August 18th, 2017
Investing in Infrastructure: the State of Good Repair
For many years and for various reasons, Wauwatosa did not make sufficient investment into maintaining our infrastructure, thereby creating a large backlog of deferred maintenance. In 2012 the city initiated a more comprehensive investment into capital infrastructure, such as water mains, sewer mains, storm sewers, streets, bridges, traffic signals, street lights, and city buildings, based on an Analysis of Good Repair that was completed by the Engineering Division. This analysis shows the annual investment required to simply maintain the City's current infrastructure broken out by each category.
Prior to 2012, the City made an average of one-third of the required investment to maintain infrastructure in a state of good repair. Over the past five years, the City has intentionally invested into repairing and maintaining infrastructure in Wauwatosa. Residents see the evidence of this every year through construction projects underway and planned for the future. You also see the evidence of keeping Wauwatosa's infrastructure in good repair by the increase in Wauwatosa's debt. Given the low interest rates available at the time, the majority of the infrastructure program initiated in 2012 was debt financed.
Staff has recommended that the Common Council continue making these critical investments into Wauwatosa's infrastructure, but that alternative financing mechanisms (i.e. not debt alone) are considered in the future. Just as many of us try to put a certain amount of cash down when making a large purchase to limit our interest payments and save money over time, this concept also applies to construction work the City undertakes. This is already done in a limited fashion by financing the capital improvement budget with 11% cash on hand. Considering additional options to limit debt financing could allow savings of up to $60,000 annually. This will be an important discussion in the 2018 Budget. Finance Director John Ruggini recently provided a report on this subject to the Financial Affairs Committee. The report will be presented on September 12 and staff encourages you to attend this presentation or watch the video when it becomes available on the meeting portal.
Bublr Bike Share Expansion
The Strategic Plan called for an expansion of the Bublr Bike system in Wauwatosa. Stations are being added this year at seven locations:
Work is estimated for completion by the end of September. This work is an example of a regional partnership, as the installs are being done in concert by the same contractor who is completing Bublr Bike Station installations in West Allis and Shorewood.
69th Street Pedestrian Plaza Will Add 13 New Trees to Wauwatosa
Construction continues on the pedestrian plaza at 69th Street and North Avenue. The project will add 13 new trees to the project area in the plaza and adjacent to the parking on the east and west sides of 69th Street. Construction was stalled for a short period of time due to locating underground storage tanks during excavation. Work began again on Wednesday, August 9. The engineering staff is working with the general contractor to ascertain the impact this delay of a few weeks will have on the project schedule. The pedestrian plaza concept was developed out of the North Avenue Corridor Study from 2013, which included many public meetings.
Laura Conklin, Health Officer, has advised on a few precautionary measures that we can take:
The Department of Public Works has used these rebates to purchase tools that save staff time, allow more projects to be completed in-house, and in one notable case a tool that lowered on-the-job injury risks. Public Works has used their rebate to purchase a power screed, which is an automated tool that levels and smooths concrete slabs. This work used to be done by hand, which limited work efficiency and necessitated contracting out larger jobs. They also purchased a drill to put rebar into concrete slabs. This work was previously done by hand. These purchases not only allow Public Works to complete more work in-house, but also to be more efficient. What a great example of using p-card rebates to benefit the community.
Since 2006, Wauwatosa has averaged 1% annual new growth (or net new construction). This means that each year Wauwatosa finds efficiencies to help maintain the status quo and in the long run this will become difficult to sustain.
Village Reconstruction: 30 More Trees to be Added by 2018
Vegetation was recently removed as part of the Village construction project from Root Common and Pocket Parks, as well as other areas in the construction limits. Overall, approximately 60 trees were removed from the project limits, a number of which were ash trees. Approximately 90 trees will be added back throughout the entire project limits. Landscaping is planned for spring of 2018. If possible, Engineering will work with the contractor to add trees to the project this fall, dependent on the construction schedule and weather. The Forestry Division has a goal in the 2017 budget to have a 1:1 ratio of new tree planted per tree removed. This is an excellent example of exceeding that goal.