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Posted on: August 18, 2017

News in Brief

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:

  • 64th Street and North Avenue
  • Wauwatosa Avenue and Hillcrest Drive
  • Harwood Avenue and Milwaukee Avenue
  • Echelon Place
  • Robertson Street and Harwood Avenue
  • The Reef Apartments (N 62nd Street near W State Street)
  • 68th Street and W Wells Street

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. 

August 4th, 2017

Government Efficiency Benefits Wauwatosa Taxpayers

Doing more with less has been a mantra for Wisconsin local governments for several years, and Wauwatosa is no exception. This is evidenced by the fact that, when accounting for inflation, Wauwatosa households paid less in property taxes for city services in 2017 ($1,884 on average) than they did in 2012 ($1,865 on average) and enjoy today's services for $2 less than in 2009 ($1,886 on average). In fact, residents pay less for trash and recycling collection and also for fire and emergency medical services today than they did in 2002. These are two great examples of Wauwatosa's efficiency in service delivery. While eventually it will become more difficult to find ways to fund services through these types of efficiency measures, for now it is certainly something worth celebrating.

Torrent Games Benefit 
Hart Park & Wauwatosa
This year the City of Wauwatosa partnered with the Milwaukee Torrent, a professional outdoor soccer team, who played their games in Hart Park. The City waived the Torrent's rental fee and instead captured revenue from walk up ticket sales and a portion of concessions revenue. The total revenue from ticket sales and concessions surpassed the dollar amount that the City would have earned had the Torrent rented the stadium by approximately $5,500. This revenue will be used to fund operations and improvements at Hart Park, not to  mention the fact that we are exposing more visitors to Wauwatosa and our vibrant businesses. We are excited to announce that the Torrent will be back in 2018 under the same arrangement. 

Great Turnout at Coffee with a Cop
The Wauwatosa Police Department recently held two coffee with a cop events at Cranky Al's in East Tosa - one a traditional early morning event and one in the evening to accommodate different schedules. These events were well attended by over 100 residents who met with members of the Police Department. These events were held at a time that these neighborhoods experienced a series of vehicle thefts. Thank you to Chief Weber and his team for meeting with the public and addressing their concerns. 

The Wauwatosa Police Department reminds the public that many times crimes are prevented or solved and arrests made because alert citizens notice something and report it to the Police Department in a timely manner. Please continue to be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity to the police - if you see something, say something.

ave you visited Wauwatosa's crime mapping website? Be sure to filter down to see incidents by type. Did you know you can engage with us through crime mapping? Here's how:

  1. Register to receive customized alerts via email by certain geographic areas or by incident type. 
  2. Submit an anonymous tip to Crimestoppers.
Register a private security camera. If there is an incident in the area, the Police Department can easily contact the owner of any registered camera to seek relevant footage that may help solve a crime. 

July 24th, 2017
Webster Park - A New Playground in September
Work is slated to begin at Webster Park shortly after Labor Day to install a new playground. The removals and installation will take a few weeks. An AstroTurf play surface, bike rack, picnic tables, and walkway between the parking lot and the new playground will be installed. 

Repair Status of Water Feature in the Village Damaged from Accident

You may have seen on the news recently that a car managed to drive across the pedestrian bridge in the Village and hit the water feature in between Cafe Hollander and Cafe Bavaria. We do not want this to occur again and as such, the Department of Public Works installed three large concrete planters into this area and planted them with grasses and flowers. 

The Engineering Division has been working with the contractor to determine the extent of the damage to the fountain. Most of the damage was sustained on the western half of the structure, which will be removed to determine the extent of the damage to the mechanical components. Engineering is working with the contractor to establish a safe pedestrian zone around the water feature while the rebuilding efforts take place.

Wauwatosa's YouTube Channel & the Drop Off Center on Walnut Road
Have you been to the drop off center on a Saturday in summer? If you have, you know how much activity there can be at the Public Works Yard, which is open Tuesdays from 7:30 am - 7:00 pm (extended hours until 7:00 pm in summer only) and Saturdays from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm. If you haven't been recently, check out this video on the City of Wauwatosa's YouTube channel to see the activity from this past Saturday. Based on how quickly the dumpsters fill up, this is a highly utilized service offered by the City of Wauwatosa's Department of Public Works. 

Residents can purchase a $20 yard waste only permit or a $5/axle or vehicle one-time only permit to dispose of residential garbage, including bulky items like furniture and carpet. Learn more about the drop off center by visiting Wauwatosa's website.

