Common Council releases budget

Hailee Jensen, Staff Writer

Last Tuesday, the plans for what the City of Whitewater could look like – and the preliminary estimates of spending could from the next few years– were presented at the Common Council Meeting.

Salary increases for City of Whitewater employees, a breakdown of the proposed budget for 2017 and capital improvements intended to fix roads, spruce up the lakefront and added protection for law enforcement and their vehicles were all a part of City of Whitewater Manager Cameron Clapper’s presentation to the Common Council.

The 2017 budget will be revised during the Nov. 1 meeting in order for a public hearing and approval on Nov 15. Common Council meets at 6:30 p.m. every other Tuesday at the Whitewater City Municipal Building at 312 W. Whitewater Street.

Employee Salaries

Cameron Clapper, City of Whitewater manager, consulted with Springsted, Inc., a public sector adviser working on effective strategies and job salary evaluations for employees in the local government sector, in order to plan out a decade’s worth of salary adjustments for City of Whitewater employees.

Under the plan Clapper presented to the Common Council Tuesday night, City employees would receive a 4 percent raise each year – 2 percent for a cost of living adjustment, 2 percent for a raise, regardless of the nature of yearly evaluations.

The idea of a raise without taking evaluations into consideration raised concerns from Ald. Stephanie Goettl (District 5) and Ald. James Langnes, III (District 2).

“Springsted looks at these very objectively with out considering job performance or evaluation of employee performance so these raises are guaranteed regardless of performance during that time,” Goettl said.

Langnes was in favor for evaluations to play a major part in raises versus the proposal Clapper  put forward.

“I really think the performance should be tied into the salary,” Langnes said. “I can’t fathom it not being, so we have to get a step on it.”

Ald. James Allen (At-Large District) said he saw the benefits in increasing City employee wages.

“For me I believe we want to be a good employer,” Allen said. “We want to pay a fair competitive rate … my only concern is how we are doing this with two different steps.”

No further action was taken.

The 2017 budget

In the upcoming year there have been many increases in the budgets for different aspects including the library fund, neighborhood services and water utility.

The largest concern with increases in the budget went to water utility. There will be a 3 percent increase in its standard to maintain and to fund projects in the future to maintain a healthy balance. “Our largest ratepayers also happen to be owners of properties often are properties that are housing students, they will be bearing most of the significant portion of this cost,” Clapper said.

Neighborhood services having a $8,949 increase in the budget, despite seeing a reduction in the operating supplies as well as professional supplies but specifics included.

The fire department came back with a $13,000 negative gap in the council’s budget and their budget which will be looked at further.

Parks and Recreation had a budget difference of an increase of $50,688 from 2016 to 2017. Included in the budget discussion was the possible movement of the ice rink to Starin Park with concessions to prompt an increase in revenue.

The budget also seeing no changes in the Community Development Authority.

2017 Capital Improvement Plan

The City of Whitewater is looking into potential capital improvements to the city during the coming year.

Voting machines from 1990 could be upgraded. The cost is projected to close in on $3,000.

An expansion of Police Garage could be in the works due to concerns of safety with increased negative perceptions of law enforcement and the lack of enclosed space for squad cars. Costs are expected to reach $110,000 to design the add-on structure for the Municipal Building and $940,000 for construction.

Franklin and Ann Streets could be seeing complete construction because of storm water damage. Updates would include a storm discharge pond and complete reconstruction of the road.