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Festive family fun to highlight Halloween in Port Saturday PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 19:10

Halloween will be celebrated in Port Washington Saturday with the city’s annual autumn festival, Harvest at the Market, and trick or treating throughout the community.

Harvest at the Market will also help commemorate the city’s final outdoor farmers market of the year, held on East Main Street from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., youngsters are invited to trick or treat at downtown businesses that display a sign with three carved pumpkins and the Port Main Street Inc. logo.

Children are encouraged to wear their costumes for the event, said Cathy Wilger, co-executive director of Port Main Street, which sponsors the event.

This year, more than 30 businesses will participate in the trick-or-treat hours, she said.

In addition, there will be free pumpkin carving, apple bobbing and pumpkin bowling in the alley adjacent to Vines to Cellar on Main Street, Wilger said. Members of Port High’s United for Youth group will help with the activities.

A full slate of vendors and music will help make the farmers market a festive place, Wilger added.

Halloween will continue Saturday afternoon and evening, when the city holds trick or treating from 4 to 8 p.m. 

Residents offering treats to youngsters are encouraged to turn on their front porch lights.Daily Press

 
County fine-tunes 2017 budget plan PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Mitch Maersch   
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 19:07

Selecting health insurance provider among final decisions in spending package that will be presented to public Oct. 31

Ozaukee County hasn’t selected a health insurance provider yet, but built in a zero cost increase as the 2017 budget goes through the approval process.

The public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, in the Administration Center, 121 W. Main St., Port Washington.

The county is negotiating with two health insurance providers, including its current provider, Group Health Trust, Human Resources and Technology Resources Director Jason Dzwinel said.

Among the budget adjustments the Executive Committee recommended is spending $300,000 on the first of two phases to upgrade the county jail’s door security software system, something Sheriff Jim Johnson said was a need. The system operating the dispatch, jail, court security, holding areas and panic alarms is out of date as it uses the Windows XP operating system.

Of the $300,000, $200,000 would come from the tax levy and $100,000 from the county’s jail assessment fund, a statutory account funded through portions of fines and forfeitures, Dzwinel said.

An apartment remodeling project at Lasata Heights, the senior care facility’s apartments in Cedarburg, is slated to be put on hold. The four-phase project started in 2014 remodels 15 apartments every two years through 2020. Now half complete, the Executive Committee is recommending stopping work for two years to build up cash reserves.

Occupancy was down due to the construction project, with six less apartments filled than normal, leading to a loss of $112,000 in revenue. The committee wants to fill the apartments again before deciding how to proceed with the project, Dzwinel said.

 The total tax levy is slated to increase by $315,000 from $20.275 million in 2016 to $20.591 million next year. 

The county’s tax rate is expected to decrease by 4 cents to $1.80 per $1,000 of equalized value for communities with libraries. Non-library communities are expected to pay a tax rate of $2.10 per $1,000.

That would mean the owner of a  $250,000 home in a library community would pay $450 in county taxes and the same homeowner in a non-library community would pay $520.

“We want to keep the taxes at no increase or a decrease,” County Board Chairman Lee Schlenvogt said.

Also included in the budget is $100,000 for bringing back the Ozaukee Clean Sweep program, which assumes receiving a $15,000 state grant.

The county, which discontinued the program more than a decade ago because of cost, is among only 18 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties that don’t have a Clean Sweep program.

Dzwinel said the committee thought it was important to again provide residents with a way to dispose of hazardous household and agricultural waste.

The budget also calls for spending $75,000 on a two-year project to construct a storage building across from Pioneer Village in the Town of Saukville for the Planning and Parks Department. The project’s total cost is $125,000. The other $50,000 is expected to be part of the 2018 budget, Dzwinel said.

The proposed budget calls for putting $112,000 in the capital reserve fund that could be used in case of a shortfall in capital projects in 2017.

The County Board is likely to act on the budget at its Nov. 2 meeting.Daily Press

 
Lakefront development projects to get another look PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 19:04

Study showing math doesn’t work for TIF district prompts prospective buyers of city-owned parking lot to tweak plans

Port Washington officials are expected to revisit development proposals for a city-owned car-trailer parking lot near the lakefront in the next month or so, City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday.

Representatives of Ansay Development are refining their proposal after an analysis of the project revealed the plan doesn’t make financial sense for the city with the incentives being sought by the developer, Grams said.

Ansay Development, as well as businessmen Charlie Puckett and John Weinrich, have proposed developing not only the city-owned lot but also properties on several other lakefront parcels, creating 20 rowhouses on the city lot, a 44-unit apartment building on the block north of that and the creation of an entertainment complex at the current NewPort Shores restaurant building.

