January 20 – 26
Winter, Winter and more Winter!
If you are like me, shoveling has nearly become a part of your daily routine. From the City perspective, our snow removal crew has been plenty busy with their share of plowing, shoveling salting and sanding. Preliminary numbers show that 2013 may have been our most costly snow removal periods ever!
Many residents have shared with me recent reports highlighting innovative approaches in snow operations. Further, in an effort to consider more effective (and cost effective) melting operations, we too are studying cheese brine and beet juice solutions. I do not foresee the change in our process yet this year, but other methods will be considered in next year’s equipment budgeting.
State of the City
As a reminder, I will be delivering my 2nd and 2014 State of the City address this Wednesday, Jan. 29 at McMillan Library. Reception at 6:30 p.m. and remarks at 7 p.m. RSVP here. All are invited, and I hope to see you there.
City Council action
At last Tuesday’s city council meeting, the city council approved a second request to annex land at the corner of 8th and Whitrock. This annexation was then granted B-2 commercial zoning for development. The land formerly housed a single family home and has been vacant for years. With appropriate zoning and city annexation, it is prime for development. Miller Valentine Group has been working on an application for multi-family housing. While the development hasn’t formally been presented to the planning commission or council, the developer has been very transparent in their plans. The development will create jobs as they pledge to use local trades throughout construction. It will add tax base to the city and provide users to our water and sewer utility. I will provide more as the project develops.
The city council also approved two important positions. The first comes as a result of much feedback on the subject of effectiveness. The council approved a full-time ordinance control officer. Previously, the city had three part-time employees serving in ordinance control and recycling enforcement. As you can imagine, turnover was very high as individuals sought greater opportunities. The positions lacked continuity and consistency. The creation of one full-time position will allow for more effectiveness in dealing with chronic blight situations. The position will also assist in the Love your Block initiative successfully launched last year in Ward 1. The individual will work to solve situations beyond simply issuing citations, where resources will be recommended in areas where individuals couldn’t remedy otherwise.
The second position will serve a significant role inside city hall and have a connection outside. The Director of Innovation and Technology will be responsible for determining the IT needs of the city. Beyond the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the systems we use, the Director will strive to make City government more innovative, engaged, efficient and responsive with technology. By working with fellow Department Heads and other stakeholders such as educators and students in the community and reporting directly to the Mayor, the Director will champion new ideas and innovations. There is much potential for collaboration between the city and our residents and tech community. Cities that have prioritized this have experienced job creation as a result. I am thrilled that we are a community who recognizes the role technology can play and will now participate with employers such as Renaissance Learning, MSTC, and UWSP to further deliver on this.
The positions will be posted soon, and I am pleased the city council saw the vision for what could be achieved through their creation.
To review previous updates, please click here.
As always, I welcome your feedback.