipalities to be on the same equipment,” Winkelhorst said. “We don’t want to have issues like some other counties have had.”
The new voting machines will replace those purchased by the county in 1998.
The existing machines are still reliable, but the technology, which is from 1991, is outdated, Winkelhorst said.
The optical scan equipment hasn’t been made since 2006, according to the resolution authorizing the purchase of the equipment approved by the County Board in September.
“They’re very trustworthy,” Winkelhorst said. “We just want to take care of things before there are problems.”
Port Washington City Clerk Susan Westerbeke agreed that the time to replace the machines is now.
“The machines are really tired,” Westerbeke said. “A number of us have had to have them repaired. This has been a very good quality machine, but you don’t want to wait until there are major issues before you replace them.”
The county hopes to jointly purchase the equipment with other counties in the state, which could potentially bring down the price, Winkelhorst said.
The county would buy 32 machines, enough to replace all of those used by municipalities during the April 2014 election, according to the memorandum of understanding. The municipalities, in turn, agree to use the machines through 2020. Otherwise, they will have to repay the county for the machines.
Any additional machines would be the responsibility of the municipality.
According to the agreement, the county would buy three machines for the City of Port Washington, one for each of the city’s polling places, and one for the Town of Port.
The Village of Grafton would also get three machines, while the town would get one. The villages and towns of Saukville, Belgium and Fredonia would each get one machine.
While the county would be responsible for buying the new machines, the municipalities would be responsible for training its election workers, the agreement states.
Although the county is expected to buy the machines next year, Winkelhorst said, they will probably not be used until the spring 2016 election — in part because there isn’t a fall 2015 election scheduled.
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 20:02
Both suspects face felony charges for fights that injured police officers
A 50-year-old Port Washington man was arrested Sunday after crushing a cigarette on a police officer’s face and spitting in his eyes, then injuring another officer in the brawl that ensued, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court Monday.
Lawrence Shelton was eventually subdued after officers stunned him several times with Tasers.
Shelton, who was free on bail in connection with a disorderly conduct domestic abuse case, was charged this week with battery to a peace officer and two counts of discharging bodily fluids at an officer, felonies punishable by a total of six years in prison and seven years of extended supervision.
He is also charged with misdemeanor counts of bail jumping, disorderly conduct-domestic abuse and resisting an officer.
According to the criminal complaint, at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30, officers were called to Shelton’s home, where his wife told them he had been drinking and was now destroying things in their house.
Shelton had been ordered by a judge not to drink alcohol or have contact with his wife while awaiting trial on the disorderly conduct charge, so officers Chris Erickson and James Russell told him he was under arrest for violating those orders.
Shelton became angry, and when ordered by Russell to drop the cigarette he was smoking and turn around so he could be handcuffed, he refused. When Russell repeated the orders and put his hand on the lapel of Shelton’s jacket, Shelton pulled away, said “Don’t grab me you (expletive),” spit twice in Russell’s face and crushed his cigarette on the officer’s cheek, the complaint states.
What police described as a violent wrestling match ensued.
Erickson tried to stun Shelton with a Taser, but because Shelton was wearing several large winter coats, the Taser was ineffective.
Shelton became more enraged and spit into Erickson’s eyes, according to the complaint. Erickson then fired a Taser and hit Shelton in the thigh. Eventually, police were able to handcuff him.
Erickson suffered neck and shoulder pain and was taken to Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.
Shelton is being held in jail on $10,000 bail.
Shelton’s wife also called police to her home in July because, she reported, her husband was attacking her and would not leave, according to the complaint filed in that case.
The woman said she allowed Shelton, who had been living in Kentucky, to move back into her house because she felt sorry for him, but on July 28, he had been drinking and was out of control, the complaint states.
She said she was on her way to the gym when Shelton grabbed a bag from her and began searching it for evidence of an affair he thought she was having, according to the complaint.
The woman said Shelton called her vulgar names and smashed a mirror that was in her bag.
Shelton was charged as a repeat offender in that case because in July 2011 he pleaded guilty to felony intimidation of a witness. Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams withheld a prison sentence, placed him on probation for three years and ordered him to serve six months in jail as a condition of probation, according to court records.
Shelton is the second person to be charged in the course of a week with beating Port Washington police officers.
On Wednesday, Nov. 26, Mark T. Jancoski, 51, of Port Washington, was charged with three felonies — strangulation and two counts of battery to a police officer — and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct after a Nov. 1 fight with police.
According to the criminal complaint, a man told police that Jancoski came to his house earlier that day, was angry, told him he had a knife and would “gut him like a pig.”
Officers went to Jancoski’s home and, because of the threats he made earlier that day and his “deteriorating mental state,” forced their way into his apartment, the complaint states.