West Nile Virus Confirmed 
in a Bird in Wauwatosa
The Health Department recently obtained a dead bird, which was sent to the state lab for testing, and has tested positive for West Nile Virus. You may have seen articles in the paper about mosquitoes in the City of Milwaukee testing positive for West Nile Virus. There have been no confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in humans. West Nile Virus symptoms include: fever, rash, headache, and joint pain. People with underlying medical conditions and over the age of 50 are most susceptible to the virus. Anyone with symptoms should contact their health care provider. 

Laura Conklin, Health Officer, has advised on a few precautionary measures that we can take: 

  • Limit outdoor time at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. 
  • Use an insect repellent with DEET, IR 3535, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. 
Remove standing or stagnant water on your property. The Health Department recently shared this photo on social media showing common locations of standing water on residential properties.

Public Works Department Participated in Story Time

The week of July 10 the Wauwatosa Public Library held construction themed story time events and Wauwatosa staff was thrilled to join in the fun. On July 12 the Department of Public Works represented the community by bringing 2 pieces of equipment down to the City Hall parking lot where kids of all ages were spotted excitedly climbing into a snow plow and a loader. Public Works even handed out child size play hard hats with the City's logo on them to each participant. Did you miss the event? Don't worry. Public Works will be handing them out at Tosa's Night Out on August 2 at the zoo. Operations Superintendent, Kevin Hurst, says, "Our team enjoys interacting with Wauwatosa residents outside of routine service delivery, like collecting trash and recycling. The kids had a great time seeing the equipment we use on construction projects and to keep the streets safely cleared of snow and ice during winter."  

July 9th, 2017

What to Do if a Bat Flies into Your Home
Bats are an important part of our ecosystem and we need them outside eating mosquitoes. It is not uncommon for them to find their way into homes. While the Wauwatosa Health Department cannot help a citizen capture a bat, they can help if a citizen comes into contact with a bat or has captured a bat and isn't sure what to do next. Call the Wauwatosa Health Department Information and Referral Nurse Line for help at 414-479-8939. Did you know that only 2 - 3% of the wild bat population carries the rabies virus? Bats can be removed from homes with towels, blankets, or boxes. The Health Department recommends you wear gloves. There are also several private animal control contractors that can help. 

City Earns $59,444 in Cash Back Rebates in 2016 for Use in 2017
A p-card is a credit card that provides cash back rebates. The City of Wauwatosa uses the p-card to pay for goods or services that would otherwise have been paid for by check. 

This year the City earned $59,444 in cash back for 2016 purchases made on the p-card. This reflects a 35% increase from the amount of rebates the City received in 2015. The rebate funds are split - 50% of the rebates are returned to each department as an incentive to utilize the p-card and the other 50% is allocated to the fund balance, going towards the year-end surplus. If the department does not use the funds, they are returned into the fund balance as well. 

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.

Financial benefits include saving postage and also stronger fraud protection. Check fraud is one of the leading types of fraud and credit cards have more buyer fraud protections. 

Public Works Installs Solar Powered Pedestrian Crossing Beacons
As part of an internal granting program, Wauwatosa staff recently installed four solar powered rapid flashing pedestrian crossing beacons at 70th Street and Chestnut Street. These are push-button activated pedestrian crossing signals. Staff was able to complete the installation in-house before the kick-off to summer events in Hart Park and at the Rotary Stage.

What does new construction do for Wauwatosa?
Development is everything from a kitchen and bathroom remodel to construction of a hotel. Why develop at all? Just as costs go up in your household each year for basic items, such as utilities, gas, groceries and more, so do costs to run a municipality like Wauwatosa. The majority of a municipality's budget is funded by tax dollars. The state of Wisconsin sets a cap on how much money communities can gain from property taxes, therefore net new construction drives how much you can increase your budget in any given year to fund services. Without new construction, additional revenue doesn't come in and therefore as the cost of doing business goes up, services must be cut or other efficiencies found to pay for it. The costs to provide the same services we provide today increase each year. Why does construction matter? It can fund the cost increases we face to operate Wauwatosa on a daily basis and also fund improvements to the quality of life you enjoy today. How much new construction is needed to keep services the same as they are today?
  • 2% of annual new growth allows us to keep the status quo.
  • 2.5% annual new growth allows us to improve services and/or decrease taxes.

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.

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Posted on: September 15, 2017

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