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Council approves capital, staffing plans
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PLATTEVILLE — The Platteville Common Council voted Sept. 11 to, in order, allow the city to borrow more money, spend money on capital projects, and spend less money on employee compensation.

The first two items were approved unanimously. The council voted to amend the city’s Financial Management Plan to increase the city’s debt limit from $1,000 per resident — a limit the city has exceeded since 2006 — to $2,000 per resident.

The change increases the city debt limit to $22.676 million, although another limit of 3.5 percent of equalized value restricts debt to $19.525 million. Both limits are higher than the city’s debt of $17.614 million as of the end of 2011. State law limits municipal debt to 5 percent of equalized value, which would be almost $27.9 million.

The council also unanimously approved the city’s 2013–17 Capital Improvement Plan. The 2013 cost of $5,024,700 includes $2,386,526 borrowed by the city, $953,174 from the city property tax levy, $929,000 funded by water and sewer ratepayers, and $300,000 funded by tax incremental financing.

Work on portions of four city streets is slated for next year — Broadway from Main Street to Stephens Avenue, for $1.01 million; Stonebridge Road north of Main Street, for $585,000; Evergreen Road (if the city gets a state grant for half of construction costs), for $600,000; and North Fourth Street from Sylvia Street to Camp Street, for $440,000.

The capital plan also includes $50,000 for a one-ton dump truck, $35,000 for a one-ton chassis-cab truck, $45,000 for a utility tractor with mower, and $29,000 for a new police car.

The capital plan also budgets $100,000 in improvements to the Platteville Community Auditorium in the Municipal Building, $40,000 for a runway project at Platteville Municipal Airport, $60,000 for a boiler at the Family Aquatic Center, and $26,000 in technology updates for the Fire Department.

The longest discussion of the three was for the last item, the city’s staffing plan, which creates a “leaner governmental structure” through taking advantage of “early retirements, retirements, and position vacancies,” according to city documents.

The plan is estimated to save up to $301,000 in employee compensation by the end of 2013, under a scenario in which every new city employee chooses family health insurance.

The portions of the plan implemented so far eliminated custodian positions, cut three other positions and added three positions. Plans for 2013 include eliminating five positions and adding four positions, along with eliminating two positions and adding four positions in the Water and Sewer Department.

Common Council President Mike Dalecki said the plan has the “potential to save another $150,000 a year. As we have retirements and attrition, we need to do that. We’re not laying anybody off.”

“The instruction I have from the city council is that there will be no layoffs and no terminations as a result of this plan,” said City Manager Larry Bierke. “This is planning for staff changes.”

“I believe the staffing plan does not give us real cost” savings, said District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian, who disagrees with the creation of a director of administration position partially paid by water and sewer revenues. Going down the list of the new position’s responsibilities, he said, “I believe the city manager is not carrying out responsibilities that I believe the city manager should be carrying out.”

“Just because the person advises the city manager doesn’t mean the city manager won’t be doing that,” replied Dalecki.

District 2 Ald. Eileen Nickels said shifting costs from the city to water and sewer “eventually will lead to higher water and sewer rates. That may happen anyway.”

Nickels said it’s “not good policy for the city to increase administrative staff at this point.” As city employees retire, she said, “we can discuss each individual position at that time.”

The staffing plan passed 4–2, with Kilian and Nickels opposed.