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No Sewer, Road Projects Planned in 2012 Budget

Proposed village budget does not include any borrowed funds for capital improvement projects next year.

Village officials do not have plans to borrow money for big road, sewer or other infrastructure projects in this year's budget.

At a Village Board budget meeting Monday night, village staff recommended not pursuing any major infrastructure projects, instead focusing on daily operations in the village, implementing a new GIS system, setting up a storm water utility and managing the consultants hired to analyze and plan major upcoming sanitary and storm water sewer projects.

Trustee Kevin Buckley said the lack of sewer projects planned next year might not be palatable to flood-prone homeowners eager to see shovels in the ground.

"The concept that the village is going to be doing more administrative things this year … and not be digging underground is going to come as a very big surprise to the village after flooding has occurred," Buckley said.

Each budget year, the village borrows money for capital improvement projects tagged at more than $50,000 and having a life span of more than 5 years.

In the 2011 budget, the Village Board budgeted $2.8 million in borrowed funds, with $2.6 million of that projected to be spent.

The proposed 2012 budget does not include any borrowed money, while using $775,000 of reserve funds, including $589,000 for a and $150,000 for an .

Village officials had originally scheduled about $4 million in capital improvement projects for 2012 as part of a five-year capital improvement plan distributed to trustees during last year's budget process. Some of the suggested 2012 borrowing listed in the five-year plan presented last year included $2 million for sanitary sewer, storm water and road construction on three blocks of Woodburn Street, $395,000 in storm water and road construction in the 4700 block of Newhall Street, $660,000 n the 5500 block of Diversey Boulevard and $225,000 for water tower maintenance.

Village Engineer Dan Naze said those infrastructure needs are still there, but they could conflict with the that consultants Donohue and Associates are expected to present at a Nov. 7 meeting.

"As of today, we need to be cautious as to what we jump ahead and start doing," Naze said. "We need to start looking at not only what was proposed a year to a year and a half ago, but also how that's going to change for the next five or 15 years."

Village President Julie Siegel said she supported the staff proposal.

"I don't have a problem explaining to residents that we are being very thoughtful here and that we want to get this right and not spend money unnecessarily," Siegel said.

Village Manager Patrick DeGrave said the money could be borrowed later on as needed. Recently, the village submitted a $4 million grant application for a $5 million storm water retention pond in , and he said the extra $1 million could be borrowed when the village finds out whether the grant was approved.

"We can massage that first debt to come due in 2013 so we are not impacting a budget that's already set," DeGrave said.

DeGrave added it is better not to borrow money that won't be used because the village is under statutory requirements as to how long it can hold on to borrowed money. Additionally, the village has some money in reserve for smaller projects.

"If we do anything in 2012, we can have a more targeted approach based on what we hear from Donohue instead of sitting here tonight wondering where we should put our first dollar," he said.

Capital equipment expenditures are already up $122,280 compared to the 2011 budget. Those expenses do not include $250,000 to replace the roof on and the former Department of Public Works building that is rented by , both of which could be funded with capital reserves.

Trustees have made their way through the bulk of the budget process, and any remaining budget issues will be discussed at the Nov. 7  Village Board meeting. The proposed tax levy of $10.72 million is a over last year's levy.

Proposed expenditures are increasing by 0.71 percent, which has been offset by a $350,000 drop in revenue, including a $58,692 cut in state shared revenue, a $70,361 cut in state transportation aid and a $26,100 cut in state recycling grants. At the same time, the village is contractually obligated to existing pension costs and 1.5 percent wage increases for police officers and DPW employees. DPW union contracts expire in 2013, and police officers are not subject to Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill.

While new state statutes prohibit the village from levying more than the amount of new construction last year — in the village, it was 0.37 percent – the village is able to levy more than usual this year because it reported more debt service than was required on last year's levy worksheet. By amending last year's levy worksheet, the village is now able to levy its proposed amount of $10.72 million.

Bob McBride October 25, 2011 at 03:08 PM
As someone who lives in one of the flood prone areas, I'm not at all surprised by this. Naturally, it's not palatable, but frankly I've pretty much given up on this Village. I've got one house that I absolutely have to sell in 2012 that I can't imagine won't be affected negatively by this news. I've got another, the one I live in, in one of the worst areas for flooding, that I have no hopes of selling anytime in the near future. If we experience anything remotely close to what we experienced in '10, I'll be more than happy to personally invite Julie Siegel over to show her what it's like and listen to her explanation about how thoughtful they're being in light of the items they have elected to spend money on. I'm sure that GIS system just couldn't wait. I don't disagree with the contention that it's important to see what Donahue comes up with, but since the final report is due Nov 7, two weeks away, I would think that that portion of the budget could have been postponed to see what, if any, projects could have been started in 2012 (particularly since Nov 7 has been reserved for wrapping up remaining budget issues). Or that, being as close as they are to presenting the final report, they couldn't have consulted with the decision makers prior to this particular decision.
Leslie Sarver October 25, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Village President Siegel was less than concerned or supportive of village residents during the flooding last summer. Her demeanor and behavior at the Village Board meetings I attended was shameful. Why would anyone be surprised that the Board, under her leadership, make this a higher priority than the GIS system?
StaynConnected October 26, 2011 at 01:05 AM
And all this while, Village officials have been assuring the public that the study would be done in time to allow the Village to continue with remedies to reduce the potential for basement flooding and that the resources would be found. What happened? Is this turn-around due to the change in Village leadership? What about all of the promises made to Village residents, many of which suffered repeated basement back-ups?
Bob McBride October 26, 2011 at 03:10 AM
I think the priorities of our current Village leadership are pretty well documented in this article: http://whitefishbay.patch.com/articles/whitefish-bay-celebrates-66th-anniversary-of-the-united-nations
Gordon E Lang October 26, 2011 at 03:56 AM
Former WFB Trustee Thomas Fehring, an engineer, became a Trustee because that he believed WFB was not keeping up with its infrastructure. It is unfortunate that he did not run for another term as I'm sure he would have echoed Kevin Buckley's concerns. Below is what Tom said at the end of his term last April. This is from Tom's final report on the achievement of goals he established when he f ran for Village Trustee. 1. We need to properly maintain the Village Infrastructure As noted when I first ran for office, the Village had fallen behind in maintaining the Village's infrastructure. I discovered that while the Village had established a five-year capital improvement plan in 2004, it made very little progress in meeting that plan. While funds had been budgeted and borrowed to meet this five year plan, well less than 50 percent of the work was accomplished during the period. Beginning in 2009, we established an aggressive schedule to catch up on needed road work, sanitary and storm sewer upgrades, and to address other Village infrastructure requirements. Work included the 'streetscape' improvements to Silver Spring Drive, along with the rebuilding of other streets and extensive sanitary and storm sewer work. During the last 3 years we have replaced 25 percent of the Village's sanitary sewer system, with more planned for 2011. The Village also implemented 'mill and overlay' technology (a cost effective technique) for a number of our streets.

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