Finance Committee reviews 2012-2016 capital improvement plan
Last night, the Finance Committee reconvened its meeting from Wednesday night to review the 2012-2016 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Mayor Keith Bosman stated that other committees have reviewed and approved the plan. The following represent the highlights of the budget reviews:
Administration – Chairman David Bogdala asked about the status of the new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software project. Finance director Carol Stancato responded that employees in the Finance, Storm Water Utility, and Information Technology Departments met with the consultant. A draft copy of the consultant’s report was presented, but Stancato has not had a chance to review it yet. A meeting is planned for mid-December with the steering team, then a request for proposal (RFP) will be prepared.
Bogdala wanted to know what Stancato expects for the $500,000 expense. Stancato doesn’t know what the consultant will be suggesting. It will take about twelve months to get started, and another six months to get the system up to working capacity. Bogdala stated that he is in support of this software; the city has needed it for a long time. However, once the vendor is chosen, he wants hard milestones that the committee can review. Alderperson Theodore Ruffalo stated that the Legal Department doesn’t have a case management system. They currently use an Excel document to track their cases. “This is hardly a way to manage an office with sensitive documents,” he said. “Why is there not an expense for a software package such as this in the CIP?” Ed Antaramian, the city attorney, was not present for the committee to pose the question to. City administrator Frank Pacetti stated that he is not aware of a request for this software from the Legal Department. Alderperson Eric Haugaard wanted to know if the software could be incorporated for legal, but Pacetti said that it was unrelated. Stancato stated that it was a general ledger system, financial-related. Pacetti did state that “you can make it as broad as you want, but with the dollars that we have available, we are focusing on the general ledger system.”
Airport – Two items were proposed for next year: snow removal equipment, and design engineering for electrical systems on runways, and lighting. The snow removal equipment is dedicated for the airport and will be stationed at the airport, but it can be used throughout the city for emergencies. They are currently using the city’s snow blower, and it is also stationed at the airport. It belongs to the Street Department. The airport is maintaining it. Once they get their own equipment, it will be returned to the Street Department. Bogdala asked if they planned on providing specs for the equipment to the committee, and the answer was that they will be. Bogdala made a broad statement that this committee needs to have the specs on any type of equipment to be purchased, but he is not stopping anything tonight. But, going forward, he’d like to see the specs.
Community Development – Jeff LaBahn, city development director talked about two recurring items: property maintenance and acquisition costs. The acquisition costs is a discretionary fund at the disposal of the Common Council to acquire properties. As a result of the recent action of the Bear settlement, LaBahn asked that a new line item be added entitled “Community Reinvestment,” in the amount of $3.7 million in 2012. The committee voted to accept the addition. Then, the committee had a discussion about property maintenance costs. LaBahn reported that approximately $22,000 is spent a year on all of the properties that the city owns. There are a total of 111 properties; the Redevelopment Authority maintains 34. The city has built 14 homes. ”And we are building six more?” Bogdala asked. He wanted to go on record to say that “this program cannot continue. The maintenance costs alone from a bonding standpoint are killing us. As we gain more and more properties, maintenance costs will go up. The Common Council made it very clear ‘No more houses.’ Now is not the time to be adding housing stock. It makes no sense.”
Alderperson Tod Ohnstad stated, “Now that we don’t have a real estate agent any longer, what are we doing to market these homes?” LaBahn said that they are finalizing the RFP for real estate services as we speak. Tony Gelichi, CDBG program administrator, added that they have placed signs in front of the homes, placed pictures on their website, advertised on Channel 25′s information scrolls, displayed the income requirements, prices, and pictures, plus other options. Having a broker will allow the city to reap the benefits of the MLS listings. Ohnstad wanted to know: ”If there was a program that would encourage city workers to buy these homes, could they change the income guidelines?” But the answer was no. Because the homes are part of a federal home program, the income guidelines are that the prospective owners need to be at 80% of median or less. There are other homes that are part of a state home program, and those have a guideline of 120% of median income. “Therefore,” Gelichi said, ”we can attract more people on those houses.” Bogdala reminded administration that, “when the position was eliminated from the budget last year, our suggestion was to do just that. It’s a little late, but I’m glad to see the private sector ‘bird dog’ the properties for us.”
