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City building referendum discussed for Municipal Building, fire station work
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The Municipal Building is proposed to have $4.5 million of work over the next two years. The Municipal Building is on Bonson Street, which is proposed to be repaired at $490,000 this coming year.

by Steve Prestegard

Platteville City Manager Karen Kurt opened the Sept. 29 Common Council special meeting by describing the city’s 2016–20 Capital Improvement Plan as “at this point more a wish list than reality.”

The city therefore could be said to have a wish list of almost $43.6 million in capital projects over the next five years, $9.6 million of that coming in 2016.

The Common Council’s meeting informally prioritized the list before budget deliberations, including 2016 capital project spending, is considered later this year.

The plan includes nearly $4 million in street work, including Bonson Street from Main Street to Furnace Street, Richard Street from Straw Avenue to Chestnut Street, Short Street from Adams Street to Cedar Street, Cedar Street from Water Street to Fourth Street, Mason Street from Hollman Street to Lancaster Street, Furnace Street from Chestnut Street to its west end, Biarritz Boulevard and DeValera Drive. 

The plan also proposes adding sidewalks at the 

See PLAN page 8A υ

intersection of Business 151 and South Water Street, estimated at $450,000, and East Business 151 and East Mineral Street, estimated at $200,000, based on the possibility of state funding to augment city funding. Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot described the proposals, as well as a proposal for sidewalks at West Business 151 and Staley Avenue, as “placeholders” until state funding was secured.

The 2016 plan includes $2 million in work on the Municipal Building, with the rest to be completed in 2017 under the proposed schedule.

“I don’t want us to be paralyzed because we’ve had a couple different plans in the past,” said Kurt. “If were committed to keeping city staff at this building, we can figure out what goes around it.”

The plan also includes construction of an expanded fire station after 2016, with land acquisition around the current fire station in 2017 and $3.5 million in expansion work in 2019.

District 3 Ald. Barb Daus raised the possibility of the city’s holding a referendum, similar to a school district, to fund some building work.

“The question is is there enough money,” she said. “I don’t know how we can keep doing more when we have $30,000 more to spend” in tax revenues.

District 1 Ald. Barb Stockhausen suggested holding a referendum for the Municipal Building work, a new fire station and proposed improvements at the Mining and Rollo Jamison Museums.

“If you want to do a project like the school district does, do a big package,” she said. “They love their schools, but do they love city hall? … They want city hall, but they want a fire station more.”

“I definitely think city hall is more of a priority than the fire station,” said Fire Chief Ryan Simmons, who said the current building has “four or five years” use left.

At-large Ald. Mike Denn said he was opposed to doing any Municipal Building work until after fire station work is completed.

“What are you going to do if they vote no and you still need it?” asked District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian.

“I’m not opposed to other options, but I don’t want to limit to a referendum,” said Common Council president Eileen Nickels.

According to the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, municipalities can hold a referendum to exceed the state property tax levy limit. The referendum could not be held until August at the earliest, and more likely November 2016, because the state Department of Revenue doesn’t release numbers on new municipal construction, which determines a municipality’s allowable tax levy increase under state limits, before Aug. 1.

Only $1.17 million of the 2016 capital list is projected to be funded through the city’s property tax levy. About $5.36 million would be funded through borrowing via general obligation notes, with nearly $2 million from water and sewer bonds and the rest from other revenues.

The 2016 list includes:

• The first $2 million of $4.5 million in proposed renovations to the Municipal Building over the next two years. The first year’s cost include designs and plans, infrastructure upgrades, and the cost of moving city staff out of the building during work. The second phase in 2017 includes office renovations and the cost of moving city staff back into the building.

• $700,000 for furnishings, equipment and technology at the Platteville Public Library when it moves into its new facility, funded by $520,000 in Library Foundation fundraising and $180,000 in the library’s building fund. The request includes wireless Internet equipment to make wireless available within three blocks of the library.

• $525,000 for a new fire engine, to replace a 34-year-old engine, upgrading capacity to 1,750 gallons per minute and improving foam capabilities for fires involving vehicles with ethanol or aviation fuel.

• $425,000 for new hangars at Platteville Municipal Airport, which would be paid for by airport revenues and not city funds.

• $366,000 for foundation work on the Mining Museum building, an elevator for handicap-access on its second floor, and upgrading three exterior doors and two interior doors with automatic door openers. Another $30,600 is included for landscaping on the northwest side of the museum campus because the rail-tie landscaping is deteriorating.

• $240,000 in street and sidewalk maintenance and repair.

• $238,000 in new public works and parks vehicles, including a 2½-ton dump truck, an end loader and a tractor. 

• $84,000 for a new Fire Department command vehicle to replace firefighter command staff private vehicle use, and a new crew cab pickup truck to replace the current fire inspector’s SUV.

• $53,000 in Harrison Park to replace playground equipment damaged in the 2014 EF2 tornado, and to add two sand volleyball courts.

• $48,700 in upgraded police 911 equipment and software, because Grant County is replacing its 911 equipment and software. The upgrade would allow city dispatch to handle cellular 911 calls instead of sending them through Grant County dispatch in Lancaster first. Another $20,000 is listed for new police mobile radios.

• $45,000 for a new airport terminal and hangar roof, all but $5,000 paid for by the city.

• $40,000 for a new Platteville Public Transportation taxi van, which would require only $8,000 in city funding, with the rest paid for by federal and state mass transit grants.

• $25,000 for an upgraded city website.

Denn wants the city to move toward a faster cycle for replacement of the city’s 23 trucks, used by the Public Works, Parks and Recreation and Streets departments and other city departments. The 2016 plan includes a recommendation of converting to a 12-year truck replacement cycle.

“At 14 years, you’re just not going to have anything left,” he said. “A 14-yearold truck, you’ve probably replaced parts once, so you’ve wasted a lot of money.”

At-large Ald. Amy Seeboth-Wilson wants to see a street replacement plan with more mileage considered. The 2016 plan includes 1.05 miles of street work.

“I’d like to see what a 35-year replacement cycle would look like,” she said.

Director of Administration Duane Borgen said the Bonson Street work could be eligible for funding in one of the city’s Tax Incremental Financing district plans, since it is within 1.5 miles of downtown TIF 7.

The Capital Improvement Plan is likely to be considered at the next council meeting Monday at 7 p.m. The meeting was moved from its usual second-Tuesday date because of a scheduling conflict.