New August 16, 2011

BD School District Taxes Likely to be Lower

8/16/11 – Property owners in the Beaver Dam School District could see their tax rate drop by more than a dollar under the 2011-2012 budget presented last night. The school board held their annual budget hearing and were told the total budget is down about $7-million to $46.9-million and the tax levy is nearly $2-million lower at $13.8-million. Those numbers would result in a $1.01 reduction in the tax rate from last year to $8.94 per $1,000 of assessed value. That means a resident whose property is worth $100,000 would pay $894 for the school portion of their tax bill. Officials say the numbers won’t be finalized until property values and enrollment numbers come in later this year.

School Street To Become Jacob Gassen’s Way

8/16/11 – A soldier from Beaver Dam, killed last year while fighting in Afghanistan, will have a street named after him. The council Monday night approved the renaming of School Street, from Prospect Avenue to Gould Street, as Jacob Gassen’s Way. A lone gunman from Afghanistan’s Border Police shot and killed six Army soldiers last November. The 21-year-old Army Private was among the 101st Airborne Division members from Fort Campbell Kentucky who died in the attack. A public dedication ceremony with the family is tentatively scheduled for August 31. Gassen, a 2008 Beaver Dam High School Graduate, is the third person from the city to have died while fighting in the Middle East.

Layoffs Mentioned In Beaver Dam Budget Talks

8/16/11 – City officials in Beaver Dam are only in the early stages of 2012 budget planning and already layoffs are being discussed. Director of Administration John Somers told the Administrative Committee last night that the city already knows the impact of reductions in shared revenues, road aid and recycling grants and the amount that will be offset by changes in collective bargaining. That leaves the city with a $220,000 deficit. However, because of new construction, the city will be able to increase its revenue cap by $106,000. Just the same, Administrative Committee Chair Don Neuert says it’s not good to start the budget process with $114,000 in red ink and if push comes to shove, layoffs will be on the table. The committee will be asking members of AFSCME, the union that represents municipal workers, to re-open the current contract with hopes of reducing pay raises that have already been agreed upon. Neuert says that is unlikely, though, as changing the contract would make city workers immediately subject to recent statewide changes in collective bargaining. City officials, meanwhile, will next outline budgetary guidelines with department heads before putting pencil to paper and starting work in earnest on the 2012 budget.

Council Reviews Municipal Building Renovation

8/16/11 – The Beaver Dam Common Council got its first look at costs and floor plans for the space in the Municipal Building that will soon be vacated by the Police Department. The Fire Department would be utilizing most of the 7100 square feet and plans call for the addition of classrooms, meeting rooms, offices and storage space. The public would find the department’s reception area move into the current city hall lobby. While there would not be much structural change in the existing fire station, the kitchen needs to be updated and living quarters would be modernized to accommodate both male and female personnel. The city hired Bray Architects at a cost of $35,000 draw up the designs. They say the complete two-story interior renovation would cost over $700,000, not counting needed upgrades in heating, cooling and electrical. Renovation of just the first floor could be done for just over $500,000 dollars. A half million dollars in borrowing had been in the city’s Capital Improvements Plan but was eliminated in a cost-saving move earlier this year. City officials asked the planning team to draw up plans with a price tag closer to a quarter million dollars, though that amount is considered a place holder. The architects told the council last night that they could plan the project in phases based solely on a preferred cost or on the renovations that are wanted.

Council Reverses Decision On Secondhand Jewelry License

8/16/11 – Three months after denying the application, the Beaver Dam Common Council Monday night approved a request to renew a Secondhand Jewelry License for an Illinois company that periodically sets up shop in a local hotel. Before the vote in May, Alderman Robert Ballweg

suggested there is no way to guarantee that THR & Associates would hold jewelry purchased at the Best Western for 21 days as required by state statute, and eight other alderpersons wound up agreeing with him. This time in filing his application, Jeffrey Parsons provided a copy of a lease from a local storage unit where the second-hand jewelry would be housed in accordance with state statute. In committee, Beaver Dam Police Lt. Joel Kiesow said THR & Associates has had an excellent reputation and has traditionally gone above in beyond in reporting item purchases on a daily basis, something he noted even local bricks-and-mortar businesses did not do. Alderman Ballweg again spoke against the application approval last night on the grounds that THR & Associates is a transient vendor competing with several local and regional businesses. The vote was 8 to 4.

BD School Board Hires Company to do Feasibility Study

8/16/11 – The Beaver Dam School Board approved the hiring of Plunkett and Raysich Architects last night to perform a feasibility on the districts buildings at a cost of not more than $10,500. There has been talk in recent years of possibly closing the two rural elementary schools, Trenton and South Beaver Dam. And officials say the study would delve into that without targeting specific schools. The boards planning committee received 14 proposals from prospective companies for the study and interviewed five of them. Committee Chari Bev Beal-Loeck says Plunkett and Raysich stood out on a number of items, including their experience with school districts. Beal-Loeck says they hope to get the results of the study before the end of the year.

