City receives a “Class 2″ rating on its fire audit
At Monday night’s Public Safety & Welfare meeting, there was a discussion regarding a subsection in the Code of General Ordinances regarding fire inspection and re-inspection fees. Two inspections a year are required for each commercial building and multi-family unit of three units or more. What the committee would like to see are re-inspection fees passed along to the non-conforming parties after the first inspection visit. Those in compliance wouldn’t be required to pay costs.
Fire chief, John Thomsen, stated that he has written only two citations in his 18 years. Thomsen further stated, “The Fire Department is not about writing fines. We want safe buildings. We get enforcement, not through fines, but the fact that the people get sick of seeing us.” The Committee requested Matt Knight, assistant city attorney, to draft the language. Alderperson Michael Orth asked Knight to review case law for any lawsuits involving fire inspection fees. Orth and Knight were not aware of any, but Knight agreed to do a review. This item was then deferred for two weeks.
Another fire-related topic of discussion had to do with the Public Protection Classification Summary (ISO Report), dated May 13, 2011, which was received and filed. This report has ramifications for every tax payer in the city because it rates the city on the audit results. The City of Kenosha received a “Class 2″ rating on its Fire and Public Water Distribution facilities. Very few cities are rated “Class 1;” it’s very rare. There are none in Wisconsin. Seventy percent of the country has the “Class 2″ rating. This rating affects insurance rates. Orth wanted to know how Kenosha compared to surrounding cities, and Thomsen stated that, “We’re substantially better than Racine.”
A lengthy discussion ensued regarding what the city had to do to get a ”Class 1″ rating. It was felt by Chief Thomsen that the money that was needed to get Kenosha up to a “Class 1″ rating was not feasible and not necessary. “We will never get this standard,” he said. Orth stated, “It’s not practical; it’s not realistic or necessary.” One area Thomsen did feel that the department was lacking was the necessary computer hardware (laptops) so that the software that the fire fighters need can run properly. The hardware the department currently owns is old, slow, and not up-to-date.
A citizen request for intersection control at 56th Street and 38th Avenue was approved for a 90-day trial.
Another topic of discussion at the meeting was ordinance amendments related to various sections of Chapter 15 of the Code of General Ordinances and various sections of the Zoning Ordinance related to off-premise commercial signs. Matt Knight asked that this item be placed on the agenda so that the committee could give him some direction as to their desires for the amendments. Knight read from the minutes of the June 27th meeting:
“It was moved by Alderman Orth, seconded by LaMacchia to direct City Attorney to draft ordinance that will retain current billboards faces, allow them to be upgraded, limiting their numbers but remaining constant, inclusive of digital language including the requirement for neighborhood meetings and restrictions based on traffic and residential areas and alderman of the district’s approval. Motion passed 5-0.”
There will be a need to change the zoning ordinance as well. This has not yet been drafted, but the work is being started. Knight offered an initial draft to the committee and to the two sign representatives just a short time before the meeting started. No one really had much time to digest the draft. Knight asked for comments from the committee and the two sign reps.
The last item for discussion was traffic control near Lance Middle School. Lieutenant Patricia Flahive was present, filling in for Officer Dennis Walsh, the safety officer. Chairman Jesse Downing stated that he had received comments only about a month ago from concerned parents and the principal regarding the speed with which people travel on 85th Street. ”It’s like they are traveling on a highway.” Downing suggested to the acting director, Michael Lemens, that something be placed in the crosswalks before the start of the school year. Additional signage was recommended between 43rd and 47th Avenues.
The possible use of crossing guards came up. Apparently, since Tremper High School and Jane Vernon Elementary School now have different start times (within 35 minutes of each other), the crossing guard at 85th Street and 26th Avenue will no longer be needed. Flahive stated that the suggestion was made to move the crossing guard to Lance on a 60-day trial basis. Flahive also stated that middle schools don’t typically use crossing guards. Middle school students feel crossing guards are for little kids and will go two blocks up and cross where they choose. Downing stated that he didn’t particularly like the idea of using crossing guards, especially only on a 60-day basis, because as soon as people get used to seeing the crossing guards there, they will be taken away. “What we need to do is slow down the traffic there in the next one to two weeks,” Downing said. Flahive said that the police force hits heavily during the first month of school. “They ‘beef up’ the manpower on days. They hold over third shift officers to help.”
Alderperson Anthony Kennedy said that he spoke with concerned people. “It’s exactly what’s been stated. People are concerned with the speed and possible injury.” He had invited a concerned parent and the principal here for tonight’s meeting, but they did not attend. He asked that the item be placed on the agenda again, and he would again invite the two to come and speak to the committee.
“The next meeting will find us with the school year here,” Downing remarked. School starts on September 1st. Officer Walsh will be present at the next meeting to further discuss this issue.