Port to invest ARPA money in paramedics, cops

Alderman concerned about covering ongoing EMS costs with relief funds but administrator says city has options
Ozaukee Press staff

The City of Port Washington will use $1.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for a bevy of initiatives aimed at enhancing its public safety services and work with the business community, improving city operations and communications with the public over the next three years.

Mayor Ted Neitzke said his first thought was to use the ARPA funds to help offset the $18.3 million cost of updating the city’s water plant, but he changed his mind after learning it would only cover .6% of the total cost.

“We would not feel a difference in our utility rates,” he said.

The initiatives include using $425,000 over three years for an additional firefighter/paramedic, City Administrator Tony Brown said, bringing the city’s roster of full-time paramedics to four — two funded by Ozaukee County, one through the city’s general fund and one through the ARPA funds.

“The intent is to get our emergency medical services response times to a more reasonable position,” he said.

Ald. Dan Benning questioned that use during the Finance Committee meeting Tuesday, noting the need for paramedics won’t disappear after the funding ends.

“At some point we’re going to have to self-fund this,” he said. “It may be by getting more money from citizens.”

The city has a number of options to do that, Brown said, noting that  talks are continuing about potential consolidation efforts with Grafton and Saukville.

Next year, the council will discuss various organizational ways to do that, he added.

Another $290,000 will be used to hire two new police officers ahead of the retirements of current officers instead of hiring new recruits after the seasoned personnel leave.

This will make for a more seamless transition, Brown said, noting six officers are expected to retire during the next three years.

The city will also spend $15,000 over the three years to enhance the Niederkorn Library’s materials budget, allowing the library to meet minimum services standards for its collection.

Two initiatives would be run with Port Main Street Inc., including a $114,000 public mural program that would see three murals completed in each of the next three years.

A $45,000 facade grant program would also be run with Port Main Street to enhance properties in downtown.

However, Benning said this program should not be limited to the downtown.

“There are businesses feeling left out by Main Street,” he said, especially those on the city’s north side. “This is one thing we may have to expand beyond downtown.”

Another $125,000 in ARPA funds would be used to update the city’s zoning code, and $25,700 to implement electronic poll books for elections. Two new electronic radar speed signs would also be purchased for $7,000.

The city’s financial management software will be replaced at a cost of $110,000, and a study aimed at improving communications with residents will be done for $90,000.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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