In addition, they would like to acquire the north marina slip parking lot currently slated for the Blues Factory entertainment venue and create a privately owned park with a small retail building there.

The businessmen have said they would seek $4.7 million in incentives from the city for their project, Grams said, but the city’s analysis shows that there would be a $1.8 million deficit when the TIF district closes in 2038.

The project only pays for itself if the businessmen seek $1 million less in incentives, Grams said.

In contrast, architect Stephen Smith’s proposal to create 11 townhouses on the car-trailer lot alone results in only about a $240,000 shortfall when the TIF district closes, Grams said.

Smith is not seeking any city incentives for his project.

However, Grams said, the analysis took into account city infrastructure work needed to be done for both projects. This includes moving a sewer main on the boat-trailer lot at an expected cost of $450,0000, making changes to the marina parking lot at a cost of $650,000 and rebuilding Harborview Lane for $60,000.

Grams said the analysis of Smith’s proposal also includes the proposed Blues Factory, which would be built on a city-owned lot across the street.Daily Press

 
Forecast for city budget: 3% hike in spending PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 19:00

Increases in staff wages, personnel changes help drive projected 2017 expenditures 

Port Washington’s proposed $9.3 million budget for 2017 reflects an increase of about 3% from this year, City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday.

The general fund budget is increasing for two major reasons, Grams said.

Wages are expected to increase 2% next year and fringe benefits will be increasing as well, he said. He said he’s still working on the final health insurance figures, but the city hopes to keep the increase in premiums below 10%.

Several personnel decisions are also impacting the budget, Grams said. The city is replacing Dave Ewig, who is retiring as the city’s street commissioner and water superintendent, with two people. 

The full impact of the city’s decision to hire another police officer will also be on the 2017 budget, Grams noted. That officer began work in July, so this year’s budget only reflects six months of his salary.

The budget includes funds for a firehouse expansion study as well as a senior center study. Money has also been included in the budget to help maintain Union Cemetery on the city’s southwest side and to make further improvements to the breakwater.

The budget does not include funds to complete a railing along Coal Dock Park’s promenade. Money to pay for a rail on the western half of the walkway will be carried over from this year’s budget, and that work is expected to be done in spring. 

While the general fund budget is increasing 3%, the corresponding levy is expected to increase about 9.78%, Grams said, due in large part to a loss of about $25,000 in state aid and highway aid.

The city’s debt service levy will increase about 3.2% this year, reflecting a significant borrowing the city did this year. 

The overall levy will increase about 6.2%, Grams said, to $5.3 million.

However, because the city’s tax base is increasing, the tax rate isn’t expected to increase by that same amount, he said.

Grams said he is still waiting to receive the city’s assessed value from the state in order to determine what the tax rate will be.

The Common Council is expected to review the proposed budget when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1.

A public hearing on the budget will be held during the council’s 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 meeting. Following the hearing, aldermen are expected to take action on the spending plan.Daily Press

 
Weekend tourist promos have Port bustling PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 18:20

Free admission to Exploreum and Light Station boosts attendance by hundreds; crowds also up for tall ship Sullivan

It would be an understatement to say downtown Port Washington wasn’t busy on Saturday.

Approximately 570 people flocked to the Port Exploreum and 480 to the Light Station, where the admission fee was waived courtesy of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Wayne Chrusciel, executive director of the Port Historical Society, said.

The Exploreum had to turn people away at the end of the day, while the Light Station stayed open an hour longer than expected to accomodate the people lined up to climb to the top of the tower, he said.

“They consistently had a line of 50 to 60 people waiting to get in to the tower,” Chrusciel said. 

And the tall ship Denis Sullivan, which offered “Haunted Sullivan” deck tours throughout the weekend, attracted about 500 people Saturday and Sunday, Maureen McCourt Boylan, Port’s marketing and communication coordinator, said Tuesday.

“It was phenomenal,” Chrusciel said. “Absolutely amazing.”

Part of the draw came from the fact that the Greater Milwaukee Foundation offered free admission to five lakefront attractions, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and Discovery World, all in Milwaukee, as part of its Gifts to the Community program.

While some of those visiting the Exploreum and Light Station also went to the Milwaukee attractions, others said they chose to come to Port because they realized how busy the other facilities would be.

Those visiting Port came from as far away as Utah, Kansas and Missouri — “They were in the area and heard about the event,” Chrusciel said — but many were from throughout southeastern Wisconsin. 

There were a lot of people from Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Waukesha and Washington County, he said, as well as a good number from western Wisconsin.

