Dredging is a topic on the Public Safety & Welfare Committee agenda
- The proposed ordinance to repeal and recreate a section of the Code of General Ordinances for the city regarding temporary closing of a city street was unanimously approved. Alderperson Theodore Ruffalo commented that this revision cleans up existing language. It clarifies what civic event uses can close a city street. Alderperson Michael Orth named a few examples: marathons, Food, Folks & Spokes, Jazz Fest, Tall Ships, Blooming Days, Taste of Wisconsin, etc.
- The proposed ordinance to repeal and recreate a subsection of the Zoning Ordinance for the city regarding delinquent special assessments was deferred for two weeks. Ed Antaramian, city attorney, was present to explain. “Real estate taxes are not ultimately ours (the city’s) to keep. We settle with the County every year. They buy the real estate roll. Therefore, we can’t withhold permits because these are not ours to collect. Re-inspection fees are ours to collect, and these can be used as a basis for withholding permits.” The reason for the deferral was because Orth was concerned about there being a loophole for tax payers.
- The appointment of Mark Modory to the Kenosha City/County Joint Services Board of Directors, for a term to expire May 1, 2014, was approved. Mayor Keith Bosman spoke on Modory’s behalf. Bosman stated that he’s known Modory for twenty years. “He understands the issues, has managed a large budget, and is a city resident. I believe he’s the right man for the job.” Modory then spoke on his own behalf. These are Modory’s comments: “I’ve been on the Public Safety and Welfare Committee, Parks, City Plan Commission, and Community Focus. I’m on the County board, and I follow their issues. I’ve ridden with every shift of the Kenosha Police Department, Fire Department, and the County Sheriff’s Department. I’ve done dispatch center stints. I’ve supported expansion and know the operations. I’m a citizen that represents the city.” Alderperson Anthony Kennedy expressed his support. However, he did bring up the issue that was mentioned at the last Common Council meeting. “Why didn’t you list that you are a board member of the organization, ‘Citizens for Open and Honest Government’?” Modory’s reply was that he is not a dues-paying member of that group. He is an independent member. Kennedy then asked, “So you don’t see the need to list it?” Modory’s response was that he did not.
- The committee also discussed the dredging of the harbor. Ruffalo is putting a resolution on the agenda of next Monday’s Common Council meeting to dredge the harbor. “We can’t put slips in until we fix the harbor. It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’” he said. A Request for Proposal (RFP) is being sent out to address this issue. Alderperson Rocco LaMacchia agreed. “Now is the time for action. In order to have a viable downtown, we need a harbor. It’s four feet in some parts. We need to work on this now,” he said. Orth said that the money is there. “That’s the easy part. It needs to be on a schedule. Last time, we got it at a reduced price. There was already a Lake Michigan company already here, so we paid thirty percent less. Dredging is easy, but fixing the harbor is not. We need some federal money, which is not available. We need some congressional delegation help. The Army Corps of Engineers will need to give their approval to whatever work we have done. There are also DNR issues. We need a coming together of resources. It’s estimated that it will take between $1 million and $10 million to fix. We need federal support to rebuild the harbor, a creative solution.”
Chairman Jesse Downing stated that this was an important topic on the agenda of the Yacht Club forum which was held on Feb. 16. (Click here to see the summary of that meeting: Harbor Issues Discussed at Tonight’s Debate.) Downing stated that the Coast Guard wants to pull out. “It will take $100,000 for the Corps of Engineers to do a study. They will contribute $50,000, so we’ll need $50,000 to get it done. There is $225,000 in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to have the dredging done. It’s supposed to be done every two years, but it was not done last year. We can buy our own dredge for $90,000. If we put out a RFP, we’ll get the bids back in April, then we have to decide who. If that takes 15 to 30 days, and we then dredge it in June or July, it’s too late. The RFP needs to be put out now. Otherwise, we’ll lose tourism. We could go to the State and ask for a tourism grant. Waukegan received half a million dollars to dredge. We need to ‘think outside of the box.’”
Ruffalo agreed. “We need a permanent fix, and we need to work on the harbor itself. In its current state, it is a public safety issue. We could all stand in the harbor right now. It’s very shallow. Plus, there is a cyclone effect with the waves and the turbulence on the boats. We need to figure out how to fix this long term. Both are important issues. Doing nothing is doing something. And, that’s unacceptable.” Ruffalo said that he would add something to the resolution for Monday night’s agenda. It will also be placed on the Finance Committee’s agenda.
Also, the software upgrade for Joint Services was a discussion item on the agenda. Director of Joint Services, Tom Genthner, made a powerpoint presentation entitled “Public Safety Software (PSS) Project,” delineating the system the police officers are currently using. The Mobile Data System (MDS) is outdated; this is the system the officers use in their cars. “If it shuts down, it would be devastating. It’s a very complex, interrelated system. There are 7,100 applications included in the PSS. The Records Management System (RMS) and the Jail Management System (JMS) are two other large systems included in this project. There are thirteen million data elements, with 700,000 digital records. There were 201,751 calls for service last year. There is lots of activity. The Dispatch System contains many different modules, some of which are on different versions of the software. If we upgrade, we have to re-enter all of the customizations we’ve made to the system previously. Thirteen and one-half hours a day are spent stamping paperwork. Digital date stamping is the way to go. There are 16,000 pieces of evidence a year that have to be logged in and maintained. There are 10,000 to 11,000 in jail. The Data Pursuit application shuts down daily. IT then has to re-start it. It’s a real problem. If an officer doesn’t have field based reporting, it’s very inefficient. Sometimes it takes an hour for an officer to walk in his/her reports into the Safety Building. This is very inefficient.” These are just a few of the statistics Genthner mentioned.
The RFP, which consists of 200 pages of needs, will go out on March 9th. “Obviously, funding is going to be a huge issue.”