Officer Jason Bergin saw a knife on the table next to Jancoski and attempted to grab it, but Jancoski beat him to it and, with the knife in his hand, stood up, according to the complaint.
Officer Eric Leet shot a Taser at Jancoski, but it was ineffective. Jancoski charged Leet and threatened to kill him before grabbing him by the hair with one hand and his neck with the other, according to the complaint. Officers eventually were able to subdue arrest Jancoski.
Leet suffered a bruised larynx, the complaint states.
Jancoski is being held in the county jail on $3,000 bail.
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 15:29
Officials hope $11 million reduction will be enough to win voter support in April
Architects who proposed a $61 million renovation of Port Washington High School now say they can cut that cost to $50 million while retaining key elements of the initial design in an attempt to win public support for an April referendum, Supt. Michael Weber told the Port Washington-Saukville School Board Building and Grounds Committee Monday.
Bray Architects initially proposed demolishing about 70% of the high school and rebuilding it to create a modern school with a stunning entryway as well as new gyms, a cafeteria and classrooms.
To pare the price, Weber said, some parts of the school initially slated for demolition would be retained but gutted. Design elements like the entryway and new facilities built on the hillsides on the south and west sides of the school would remain part of the proposal.
A work group comprised of administrators and school board members has expressed support for the revised Bray plan, Weber said.
“The work group is pleased with the proposal Bray is recommending,” he said.
Efforts to revise a sweeping proposal to renovate the high school and build additions onto the district’s three elementary schools was prompted by a survey last month that showed while a majority of district residents support school renovations, they are not willing to spend $61 million on the high school and $25 million on the elementary schools.
Survey responses also showed that residents would not support doing both the high school and elementary school renovations at the same time, an approach that would cost taxpayers an estimated $86 million. When asked to choose, most survey respondents indicated the high school should be the priority.
“It was fairly obvious from the survey that we need to take a look at another proposal to reduce the tax levy impact while still keeping the highest priority needs in the project,” Weber said.
What the survey did not tell school officials is how much taxpayers are willing to spend on the schools. It appears Bray and school officials are betting that amount will be around $50 million for the high school.
The fate of the elementary schools, however, remains uncertain.
Abnormally large and often unpredictable enrollments in particular grades, referred to as bubble classes, and additional requirements for programs like special education have created space issues at Lincoln and Dunwiddie elementary schools, administrators have said.
At Saukville Elementary School, the only open concept school in the district, security is the concern.
Bray Architects had proposed building regulation gyms and community rooms at Lincoln and Saukville Elementary schools. That would free existing space for additional classrooms and address the need for school facilities that can also be used by the public.
At Dunwiddie Elementary School, Bray proposed building an addition onto the front of the school that would provide a new secure entryway, additional classrooms and a community room. A new parking lot was also part of the proposal.
At a meeting earlier this month, Weber told the school board he believes the cost of renovating the elementary schools could be reduced from $25 million to between $10 million and $12 million by eliminating the gym addition at Saukville Elementary School, building a smaller addition onto the back of Dunwiddie Elementary School and foregoing the new parking lot.
At Saukville, Weber said, the renovations would focus on security by providing a new public entrance to the gym and partitions within the school building.
At Lincoln Elementary School, a new regulation gym would remain part of the plan because it would serve two purposes — provide a large gym that could also be used by nearby Thomas Jefferson Middle School, which needs additional indoor recreation space but cannot be easily renovated to provide it, and free existing space at Lincoln for additional classrooms.
The question administrators and board members continue to wrestle with is whether to draft a referendum that seeks funding for all school buildings at the same time or take a phased approach that would anticipate a series of referendums over a number of years.
What’s clear, Weber said, is Bray Architects does not believe the high school project can be divided into phases.
“They looked at a phased-in approach at the high school, but the problem is what happens if one phase of the project passes (in a referendum) but the other phases don’t?” Weber said.
The elementary school projects may be better suited to a phased approach, but Weber said that regardless of a referendum, the district intends to use money from its fund balance to make security improvements at Saukville Elementary School and create a new, secure entrance at Dunwiddie Elementary School.
“The new entrance at Lincoln cost a little more than $100,000,” Jim Froemming, director of business services, said. “In the grand scheme of fund balance, $100,000 is not that big of a deal.”
Bray Architects is scheduled next month to present a revised plan to the board, which intends to approve referendum questions in January.
“My goal is to have the high school look like a new school when we’re finished with it,” school board member Brian McCutcheon, chairman of the building and grounds committee, said. “I hope we can also handle some of our important needs at the elementary schools.
“I hope we can get it all done.”