Fire Department – Fire Chief John Thomsen gave a rundown of their projects: They are taking receipt of the engine company during the first part of 2012. The rescue squad replacement will be received within the next 30 days. The radio project is now complete. New items in the plan include emergency communication radio and towers, and cardiac monitors. Deputy Chief Daniel Santelli described the work done on their six buildings: Station No. 3 - tuckpointing to be finished in the Spring, and exterior paint. Station No. 4 - paint and window treatments, and asphalt replacement. Station No. 5 - paint, roof repair, caulking, carpet, traffic control, electricity, and waterproofing. “All of these projects were accomplished this year, which gives us a good start for next year,” Santelli said. Ruffalo asked about the fire radio system. “Wasn’t there a problem earlier in the year?” The radios are present, but they need to upgrade the antennas. Ruffalo wanted to know if the police and fire department radios are separate. ”Do they have to be?” Ruffalo asked. Thomsen’s reply was, “Yes, they are on a different frequency.” Currently, the Police Department is using digital, but this wouldn’t work for the Fire Department. “Messages come over in packages. If a fireman doesn’t get the entire message, it’s extremely dangerous.” Bogdala asked Morrissey if he had any issues from a digital standpoint? Morrissey deferred to Captain Bartholomew as the expert, and Bartholomew stated that he is not concerned that the radios they use pose a safety issue. Thomsen stated that the “County fire service is slow and cautious in adopting new technology. They are going to stay with analog. The firemen work in a different environment. With the heat, etc., analog works better for us.” Thomsen stated that he missed talking about two new purchases: extrication equipment, and defibrillation equipment.
Library – The room expansion for the Kenosha north side library was budgeted at $70,000, and only $47,654 was spent. For 2012, the plan is to address the limestone deterioration on Simmons Library. An assessment will cost $25,000. They have budgeted $75,000 for 2012. They’ve also put a $100,000 placeholder in 2016 for continued work on Simmons Library. This library is the only historical landmark of this size owned by the city of Kenosha. In 2013, the plan is to repair and replace the parking lot for the north side library. In 2015, $125,000 has been budgeted to replace the sloped roofs at the north side library. Ohnstad made the comment that the new room is really nice.
Museum – The interim museum director, Peggy Gregorski, discussed three projects for the next five years. At the Civil War Museum, they would like to complete the “Fiery Trail” exhibit. The cost is $1.2 million for the project, which will be funded from mostly outside sources. ”We could push this to 2013.” Plans for the Kenosha Public Museum are to work on the second floor exhibits. Bogdala asked the interim director, “What will you do if you come up short?” Gregorski answered that they would have to scale back the project. Bogdala said that the committee would like to meet the new director once he comes on board on December 1st. “We’d like to hear from him on these concepts.”
Police Department – Police Chief John Morrissey and Captain Bartholomew presented the Police Department CIP. All three projects are continuation projects. The police network is up and running. As far as replacing police cars, we’ve replaced ten marked and three unmarked cars. This year, we bought three pick-up’s instead to be used for animal control. We budgeted $70,000 for the radio upgrade; there is currently $7,000 that is not needed. These have not been installed yet. “We’ve had some problems with Cricket. Milwaukee Two-Way, the vendor, has bigger projects. Therefore, we go on the back burner.” Morrissey also said that they have purchased three police motorcycles. “We used to lease them before, but that got too expensive.” As far as the Project Status Report, the in-car camera systems are done. The furniture for the Safety Building is done. No funding is being requested past 2013 for any items other than squad cars. “I’d love to get a new command vehicle website mobile station if the economy improves. But, this is not the responsible time to ask for it.” Bogdala asked about the repeaters. “Weren’t there issues/delays last year? Coverage issues on the far west side, in Strawberry Creek? I need to elevate this. This is a safety issue.” Morrissey said that the portables are from Milwaukee Two-Way. There is a problem with the Cricket tower. The mobile radios work fine. It’s the portables.” Bogdala asked, ”Is it too far along to pull back?” Morrissey said that it was. ”Isn’t the Fire Department using Milwaukee Two-Way? What do you think of the service, Chief Thomsen?” Thomsen’s reply was that they were comfortable with the service. ”But, then again, it’s analog.” Bogdala’s comment was “One says it’s working bad, the other says it’s working good.” Bogdala asked Stancato to keep a running total of unneeded funds that the various departments are returning. She said that she would.
