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Platteville Journal letters for Dec. 19
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Well-deserved raise

What would we do without our skilled and dedicated hourly city employees?

These devoted employees repair, sweep, maintain and remove snow on over 50 miles of our city streets. They maintain our traffic signs and signals, storm sewers, tree removal, brush and leaf removal, lawn care of cemeteries and parks, the swimming pool, and playing fields. They shovel and salt the crosswalks on Main Street, foot trails and park sidewalks; and plow all city parking lots. They paint curbs, parking stalls and crosswalks, and hang our Christmas decorations.

Our employees are responsible for more than 50 miles each of water and sanitary sewer lines, which includes more than 270,000 feet of sewer that need to be jetted, vacuumed and televised. They service more than 500 fire hydrants and keep them free of snow in the winter. They answer to call-in emergency situations. They locate water and sewer mains and services for contractors and residents. They draft and revise maps of our water distribution and wastewater collection systems. We have a water meter technician and cross-connection inspector.

Our experienced employees provide safe drinking water for our city by maintaining the chemical addition, bacteria sampling, lab tests, well sampling and checks, and filing state reports. Our wastewater lab technician and operators test and treat wastewater to meet the DNR standards, inspect plant equipment and haul sludge.

Our mechanic works on all city vehicles, which include police squad cars and city-owned equipment. We have employees that inspect buildings for fire hazards, review building plans for code compliance, perform inspections, and enforce local zoning codes.

Our office personnel prepares and verifies payroll, processes employees medical claims, reviews insurance premiums, runs leak detections, processes water billing, schedules recreational events, maintains inventory and files, keeps records — the list goes on.

These same hourly employees have had to adjust to major cuts in 2012. They lost sick leave days they had “earned” (as worded in past agreements, handbooks and personal policies), took a cut in hours, while at the same time taking on the work load of the 2012 retired employees — whose positions were not replaced.

What a tremendous workload for these employees. Without these committed and highly trained city employees, the City of the Good Life may not have it quite as good.

Bernadette Hall

Shovel the snow

I am disgusted with the state of sidewalks after the wee bit of snow we had, followed by freezing, in early December. I take my life in my hands trying to take a walk with my walker. Every block has at least one house where they have failed to shovel the walk … and now it is bump-a-ly ice! My dog and I have a hard time maneuvering on it! On some blocks I gave up and walked in the street!

I usually walk Rosie from Jenor Tower up Oak to Mineral, Mineral to Second, usually two blocks up Second, and then turn left for one or two blocks. Then we start returning, via Third or Bronson to Mineral, and walk Mineral to Oak, and then back to Jenor Towers. Go drive the path and you’ll see what I mean about the sidewalks.

The corners are the worse messes, especially at the end of the sidewalk ramps! Even downtown!

I really think Platteville needs to reconsider its snow shoveling regulations. Don’t school children, college students, dog walkers, and handicapped deserve a safe sidewalk to walk on? Platteville calls itself a city, but too many of its sidewalks and corner curb cuts are obstacle courses in the winter. It is dangerous!

Seems to me sidewalks should be shoveled or blown or plowed clear in time for school children and other pedestrians to safely use the sidewalk every day. Blizzards would be an exception.

Also, I can’t help notice that the downtown City Park walkways are plowed clear, but Jenor Park walkways are not. Not cricket!

Platteville can and should do better.

Janet M. Diehl
75 N. Oak St. #312, Platteville

On the city’s new hires

I want to first of all thank you for having The Journal available to people who are out of town and can receive the paper via the U.S. Postal Service.

I have read last week’s Journal with interest especially as it speaks to the budget shortfall. If I an not mistaken City Manager Larry Bierke was speaking about a budget surplus at the last meeting I attended in October, as he was making out the budget and included the additional administrators in his calculations.

Many of the proposed administrative hires are to be paid by either the Public Works or Water and Sewer budgets, and there was no talk of a garbage rate hike. All of the new hires will be administrators for the City of Platteville, but their pay will come from the various departments through higher fees.

As of last week, as I read, there was talk about a $60 garbage fee and a $7 tax hike for our municipal workers. I guess working for UWP is a very rewarding job for both employees and retirees as these increases already seem to be cast in stone. Isn’t it great when the average citizen who does not or did not work for UWP as either an “educator” or “administrator is against these increases. Most, if not all, of the rest of us retired people who are on a fixed income may have problems paying the bills.

I totally understand that our city council wants the same work structure as UWP has with all the layers of upper and middle management. That is the only way that most of the council members work at their full-time jobs. Platteville, however, has a student body of some 8,000 students, and there are only approximately 3,141 residents in the city (approximate population 11,141). The true population can not afford this type of pyramid. Besides, who is going to be the person at the very top of the pyramid since we do not have a mayor?

But wait a minute … we do have a city council and the city council president does have the power to appoint a city manager whose salary is over $100,000, and a Director of Business Administration (salary another six figures) and Director of Personnel (high five figures) and any other department head he feels like, and does not have to hold himself accountable to the citizens of Platteville.

I’m a practical person and I do not spend money that I do not have. I think that is how most of us live, but when you do not have to account for or justify what you spend, it is really simple.

The type of hiring or even the implied hiring of additional multilevel directors is totally counterproductive to the city of Platteville. The Director of Administration is nothing more than an assistant city manager, and the director of personnel is a function of the city manager.

I also understand as Ald. Nickels says the employees have given back enough and it is time for them to get something in return. She is correct and the way she has proposed the increase is a very novel idea and I like it. I wish her proposal would have been presented in a timely manner so that it could have been discussed instead of a knee-jerk reaction that it was.

Unfortunately that is how this council works. The thought process starts and begins at the council chamber doors and is not thought of again until the next meeting.

Homeowners can not deduct fees from their income taxes but can deduct taxes, and I applaud Ald. Nickels.

Michael V. Mayo

The Platteville Journal will print most letters to the editor, regardless of the opinion presented. The Journal reserves the right to edit material that is libelous or otherwise offensive to community standards and to shorten letters the Journal feels are excessively long. All letters must be signed and the signature must appear on the printed letter, along with a contact number or email for verification. Some submitted letters may not be published due to space constraints. “Thank you” letters will not be printed. All letters and columns represent the views of the writers and not necessarily the views of the Platteville Journal.