Council discusses new referendums, reviews ordinances


Gracia Boley

The Whitewater Common Council members at the public meeting on October 4, 2022

Gracia Boley, Journalist

Whitewater’s Common Council met together for a public meeting to discuss and listen to presentations such as the Whitewater Unified School District’s request for an approved referendum, an update on the city manager recruitment, 

The meeting started with a city manager update given by interim City Manager, John Weidl. It consisted of updates such as the Whitewater police department accepting applications for full-time dispatcher for more information about details and requirements, here. Other updates such as Walworth County hazardous waste clean sweep and electronic recycling event, with information here. Along with the upcoming Nov. 8, 2022, EMS staffing referendum, with information here. And an update about the Cravath lake drawdown with an update meeting being held on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, at the City Hall from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. with presentations by Heidi Bunk from. The. WDNR and city staff. 

WUSD Superintendent, Caroline Pate-Hefty along with Ben Prather and Larry Kachel speaking to the common council about the new appeal for new referendum, which is being placed on the November 8 ballot
(Gracia Boley)

Next the council listened to a presentation given by the Whitewater Unified School District regarding the school district referendum. The 2018 referendum will soon expire (since it is a 4-year referendum) and for the district to still have access to these funds, they need to return to voters for a replacement referendum which is on the ballot this upcoming Nov. 8. The referendum focuses on increasing expenses to students’ needs in areas such as special education and mental health. The WUSD receives inadequate funding for these state and federally mandated programs. Also looking at costs for running our buses and heating the school are showing an increase which are among the expenses that are out of the district’s control. The WUSD has noticed an increase in mental health in their students (following COVID) such as depression and anxiety and have made creative ways to attend to the student’s needs, such as “Project Winston” which is the therapy dog that will be reporting in January to Washington elementary to help students as well as another therapy dog at the high school. An approved referendum would protect robust academic and athletic opportunities, student support and mental health services, comprehensive instructional and co-curricular programs, and technology and facilities. To learn more about the referendum proposal, click here.

“Referendums touch the students that we serve because they continue to allow us to provide services at the same level that we are providing right now,” said Caroline Pate-Hefty, Whitewater Unified School District superintendent.

The council also spent a heavy amount of time discussing the ordinance on operating golf carts on public roads. The council had previously amended it to include registration, which is good for three years and serves as an ability to collect information and serve as an identifier placed on the golf cart.The ordinance started at Prairie Ridge and then brought attention to Fairhaven. Council member, Jill Gerber, shared her concerns about the current agreement suggesting that there should be an annual permit with a cost of $25 (instead of the $0 currently), also with some confusion as to approving the golf carts but not low-speed vehicles as well alluding to the concern of the police department having to decipher between a golf cart and a golf cart that is a low-speed vehicle. There was a concern about the sidewalk and what that agreement might entail. And got some knowledge/opinion from chief of police, Dan Meyer, regarding the usage of golf carts on sidewalks. The council decided that the ordinance should be further examined so that it is more well-defined, so council member, Jill Gerber, made a motion to postpone the ordinance making it a first reading instead of a second reading so that it could be brought back to a subsequent meeting.

The council then reviewed a brief overview and presentation of the draft 2023 budget and 2023 alternate budget. There were two budget presentations presented given the fire and EMS department and the referendum: 1. should the referendum pass and 2. should the referendum fail. For questions, contact Steve Hatton, finance and administrative services director or John Weidl, Interim city manager

“As a final message, we are investing in our future,” said  John Weidl

To watch the recording of the full meeting, click here. Whitewater’s Common Council can be contacted by email [email protected].