Public Works- Director/City Engineer Mike Lemens and Shelley Billingsley presented the Public Works CIP. Lemens started out by talking about the city’s infrastructure. “This is the largest investment the city has, and the oldest. There is no shortage of projects to do. We have more requests than funding. But, we’ve made good progress.” On the sidewalk repair program, there is a significant level. Resurfacing funds have remained constant. Pavement markings are a reoccurring cost. The rest are composite projects, or one-time, or they cover multiple years. Pacetti said, “This year, unlike prior years, we haven’t listed the streets. It’s a more flexible program. We’re letting the alderpersons choose the streets.” Bogdala said, “When they do decide, they are to bring their list to the Public Works Committee. Are there ten roads this year? On the list, are they eligible for CDBG funding?” Lemens said that they do maintain an eligible list presented to the CDBG program. Lemens continued, “Currently, it’s estimated that there is $8.5 million dollars worth of work necessary. We have less than that a year. Maybe ten percent. We do ten percent of the work needed. There are 310 to 311 center line miles of streets in the city of Kenosha. Ten percent need work. We get ten percent funding. So, basically, we do one percent of the work that we could do per year.” Bogdala said that he has seen the list. “Most all qualify for CDBG funding,” he said. Lemens said that he thought that none of them qualified. Bogdala said that they need to be taken out of the equation. Lemens said that they do.
Bogdala then brought up 104th Avenue. “A portion of it was done one year ago, from 64th Street to 60th Street. It’s in dire need. As far as plowing, it’s a red street (meaning it gets first priority). It’s a main artery. Fire Department Station No. 7 uses 104th Avenue to get to Aurora and St. Catherine’s. The remaining portion needs to be done.” Lemens stated that he appreciated Bogdala’s concern. Half of the frontage is not in the city. Bogdala continued, “It’s sorely needed. The residents appreciate what’s been done so far. That’s the way I take home from here. It’s a disaster. We’ve got to get it done. I hear this constantly from my constituents, even from the Fire Department.” Then, Ruffalo talked about pavement markings. “Along the lakefront, it’s in dire need. We want to promote pedestrian foot traffic. Do we have enough dollars?” There are limits based on the city’s capacity to borrow. We need to keep within our available resources. Ruffalo continued, “We want to make our lakefront vibrant. Adding striping makes people feel comfortable.” Ohnstad stated that “We haven’t lost our ability to borrow. Our credit rating is good. We just need to do it in a fiscally prudent manner.” Bosman said that the resurfacing budget is now $2.4 to $2.5 million/year every year. “It used to be $1.4 to $1.5 million previously. We’re playing catchup. We would put the emphasis on resurfacing. If we can move dollars from resurfacing to striping, it could be done.”
Other Public Works – This includes equipment and special projects. Lemens stated that the city is in the process of implementing the GPS tracking system. “It’s on a test trial basis. We’re installing in the vehicles as we speak. It should be ready to go the first of December.” Bogdala wanted to know, “Are we ready to go?” Lemens replied “Not quite yet. Twenty-five vehicles need hardwiring to install. Most vehicles don’t have cigarette lighters.” Bogdala wanted to know who would have access to monitor the system. The answer given was all alderpersons and service providers. Pacetti said that a person would be required to have a login to use the system. Lemens stated that it would be password protected with smart codes.
Ruffalo asked about salt demolition funds. Lemens stated that salt deliveries were made to the old building last winter. Now, the new building is completed. “With our usage of salt, it should be emptied by the end of January. Then, we’ll have salt delivered to the new salt storage building. Then, we’ll take steps to demolish the old building. We saw no advantage of moving the material twice. The committee voted unanimously to approve the plans.
