Council reviews capital improvements

by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor

The Sheboygan Falls Common Council reviewed spending requests from each of the city’s departments for inclusion in the 2015-17 capital improvement budget, during a Finance and Personnel Committee meeting Tuesday, March 3, at the Sheboygan Falls Memorial Library.

The three-year capital improvement budget proposal included requests from four of the city’s five departments totaling $2,973,120.

The vast majority of the spending was requested by Department of Public Works Director Jerry Benzschawel, who submitted 53 project and item requests tallying $2,656,865.

Benzschawel, who was submitting his first capital improvement budget as DPW director, went through all 53 of his department’s requests, explaining the background and need for each.

The highest priced entry on the DPW request list was street resurfacing at a cost of $1.2 million.

“Street resurfacing is an ongoing need in the city and in past capital improvement budgets, we have budgeted $315,000 each year,” Benzschawel said. “Considering the need we have right now and the cost we are looking at, I decided it was important to bump that up to $400,000 each year over the next three years to cover the work that we need to get done on our streets.”

The second most expensive entry was $300,000 for sanitary repairs, televising and storm sewers.

“There is quite a bit of bad pipe out there and again this is ongoing work that needs to be done to keep our system at the standard it needs to be at,” Benzschawel said. “I have budgeted $100,000 each year for the next three years and that is not even scratching the surface of what we could be doing.”

Benzschawel also discussed the previously delayed Oak Street storm sewer project, which was included again in the capital improvement budget for completion in 207 at a cost of $297,000.

“The Oak Street storm sewer project has been in the capital improvement budget before, but was taken out,” Benzschawel said. “It has been something we have needed to take care of for quite some time and I put it back in for this budget.”

Benzschawel also discussed the need to replace the DPW’s 2003 Volvo wheel loader at a cost of $205,000 in 2016.

“We are up to 4,985 hours of use on that machine right now and it is recommended for replacement at around the 5,000 hour, 10-year mark,” Benzschawel said. “We are getting to the point were the maintenance bills will become a bigger issue due to the age and wear and tear that has accumulated over the years.”

Benzschawel also listed the Leavens Avenue storm sewer project for completion in 2015 at a cost of $100,000, as well as the federally-mandated retroreflectivity sign standard at a total price of $75,000.

“We are now in our third season of the retroreflectivity sign standard replacement project, which is federally-mandated so we have no choice but to do it on a regular schedule,” Benzschawel said. “I have requested $25,000 each year for the next three years to cover our needs in this area.”

There was also considerable discussion about the need to replace playground equipment at Rochester Park and the Woodview Mini Park at a cost of $20,000 for each park in 2015.

“We received an estimate of $17,000 to replace the playground equipment two years ago, so now I am estimating it to be $20,000, but that is not an exact price,” Benzschawel said. “I am open to suggestions from the council about what to do with this, the mini parks in particular.

“We’ve done safety studies and the old equipment that is at these parks doesn’t meet codes,” he said. “The equipment at Woodview is in particularly bad shape. It is to the point where it must be replaced or removed. I know the Park Board has had some discussions about pulling the equipment and filling it in with grass, but I don’t know exactly where they are with that now.”

Other items on the DPW request list include: Rochester Park ball diamond wiring/lights ($51,000, 2017), replace 2006 pickup truck/ plow/tailgate lift ($49,000, 2015), replace three 2007 JD Z-track lawn mowers ($36,525, 2016), asphalt resurfacing Rochester Park 1 parking lot ($35,000, 2016), liquid application for two salt trucks ($21,200, 2016 and 2017), Rochester Park ball diamond fence ($12,500, 2016), Sno-Plus tires for Case wheel loader ($12,000, 2017) and River Park brown pedestrian bridge inspection near City Hall ($11,800, 2015).

At the conclusion of his presentation, Mayor Randy Meyer advised Benzschawel of the need to replace DPW radios due to a recent change in the emergency radio system at the county level. He noted that the purchase of 31 DPW radios would need to be included in the capital improvement budget.

Sheboygan Falls Police Chief Steve Riffel submitted a capital improvement budget with six requests at a total cost of $122,700.

The most expensive item was the department’s annual squad car replacement program at a threeyear total cost of $72,000.

Also included in the SFPD budget is radio replacement for countywide project ($30,000, 2016), squad lights/consoles and prisoner seats ($12,000, 2015), Dodge Stratus repair ($3,100, 2015), video done-parks prevention program ($3,000, 2017) and computer-squad care processor ($2,600, 2016).

“The squad cars are an annual item, so if you take those out we are at $50,700,” Riffel said. “We took a lot of things out just out of consideration for the Municipal Building project and the upgrades at the new police station.”

The fire department capital improvement budget came in at $175,175.

The highest priced entry was 24 Scott Air Pak X-3 with PASS and cylinder at a cost of $115,680 in 2016.

“Our biggest expense for the fire department is the air paks that the firefighters use to breath in fires,” Riffel said. “The ones we have now are old and outdated.”

Other items listed on the fire department capital improvement budget are 24 Scott 2216 PSI cylinders ($17,400, 2017), 24 Scott Epic three-voice amps ($9,600, 2016), UniMac PPE and hose dryer ($7,695, 2015), technical rescue equipment ($6,100, 2015), 24 Scott AV-3000 face pieces ($6,000, 2016), FLIR K40 thermal imager $4,800, 2015), computers/ routers/displays/printer ($4,700, 2015) and one Scott RIT pak ($3,200, 2017).

The Municipal Court also submitted a request for a computer for $1,580 in 2015.

The Sheboygan Falls Memorial Library did not submit a capital improvement budget request.

After Mayor Randy Meyer noted that the budget would need to be decreased to $1.9 million in order to keep for there to be no residual tax impact, council members discussed the possibility of stretching out a loan over a longer period of time to keep from raising taxes.

In response, City-Clerk Treasurer Joel Tauschek recommended that the council consider taking the leftover amount from the 2012- 2014 capital improvement budget to pay for the 2015-17 requests, while refraining from extending the loan.

“There is $416,000 left from the last capital improvement budget that could be applied to the new one,” Tauschek said. “That would take you down to the $2.3 to $2.5 million dollar range.

“I wouldn’t never go out past five years for capital improvement,” he said. “I think that would cause more of a problem down the road to have that debt sitting out there over a long period of time.”

Alderman Randy Meyer recommended dropping the Woodview Mini Park playground equipment from the DPW budget, as well as looking into the possibility of shifting the Rochester Park ball diamond wiring and lights to from the DPW to the utility department.

Meyer suggested setting a dollar amount and allowing the department heads to adjust their budgets accordingly to meet figure.

“In the past we have set a number and given the department heads the opportunity to change their budgets accordingly,” Meyer said. “I wouldn’t want us to dictate to them what they need to do because they have a much better knowledge of the needs than any of us do because it is what they do everyday.

“I say $2.1 million is a good figure to shoot for,” he said. “I communicate with Jerry on this in the next few days because Baird would like to have the figures finalized to run the numbers by March 11th. If we need to hold a meeting next week to make final adjustments, we will do so.”

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