Bogdala’s motion again fails

Earlier tonight, the Common Council met at a special meeting to give their final approval on the 2013-2017 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and to adopt the 2013 city of Kenosha budget.  Alderperson David Bogdala again made a motion regarding the west side fire department station.

His motion was to remove $100,000 from the Redevelopment Authority (RA) property acquisition fund, taking it from $400,000 to $300,000, and to create a new line item for that amount for a study of Fire Department Stations # 2, # 6, and # 8.  Alderperson Daniel Prozanski asked the fire chief if Bogdala had ever approached him regarding doing a study on Fire Department Station # 8, and his reply was no.

Prozanski then questioned Fire Chief John Thomsen about an earlier study that was done five to six years ago.  He wanted to know if that study was still viable.  Thomsen stated that the Almont Study evaluated the location of all fire stations in Kenosha, and the result was that many would be moved, except for Fire Station # 4, which is located at 60th Street and 48th Avenue.  Thomsen said that the funds proposed by city administration for the 2008 CIP were removed and, subsequently, the project died.

Prozanski wanted to know if this study was still valid, and Thomsen said that, with some minor tweaks and refreshing, it should be.  Prozanski said that this was a complete study on the table which deserved consideration.  He suggested that the Public Safety & Welfare Committee take a look at it.  However, he said that he thought that taking funds from the Redevelopment Authority would be an unwise decision.  “There is a good study out there,” he said.

Alderperson Anthony Kennedy said that he would not be supporting the amendment.  “When Bogdala was the chairman of the Finance Committee, there was a systematic erosion of funding for the RA.  Urban blight has not gotten better.  I have a vision for Fire Station # 8; I believe in it.  I believe the citizens of that district will be served at an adequate proper time.  We should watch response times and, as long as they are within the accepted standards, it should be ok.  I don’t believe we should put money towards the Fire Station now at the expense of the RA.”

Bogdala came back with information on the amount of funds that the RA has at its disposal.  “They have $241,000 in a general acquisition fund, plus $742,000 on hand that they can tap into to complete the goals of that commission.  Taking out $100,000 leaves them with $742,000.  It doesn’t touch anything in the outlying years.  The fire station won’t be built in 2013.  The study was done in 2006.  If you support Fire Station # 8, vote it up.  The RA can still do the work that needs to be done.”  He also stated that he talked to the fire chief, the fire department, and the mayor about the west side site two years ago.  “We had a gentleman’s agreement to get it going.  I’m tired of waiting.”

Alderperson Steve Bostrom made comments on the Wilson Heights area.  “The property owners that are left are much stronger.  The only buyer for the homes is the city.  We will need more money to take out stronger owners that are left.  It’s not the building, it’s the level of housing standard.  If we raise the level of housing standard, then we’ll raise the level of the neighborhood.”

Alderperson Eric Haugaard, president of the Common Council, then had additional questions for the fire chief regarding response times.  Thomsen said that many factors go into response times, but that basically, the overall response time has remained flat from the previous four years.  He also stated that he hoped that response times would drop due to a new Opticon system, a traffic control device that would pre-empt all red lights to green, enabling them to move more quickly.  “This system, in addition to improvements to roadways to the west side, should lower the response times,” he said.

Haugaard wanted to know what the mean response time was.  “Even before we hop into the vehicle, there is a turn-out time of 60 seconds.  Then, between one minute and 90 seconds is added for dispatch to send the signal to the station once the alarm is received.  So, basically, that’s 1-1/2 to 2 minutes added on to the travel time.  The standard is 8 minutes 90% of the time.  Are we held to that?  No; it has not been adopted by the city of Kenosha.

Haugaard then asked if these runs were flagged or studied in any way, and Thomsen said that he analyzes the previous day’s runs every morning.  He asks for explanations if they fall outside of the time standard.  Thomsen said that they meet the standard many times.  The Almont Study showed that the Kenosha Fire Department met the needs of the citizens greater than 92% of the time.  Haugaard stated that that’s how he remembered it also.

Kennedy then made a statement to Bogdala.  He said, “You attempted yesterday to make this motion, and you got no support.  And, again, you are making this motion today.”  He asked Bogdala why he didn’t just add the $100,000 to the CIP instead of sabotaging it from another project; he said that he would support that.  Bogdala’s reply was because of fiscal responsibility, but Kennedy said that he didn’t think it was fiscally responsible to remove funds from another line item at this late date.

Bogdala didn’t think it was sabotaging by taking the amount available to the RA from $842,000 to $742,000.  “This would keep in line with the mayor’s goals.  It’s the responsible thing to do.”  He mentioned the number of people that have moved to the west side since 2006, over 1,000.  He just wanted to put the plan in place, not build the fire station today or tomorrow.  “I just want to give the tools, equipment, and facilities for the fire department personnel to do the best job they can.”

Haugaard wanted to know what it would take to update the study, and Thomsen said that they should be able to update the study for less than $100,000.  He stated, “I would be embarassed to come to you asking for more than that amount.”

The roll call vote on Bogdala’s motion failed, however, by a vote of 5 to 12.  Those voting against were Alderpersons G. John Ruffolo, Kevin Mathewson, Steve Bostrom, Jesse Downing, and David Bogdala.  The roll call vote on adopting the CIP was 16 to 1, with Mathewson being the sole dissenter.

The remainder of the agenda items, the adoption of the 2013 city of Kenosha budgets, making appropriations and levying 2012 property taxes, the resolution by the mayor to approve the 2013 budget and operating plan of the Kenosha Lakeshore Business Improvement District (BID), and to levy special assessments, and the resolution by the mayor to approve the table of organization of the city of Kenosha, to reclassify positions, to modify the compensation plans for non-represented, managerial, supervisory, and professional employees and limited term, seasonal, temporary, and part-time employees, and to modify employee benefits for both represented and non-represented employees, and to modify the job classifications for 2013, and the resolution by the mayor to establish storm water utility rates within the city of Kenosha, were all approved by a roll call vote of 12 to 5.  Those voting against were Ruffolo, Mathewson, Bostrom, Downing, and Bogdala.

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