Parks – Jeff Warnock and Shelley Billingsley presented the Parks CIP Plan. The Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (CORP) lists many upgrades. “It’s our wish list, “said Warnock. ”It totals $1.3 million a year. We know that’s not going to happen. But, there has been such neglect in the parks and the emphasis has been on park buildings.” They upgraded their maintenance fleet. ”Where it used to take us four or five trucks to go out and plant flowers, it now takes two. This saves on gas, and wear and tear on the vehicles. From the flowers to the fireworks, it’s been nice. We hope you agree.” Ohnstad asked about reforestation. He was told that removal of the trees with emerald ash borer is the main concern. Bogdala wanted to know, “Why is the Strawberry Creek Park in 2013? When the others, Sunrise and Simmons Park, are in 2012?” He was told that it had to do with the DNR funding and grants being applied for. Bogdala wanted to know when a shovel was going in the ground. Billingsley answered that it would be in the Spring. Bogdala continued, “You know, that area has nothing; other areas have at least something.” Bogdala pushed Warnock and Lemens for a commitment.
Ruffalo then brought up the issue of dredging. ”The Finance Committee continue to pour dollars into this problem. Why don’t we get the Army Corps of Engineers to fix the problem long-term. We’re just putting a band aid on a bleeding artery. We spend $225,000 to $300,000 to dredge the harbor every few years.” Lemens said that he just attended a meeting dealing with recreation harbors. Unfortunately, there is no funding available from the Army Corps of Engineers. Money from the Federal government is all going to cargo ports. “If I don’t attend, we get no priority.” Ruffalo said that we don’t want to lose our “Safe Harbor” status. Ruffalo requested that a study be done. Lemens said that he will attempt again. He said that he would work through the Detroit Office. Ruffalo said that this work affects the future of the harbor. “We can’t set up docks. It will affect tourism. In order to move forward with more visionary things, we need to get this work done.” Ruffalo asked for preliminary numbers, even if they were only a best guess. Bosman stated that he thought the cost would be greater than $3 million. Haugaard mentioned the Southport Marina on the south side, too.
Redevelopment Authority – LaBahn presented only a one-year request for 2012. It consisted of property maintenance in the amount of $12,000 for 34 properties; and $350,000 for foreclosure acquisition in the Wilson Heights neighborhood. Bogdala wanted to know why there was only one year of expenses. LaBahn said that we would have to ask the chairman, but unfortunately she (Alderperson Katherine Marks) was not present. Bogdala wanted a rationale for the costs. “I’ve continually asked for that. I thought they had a long-term focus. Why not request funds for the other years?” Bogdala said, “I have asked for a joint meeting of the Finance Committee, the Redevelopment Authority, CDBG, and the Home Program Commission. That hasn’t happened. And, now we’re being asked to approve $362,000 with no real indication of what the money will be used for.” Ruffalo moved to defer or send forward the plan to the Common Council with no recommendation.
Transit – Ron Iwen discussed the CIP for the Transit Department. They put money in the CIP for resealing, resurfacing, re-striping the lots, and narrow banding radios in 2014. Iwen stated that getting five buses annually is his goal. He needs to seek funding. Ruffalo wanted to know why an engineering study on the streetcar expansion was not yet done. “It’s just preliminary and harmless,” he said. Both Pacetti and the mayor said that what they want to do would be determined this year. Bosman said that KABA and the Chamber would be conducting a downtown study next summer.
Storm Water Utility – Lemens and Billingsley were up again. There is a GPS equipment receiver in 2015. Bogdala wanted to defer action until he heard from the chairman of the committee. Pacetti stated that the Storm Water Utility Committee did approve the plan unanimously.
The committee gave its unanimous approval to send the proposed 2012–2016 CIP Plan as amended, with reservations on the Redevelopment Authority CIP, to the Common Council. Bogdala thanked all of the city staff for their hard work and dedicated efforts.