Highway 151 Down To Two Lanes

8/16/11 – Highway 151 is a two-lane highway starting this week (Monday). The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says the highway has one lane going in each direction between County Highway G and County Highway D-E. All ramps for County Highway G will remain open, while all other ramps in the project area, and the south end of County D, are closed. The posted detour has motorists utilizing Highway 73 and County Highway D. Iron Road and Jackson Road are closed with no detour. Single lane closures north of County Highway G to Highway 33 will continue until the median crossovers are completed on or around August 26. The D-O-T says the work is part of a two-year, $21.7-million rebuilding of a 3.5-mile stretch of the highway.

Special Prosecutor Named In Prosser V. Bradley

8/16/11 – The chief prosecutor in Sauk County will decide whether criminal charges will be filed in a reported physical altercation between State Supreme Court Justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley. Dane County’s chief judge, William Foust, named Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett today as a special prosecutor. Sheriff’s investigators referred the matter to Dane County D-A Ismael Ozanne late last month without recommending charges. Ozanne then asked for the special prosecutor, saying he didn’t want people to assume that politics would play a role in the decision on charges. Bradley has said that fellow justice Prosser put her in a choke-hold in her office on June 13th, but other reports said Bradley merely put up her fists and Prosser moved them aside. The incident was said to happen the night before the Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold the law that limits collective bargaining by most public employee unions. Ozanne had asked a circuit judge to strike down the law, but the Supreme Court later ruled against the D-A in a sharply-divided 4-to-3 decision.

WEAC Hands Out Pink Slips

8/16/11 – Wisconsin’s largest teachers’ union plans to lay off 40-percent of its staff members. Director Dan Burkhalter of the Wisconsin Education Association Council said Monday that 42 people who work for the union had received layoff notices. And he blamed it on what he called Governor Scott Walker’s “union-busting” legislation. The law allows teachers in districts without ongoing contracts to bargain only for salaries at-or-below inflation. Employees no longer have to pay union dues, and most public unions must hold certification votes each year to stay in existence. Burkhalter says WEAC is busy signing up members to stay with the group and voluntarily pay dues. He said the teachers’ union has made quote, “steady progress in signing up members” – and they expect even more progress once the school year begins in a couple weeks. Burkhalter said his union’s goal is to be a “strong and viable” organization that represents the voices of public school employees throughout the state. Local teachers’ unions in about 275 Wisconsin districts had their contracts expire at the end of June – and they’re operating under the

new state law. Contracts in about 150 other districts were extended for another year-or-two – and they’ll stay in effect until they expire.

Wisconsin Property Values Down 1.8%

8/16/11 – Property values in Wisconsin fell by an average of one-point-eight percent last year – but the decline was only half of what it was the previous year. State revenue officials say that homes, businesses, and other properties had a total statewide value of 487-billion-dollars in 2010. The decline was about one-point-three percent less than it was in 2009. Last year’s drop in residential values was about the same in Wisconsin as it was nationally – around one-point-six percent. Last year was the third straight time that land values had fallen throughout the Badger State. Before then, property values had risen every year but one since 1959.

State Fair Attendance, Spending Up

8/16/11 – Attendance at the Wisconsin State Fair was up four-percent from a year ago, despite an opening night of violence which sparked fears that people would stay away. The 11-day fair ended Sunday in West Allis. Officials say 911-thousand people attended – and they spent more than last year. An initial review showed that the fair’s revenues were almost six-percent higher than in 2010. Thirty-one people were arrested at the State Fair’s opening night on August fourth, as groups of young people attacked victims both on the grounds and the nearby streets. West Allis Police confirmed that race was a factor in at least some of the attacks – confirming witnesses’ comments that young African-Americans had attacked whites. There were no reports of similar mass violence on the fair’s 10 succeeding nights. The C-E-O of State Fair Park, Rick Frenette, said he appreciated the extra help provided by local police and the State Patrol.

Woman Charged With Smuggling Watch Parts Into WCI

8/16/11 – A Big Bend woman is looking at time for trying to smuggle parts of a wristwatch into the Waupun Correctional Institution. Patricia Kolinski is charged with one felony count of Delivering Illegal Articles to an Inmate, which carries a maximum sentence of three-and-a-half years in prison, upon conviction. Authorities say the 68-year-old brought her inmate son seven wrist-watch links and two batteries. The criminal complaint did not state the inmates exact intentions for the parts. A signature bond was set at $1000 yesterday and a preliminary hearing is on the calendar in October.

Teen Pleads Guilty To Burglarizing Uncles House

8/16/11 – A Beaver Dam teen will spend two years in prison for stealing from a family member’s house. Andrew Dutzle pleaded “guilty” to felony Burglary during his initial appearance on the charge yesterday and had a misdemeanor Theft count dismissed but read into the record. According to the criminal complaint, the 19-year-old broke into his uncle’s home in Mayville in June and stole an Xbox 360, games and related accessories. He originally told police he saw three men leaving the residence with a black duffle bag. Investigators were curious why the Beaver Dam teen was in Mayville at the exact time the crime was committed. He later confessed to avoid an innocent friend taking the rap and wrote his uncle an apology letter. Dutzle was on probation for a previous burglary in Mayville at the time of his arrest. He was ordered to serve the new two-year prison sentence concurrent with the previous two-year prison sentence which was imposed after his probation was revoked.