Janesville parking ticket prices could jump after city council vote

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Saturday, November 5, 2011
— Some parking tickets would more than double and others would triple based on a tentative vote by the Janesville City Council at its final city budget study session Thursday.

Two public hearings on the budget are scheduled at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, and Monday, Nov. 28, at City Hall, 18 S. Jackson St. The council is expected to vote on the budget Nov. 28.

Council members on Thursday made these tentative decisions:

-- Increased parking fees. Council members more than doubled fees for infractions that endanger health and safety. For instance, parking on the street during snow emergencies will increase to $20 and parking within 10 feet of fire hydrants will rise to $50.

Fines for parking in handicapped stalls will triple, going from $40 to $120.

All other parking violations would jump by 50 percent. For example, overtime parking would go from $10 to $15.

According to council members, fines were raised to increase compliance, not raise revenue.

-- Deleted $10,000 from the budget to plant trees. That money will instead go toward paying parks workers overtime to clean rented pavilions on weekends.

Now, one employee works two to three hours Saturdays and again Sundays to empty trash and clean pavilion bathrooms at a cost of $20,000 annually.

It was suggested that Saturday work be done on Fridays during regular hours to avoid overtime. People who rent facilities on Saturdays then would be expected to clean up anything that occurred overnight.

Now, workers don’t work outside regular hours without overtime because of union contracts. Workers are paid time-and-a-half on Saturdays and double-time on Sundays. For example, a worker paid an average salary would earn $50 an hour to clean restrooms and empty trash on Sundays.

Councilman Tom McDonald said pavilions should be clean for those who rent them.

“Next year, when the contracts are up, we can work on getting people scheduled on a weekend at normal pay as opposed to overtime pay,” he said.

-- Kept open the positions of two police officers, saving $115,383, and the position of deputy fire chief, saving $123,653.

The community development director’s position also is being left vacant, saving $64,409. That number is low because the council planned to replace the director in the middle of last year, so it had only budgeted half a year’s salary.

The budget also delays hiring a recreation director until April, saving $16,139.

In the last three years, City Manager Eric Levitt said the city has saved $600,000 because of administrative positions that have been eliminated or left open.

-- Retained a water rate increase of 21 percent, meaning the water cost for the average residential quarterly bill would increase $8.80. Officials say the increase is needed to pay off debt for capital projects such as a new water tower and maintenance. The utility also sold less water due to conservation efforts and the closing of General Motors.

Councilman Yuri Rashkin on Thursday continued to protest the increase, saying he felt powerless to lower it at this point.

When staff presented a list of potential capital projects for next year, Rashkin asked which ones would drive future water rate increases. He said he didn’t recall staff telling the council that a certain water project would result in rate increases later on. He asked that information be included when future projects are presented so council members aren’t surprised.

Assistant City Manager Jay Winzenz said Janesville is similar to other cities in being faced with maintaining an aging water infrastructure.

“It’s an investment,” Councilman Russ Steeber said. “If we neglect it, it’s only going to cost us more later on.”

McDonald said one reason for the large increase is too much borrowing. He has repeatedly suggested the council do without and cut down on borrowing, moving toward a “pay as you go” system.

-- Approved an increase of a quarter—from $2 to $2.25—for youth to swim at Rockport Pool.

Last updated: 6:58 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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