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
October News from Alder David Ahrens, District 15
Pinney Library: The Mayor has decided to stick to his original plan of delaying the construction of the Pinney Library until 2017. This means that it will not open until 2018. As I noted last month, many people from our community have contacted him about the importance of a 2017 opening but he has "budget priorities" and Pinney does not number among them.
In my discussion with the Board of Estimates I emphasized that a delay of the library would have very negative effects on the progress of Royster Corners. It will be difficult to attract retail and service stores along Cottage Grove/Dempsey if the library is delayed one year.
Putting the setback aside, the Friends of Pinney Library organized a wonderful Harvest Moon Party last week at the library. Music, a magic show that held the attention of about 30 two-to-six year olds for an hour (Wayne the Wizard), food, bingo, silent auction, etc transformed the library into a noisy, open space. The turnout of a hundred folks showed the strong support for our library wherever it is located.
Water bills: Madison Water Utility residential customers will see a new "conservation" rate on their bills beginning in mid-November.
Previously, residential customers paid a flat rate of $2.81 per 1,000 gallons. Under the new plan approved this week by the Public Service Commission, usage charges will vary depending on the amount of water used. The change makes Madison the largest city in Wisconsin to offer a water rate that rewards conservation.
The following rate tiers are place for residential customers (people living in single-family homes and duplexes):
Usage per billing month Cost per 1,000 gallons
First 3,000 Gallons / Month $2.84
Next 3,000 Gallons /Month $3.26
Next 3,000 Gallons / Month $3.60
Next 5,000 Gallons /Month $4.50
Over 14,000 Gallons / Month $5.07
Under the new plan, the water bill for an average residential customer (who uses about 4,000 gallons per month) will increase from $17.24 per month to $19.51, or 13 percent.
Madison Water Utility encourages customers to find out exactly how much water they're using by taking advantage of the utility's new online conservation tool. The tool lets people track their weekly, daily, even hourly water use online and set up usage threshold notification alerts.
New water rates are also going into effect for Madison Water Utility's multi-family, industrial, commercial and public authority customers. The overall increase in water revenues across the five customer classes (commercial, industrial, etc.) is 31%. The last time the Water Utility raised rates was more than four years ago, in May of 2011.
Judge Doyle Square and the Capital Budget: The City Council gave preliminary approval to the $100 million Judge Doyle Square Project. The purpose of the project is to build an office building for Exact Sciences, a biotech marketing firm and two parking garages- one public and one private. The two garages will total 1,250 parking spaces. (This is in addition to a new garage on the other side of the square with 650 spaces.)
We will give- not loan- the developer over $26 million and lend another $21 million on extraordinarily favorable terms. Even under the most favorable projections we will see little of it back. The average cost to every household in the city: About $320.
And what will we, the city residents, get for it? There will be a really big shiny building behind the current Municipal Building/Post Office and an immense parking garage that will replace the old Government East Ramp on Wilson St. The private section will cater to the tenants of Exact Sciences and siphon off customers from the public parking utility. This will result in higher rates for other parking utility customers.
Will there be new jobs? Probably few, if any. The company is now located at Research Park and will simply be moving its staff from the Westside to Downtown.
This enormous sum could have been used for many purposes- including- not raising the tax levy again to the maximum allowable rate. But it also could have moved the Pinney Library up one year, built the Midtown Police Station, subsidized more affordable housing and repaired miles of streets.
This is not the end of the story. I and a number of other Council members will continue to fight this incredible shift of city resources from our residents to two corporations- the developer, Bob Dunn (owner of the Edgewater) and Exact Sciences.
I am attaching an op-ed published in the State Journal last Sunday that more fully explains the problem associated with this unfair use of city funds.
Over the next two months the Council will work on the budget and other issues such as the Mayor's proposal to ban sitting on a city bench for more than an hour, body cameras for police, etc. I will cover these issues as they come up.
If you have any concerns about city services or issues please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-1156.
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