Alder David Ahrens
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Ahrens’ Updates
April 2018: Assessments, Gravestones, Yardwaste and more
Is your home assessment unfairly high?
Many homeowners were stunned to see their new assessments this year. Some of the assessments were based on real increases in value and others.... well, not so much. If you think you are the latter group, there is recourse.
An "Open Book" inspection period is being held on business days between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from now through Wednesday, May 2 at the City Assessor's office. This period is set aside for property owners to discuss their assessments with Assessor's Office staff prior to completion of the assessment roll. The Assessor's Office is located on the first floor of the City-County Building.
Property owners who disagree with their assessment should contact the Assessor's Office to discuss it with assessment staff. If still not satisfied with their assessed value, owners may file a formal objection. The Board's first scheduled meeting is Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 1:30 PM. Owners must notify the Assessor's Office of their intent to object no later than 1:30 PM, Monday, May 7, 2018. In addition, an objection form obtained from the Assessor's Office must be completed and filed with the City Assessor's Office prior to or within the first two hours of the first meeting of the Board of Review.
The Board of Assessors will review all properly filed objections and make any necessary corrections or changes. Owners who disagree with the Board of Assessors' decision may proceed to a formal hearing before the Board of Review. Its function is to decide if the assessment is correct based on oral testimony and evidence presented by the property owner and the Assessor's Office staff. Board of Review decisions may be appealed to the Circuit Court.
You can contact the Assessor's Office at 266-2531. Look up property assessments for your home and area at https://www.cityofmadison.com/assessor/property/
Last year, Mayor Soglin ordered the removal of a plaque at the Camp Randall cemetery that praised Confederate soldiers as "unsung heroes".( While it was the right decision, he did it without the approval of the Landmarks or Parks Commission but that's another story.) Currently, there is a memorial that lists the names of the buried and a tribute to the local woman who cared for the graves for many years. There are also individual tombstones at each grave site but the names of the dead have become illegible on about half of the gravestones.
Some Alders proposed to remove the memorial (also called a "cenotaph" which is " a tomblike monument to someone buried elsewhere, especially one commemorating people who died in a war.") as well. The proposal was reviewed by the Landmarks Commission, which voted to leave the memorial as it is and add a plaque explaining why we happen to have a Confederate grave site and our collective ambivalence about it.
The Equal Opportunities Commission voted to remove the memorial (cenotaph) and leave it at that. Two weeks ago, the issue came to the Council and a large majority voted to remove the monument. I proposed an amendment that would have added a plaque with the names of the soldiers (as best as we can tell) and a short narrative describing why the monument was removed. My amendment failed by a vote of 5-13.
I share the sentiment of many of colleagues, who do not want preserve a beautiful marble monument in remembrance of those who died for the preservation of slavery and the destruction of the U.S. However, I think it is both a mistake to attempt to erase the memory of the individuals and the cause for which they died. In the words of someone, "It is important to remember, but not revere." Remembering does not imply reverence or even agreement.
Another Alder and I requested a reconsideration of the question. We'll have another go at it next Tuesday's Council meeting. Should be interesting!
Milwaukee Street Renovation:
Many community members attended an informative presentation by the Planning Divisio and then engaged in a discussion on the future of Milwaukee St. Planners shared a preliminary plan sketching out some possible uses for the land between Fair Oaks and Hwy 51. This is about 100 acres of land, much of it is farmland, wild areas, quarry, parking lots and under-used land.
The city expects that the population will grow by about 70,000 in the next 30 years. I was surprised to learn that those between 25-34 and 65-74 years old will be the largest age cohorts to grow. That means adding about 1,000 new apartments/houses each year because, without an increase in supply, rents and housing costs will go sky-high.
There will be additional community discussions towards the end of the summer. Until then you can learn more about the project at www.cityofmadison.com/MilwaukeeSt
One More Week of Yard Waste Pick-up:
For those of us who have put-off cleaning up our yards and getting the stuff to the curb (but not in the street!) we have a one-week reprieve.
An extra and final yard waste collection round for the spring of 2018 will begin on Monday, April 30. Residents should place their material to the curb before April 30 in order to ensure collection for the upcoming final round of the spring.the After this final pickup, residents will need to bring yard waste to a drop-off site until the start of the fall leaf collection season.
Before placing yard waste to the curb, go to www.cityofmadison.com/yardwaste and click the Pickup Schedule button. If your neighborhood is marked "Pickup Pending" place yard waste to the curb and crews will be around to collect it soon. If your neighborhood is marked "Season Over," take your waste to the drop-off site at 4602 Sycamore Ave. This site is open 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM seven days a week, and until 8:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Coffee with a Cop:
Officer Heather Dzick of Eastern District MPD and the Pinney Library have been hosting a get-together called, "Cofffee with a Cop" on the second Tuesday of the month at 10 AM. This is an informal hour to meet neighbors, discuss concerns about public safety or other issue. The next Coffee is on Tuesday, May 9th at 10 AM at Pinney. Hope to see you there.
New Common Council Officers:
Every year, the Council elects a President and Vice President. The President of the Council chairs the meetings when the Mayor is traveling and is a member of the Finance Committee.
The Council elected Ald. Samba Baldeh as President and Ald. Sheri Carter as Vice President. This would not otherwise be notable except for the fact that this is the first time a black Alder has been elected President of the Common Council. Ald. Baldeh is serving his second term and represents the northeast section of the city. Ald. Carter is also in her second term and represents a wide swath of the southside. She also has the distinction of being one of the two first black women elected council.
Ald. Baldeh immigrated to the US twenty years ago from the West African nation of The Gambia. (One of two nations with "The" as a prefix to their name.) He is now a Software Engineer at American Family Insurance, small business-owner and now Council President. Wow.
Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about City policies and services. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-1156.
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