Officials working through specifics of Bay capital plan

Board still pondering funding for laterals

Sept. 17, 2013

Whitefish Bay — Several key funding questions remain after the Village Board on Monday approved a preliminary 2014 capital improvement plan and budget.

The early version of the CIP, which likely won't be approved in full until early 2014, includes complete street reconstructions on the 4700 block of Hollywood Avenue, 4750 to 4900 Bartlett Avenue, and the 4800 and 4900 blocks of Larkin Street; a replacement of stormwater infrastructure from 500 to 1000 Hampton Avenue and sewer infrastructure from 300 to 1000 Hampton Avenue; an extension of stormwater infrastructure from Lancaster Avenue into Glendale; as well as a reconstruction of the Lake Drive and Silver Spring intersection and the yearly alley, sidewalk, and street improvement program.

The Hampton Avenue projects were added to the 2014 capital plan after the Village Board in July struck down a project that would have repaired sewer laterals connected to nearly 400 homes on the southern end of Whitefish Bay and will be paid for with funds borrowed for the lateral project, Village Engineer Dan Naze said.

Repairs now or later?

Still on the table is whether the village will pursue sewer lateral repairs in the streets undergoing reconstruction next year, and whether the village will begin assessing property owners for the installation of stormwater laterals meant to be connected to sump pumps.

"I don't think it's going to vary significantly with the exception of how we proceed with private property," Naze said of the capital plan going forward.

If the board decides to go forward with repairing the more worse for wear sewer laterals, the work would likely be paid for with funding from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District at no cost to homeowners, Naze said. He told trustees that they will have to make a decision on whether to pursue the lateral fixes by December or January.

Village engineers explained that while the village has been constructing stormwater laterals in recent years at no cost to homeowners, the village's policy since the 1990s has allowed for assessments. The preliminary capital plan approved Monday estimates a total of $256,000 in stormwater lateral assessments for property owners across Hollywood and Bartlett avenues as well as Larkin Street.

Pushing sump pumps

However, the decision on stormwater lateral assessments could segue into the wider conversations of encouraging residents to install sump pumps — which would reduce the amount of rainwater in the village's sewer system and lessen the chance of sewer backups during heavy rainstorms — and the village's policy on assessments in general.

"It seems like if we're trying to incentivize behavior, paying for the their (stormwater) lateral is an excellent way to get them to pay the extra money for a sump pump," Trustee Brenda Szumski said.

Village President Julie Siegel said that the lateral assessment discussion could prompt the Village Board to reconsider the village's policy on assessments in general.

"I think we all agree that we need to do the projects," Siegel said, "it's how to fund them."

Village Manager Patrick DeGrave said after the meeting that staff will be working with the village's financial adviser to chart the financial implications of whether assessments or the tax levy are used to fund capital projects.


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