It’s not unusual to have a fair number of visitors from the west side of the state, Chrusciel noted, saying they are often people on day trips.

Chrusciel said he was especially heartened by the number of locals who visited.

“I heard a lot of people say, ‘I walk past here all the time but I never came in before,’” he said. 

The response from visitors was virtually unanimous, he added.

“What we heard often was, ‘I didn’t expect to see this in Port’ and ‘I didn’t realize you had this,’” Chrusciel said. “People were impressed by what we have to offer.”

And that, he said, was the goal.

“We wanted to raise awareness of both facilities and get people to come back and bring others with them,” Chrusciel said.

Visitors were also thrilled to see so much happening in Port, he said, noting that in addition to the Sullivan, the farmers market and beer garden also drew the crowd.

“We heard people saying, ‘I can’t believe how much is going on in Port,’” Chrusciel said. “They told us, ‘I can’t believe how Port’s changed.’”

And that, he said, was one of the biggest benefits of the day — to show people not just what the Exploreum and Light Station, both operated by the Historical Society, have to offer, but what the city has as well.

“It was a chance to showcase what we have,” Chrusciel said. “I think we did that. It was a great event.”

 

https://youtu.be/nzor5sszI7cDaily Press

 
Spending plans for 2017 budget fine-tuned by city committee PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 18:02

Feasibility studies for new fire station, senior center among options under consideration

Port Washington’s proposed 2017 budget was tweaked by the city’s Finance and License Committee in a daylong meeting Tuesday, and the spending plan contains funds for at least some of the initiatives officials have been looking at for some time.

However, some of that funding is tentative, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

For example, the proposed budget includes $15,000 in the contingency fund that could be used to finance a study of a new, west-side fire station. 

But, Grams said, that money could also be used to fund other capital items that weren’t included in the budget.

“There is no final decision about the funds, but there is money in contingency that could be used for the study,” he said.
The decision on how those funds will be used will likely come as the city concludes its budget process, Grams said.

Fire Chief Mark Mitchell has been seeking funding for the study since 2014, noting that the current fire station is too small for the department’s need and too far away from the city’s population center.

Also likely to be the topic of further discussion is the railing along the Coal Dock Park promenade.

The city had budgeted $90,000 for a railing that will run about halfway along the promenade this year, and officials had applied for a grant that would have funded much of the remainder of the railing.

But officials recently learned that the city did not receive the grant, and Grams said the Finance and License Committee decided not to include any additional funding for the railing in the budget.

Funding for the western half of the railing will be carried over into the 2017 budget, Grams said. 

However, he said, the decision not to fund the rest of the railing will likely be debated by the Common Council before the budget process is concluded.

The Coal Dock Park Committee was expected to discuss the situation when it met Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven noted that work on the western portion of the railing wasn’t done this year because officials had hoped to get the grant and realize some economies of scale by installing all the railing at one time.

He said he expects to seek bids for the project this fall with installation of the railing project occurring in spring. 

The railing, Vanden Noven said, will likely be placed about four feet off the edge of the promenade, which will accommodate the moorings and marina pedestals that are currently located along the edge.

Gates will be placed along the railing, and Vanden Noven said he expects they will be unlocked much of the time, allowing fishermen and others access to the edge of the walkway.

Also included in the budget are funds for a feasibility study for a new senior center.

The budget includes $15,000 for the city’s share of a study that will look at the feasibility of converting the Aurora Medical Clinic at 1777 W. Grand Ave. into a senior center, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

The city received a $20,000 matching community development block grant for the study earlier this year, and is expected to contribute $5,000 of in-kind work toward it, Grams said.

The city is working on a request for proposals intended to find a firm to conduct the study, he added.

Seniors have long expressed frustration with the current senior center building, and the city’s lease on the former church runs out at the end of this year. Officials have said they will seek a six-month extension on the lease, and these funds are in the budget, Grams said.

The budget doesn’t include any money to extend the lease further, although Grams said officials will likely continue the lease past mid-year.

The proposed budget also includes funding for the first stage of improvements to the entry to the breakwater, but none for the second phase of that work or work on the east end of the breakwater itself, Grams said.

“We don’t know yet what sort of grant money we might get, so it’s hard to budget anything for that,” he said.

Grams said the 2017 budget was extremely tight, especially since aldermen did not want to dip into surplus funds to meet the levy limit.

They’ve done that for the last several years, he said, and now want to rebuild the fund.

Grams said he expects to finalize the budget figures by next week. The proposed 2017 budget will be presented to the Common Council on Nov. 1, with a public hearing and action on the spending plan set for Nov. 15.Daily Press

 
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