Spring 2014 Election

Two compete for Whitewater City Council seat

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Alison Bradley
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WHITEWATER—A retired UW-Whitewater program coordinator is challenging an incumbent for a Whitewater City Council seat.

Lynn Binnie is seeking re-election. Binnie has been District 4 alderman since 2008 and wants to continue balancing the need for student housing while preserving single-family neighborhoods.

Paul Yvarra, who also is running for the seat, said he has kept an eye on city politics for years and wants to support and create small businesses and develop affordable single-home housing.

The candidates answered the following questions:

Q: How important is the development and growth of downtown Whitewater to you? How would you address this?

Binnie: Downtown's vitality is important. I supported the $20,000 contribution to downtown Whitewater in the 2014 budget. Additionally, we provide in-kind support for events. The city can't do much more. As business owners support their organization and citizens patronize the businesses and donate to downtown Whitewater, progress will continue to be made.

Yvarra: Downtown development is crucial to a vibrant Whitewater. Unfortunately, one of the major tools for funding development in Whitewater is tax increment financing, which is declared stressed. TIF No. 4 helped subsidize a development cost for my opponent's employer. As my opponent and his employer did not meet their promises, this is one of the reasons for the distress classification. In January 2011, my opponent testified before the Community Development Authority for the distress designation. As a result, the developer's promises were not met. I would work to make sure that such promises would be kept.

Q: Both of you have mentioned preserving single-family neighborhoods while balancing student housing. How important is this to you, and how to you plan on addressing this?

Binnie: Preservation of single-family neighborhoods while balancing the need for student housing is extremely important. I am giving serious consideration to the proposed changes in the zoning code, which would potentially allow for areas of increased density. I have also voted for R-O zoning overlay requests.

Yvarra: I am a strong proponent of single-family homes in District 4. However, my opponent has voted numerous times for high density, multi-family housing on property directly adjacent to some of Whitewater's most desirable residential home sites. If I am elected, I will fight to make sure those properties are only developed for single-family homes. It is my contention that student housing should be developed in high-density areas close to campus.

Q: What is your point of view on taxes in Whitewater, and how do you plan to address taxes during your term?

Binnie: Our property tax rate is relatively low compared with other municipalities. Lowering taxes substantially could only be accomplished by significant downsizing of our staff, and most approaches we may use to generate new non-tax revenue will benefit utility rates, not tax relief. Nonetheless, we must always seek increased efficiencies.

Yvarra: As I have knocked on doors, I have yet to hear my neighbors tell me “my taxes are too low.” I will work to make sure the city spends only on needs as opposed to wants. However, if we work hard to bring in new positive development, not just growth for growth's sake, we will increase tax revenues through that growth.

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