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Tax bills will be less taxing for most in West Allis

Dec. 08, 2011 4:24 p.m. | Property tax bills are on track to be mailed this weekend, so West Allis residents and businesses will soon see how the mix of tax levies and credits actually affect them.

The total 2012 combined tax rate for all six taxing units is $26.14 per $1,000 of assessed value. That tax rate is 3 cents per $1,000 of assessed value higher than this year, bringing the property tax tab up $4.50 for the owner of a home assessed at $150,000.

However, larger lottery and first dollar credits - which are a combined $9 higher for 2012 - will more than wipe out that increase. Because of the larger credits, all taxpayers with properties assessed at less than $300,000 will pay less. That $300,000 is the break-even point where the higher tax bill is $9 and the increased credits are $9.

In terms of percentage, tax rates for the city (up 1.5 percent) and Milwaukee County (up 0.7 percent) were offset by decreases from the schools, MATC and the state. The rate for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District stayed the same.

2 lanes reopened on I-94 near West Allis after closure because of crash

Oct. 03, 2015 4:43 p.m. | Two left lanes have reopened on eastbound Interstate 94 at S. 70th St. after a brief closure because of a crash, according to law enforcement.

The lanes' closure was initially estimated to last about an hour.

Updated week seven rankings of area prep football teams and players

Oct. 02, 2015 1:00 p.m. | Push for the playoffs is a detailed weekly breakdown of the teams and players in the Lake Country and suburban Milwaukee prep football scene.

Fight at West Allis Central leads to precautionary measures

Oct. 02, 2015 10:23 a.m. | A fight involving three students at West Allis Central High School Thursday afternoon triggered safety precautions in the building at the end of the school day, Principal Amy Van Deuren said.

The fight broke out after 1 p.m. Thursday at the school, 8516 W. Lincoln Ave., Van Deuren said. The school, along with police, handled the incident.

Students were put in what's called a classroom hold, which is when students stay in their classrooms. It's a technique also used in other situations, one example of which are medical emergencies. She also said students were released at the end of the day one floor at the time to ensure a "smooth end to the day."

An auto call was sent to parents and guardians letting them know about the altercation. According to the call, athletes were supervised at the school's field house until practices began and nonathletic co-curricular activities were canceled for the day.

Julie Frank of West Allis got the call about 3:45 p.m. Thursday letting her know that an altercation had occurred at her 17-year-old daughter's school.

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Initial Reaction Podcast: Is Aaron Rodgers really the best QB in football?

Oct. 01, 2015 11:00 a.m. | With a big battle looming for the Badgers, Iowa graduate J.P. Cadorin talks about the dangers the Hawkeyes present. Also, while Aaron Rodgers has been excellent, there is another quarterback who's been just as impressive. And could a prep football powerhouse be left out of the playoffs this year entirely?

Sendik's plans West Milwaukee supermarket

Sept. 30, 2015 9:41 a.m. | Sendik's Food Markets is pursuing plans to open a supermarket in West Milwaukee, the latest location for a local chain that has operated in more affluent communities.

Sendik's is proposing a 40,000-square-foot store for a vacant lot at 4200 W. Burnham St. That site, which borders S. Miller Park Way, is the former site of an ADM Milling Co. grain elevator, which closed in 2004 and was later demolished.

The new Sendik's would amount to a $12 million investment, according to information from the village. It would have an estimated 140 full- and part-time employees.

The Village Board and Community Development Authority, at a joint Monday night meeting, agreed to provide $2.1 million in village financing for the project, along with spending $400,000 on public improvements connected to the development, said Judy Johnson, the village's administrative assistant.

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Greenfield School Board to fill vacancy by appointment

Sept. 29, 2015 7:38 p.m. | The Greenfield School Board decided on Monday to appoint a candidate to fill the vacancy left by Len Cich who died Aug. 11.

The appointee will serve until the April election.

Those who would like to be considered for appointment must fill out an application and return it to the School District of Greenfield Administrative offices, 4850 S. 60th St., Attn: Ellen Krikelas, by 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 14.

Candidates will be invited to introduce themselves and provide a short presentation to the school board at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21. Candidates may be asked questions by the board.

Afterward, the school board will conduct the selection process and vote in open session.

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More known about $6.4 million overrun at West Allis-West Milwaukee

Sept. 28, 2015 7:33 p.m. | West Allis — More information is now available on where the $6.4 million in spending overruns happened during the past school year in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, but there is still no determination about how the overspending happened.

Administrators also said that the overruns could result in staff cuts, as the district struggles to build up its emergency surpluses that were virtually wiped out as they were needed to make up for the budget shortfall.

Despite the budget difficulties, the proposed 2015-16 school budget anticipates a slight property tax cut, although that will not be confirmed until state aid and other factors are known.

Andrew Chromy, director of business services, said overruns happened in teacher pay and benefits, maintenance, tuition reimbursements, textbook purchases, short-term borrowing, debt payments and operational funds. Chromy became director last October, months after the 2014-15 school budget was prepared.

Coming up with actual dollars to pay for the higher than expected expenses has put a strain on this year's $129 million proposed school budget. Although it started $4.1 million in the red, several cost-cutting measures should result in cutting that down to $3.3 million, Chromy said. Close oversight of spending should enable the district to end the year in the black, he said.

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West Allis drowning in traffic avoiding Zoo Interchange construction

Sept. 25, 2015 1:15 p.m. | West Allis — As drivers seek to avoid traffic tie-ups in the Zoo Interchange construction zones, West Allis has been deluged with more traffic than its roads can handle, Michael Lewis, West Allis department of public works director, said.

"We have too many cars for too few roadways," he said.

Complaints have been coming in, but Lewis said, "We are aware that traffic patterns are totally messed up."

The last straw for him and probably for many drivers came one day last week when Interstate 94 was closed temporarily. Traffic backups in West Allis were horrendous, he said.

"It was beyond backed up, it was hopeless," Lewis said.

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Amphitheater plan in Greenfield moves along with help of impact fees

Sept. 24, 2015 3:18 p.m. | To keep the vision of an amphitheater on Konkel Park moving, the city will use $200,000 of park impact fees developers pay to get the park ready for the donated amphitheater.

Officials don't expect to need nearly that much, but four volleyball courts have to be moved to make room for the amphitheater that officials want to place near the farmers market. Other expenses include updating electrical services and preparing other infrastructure for a future shelter with restrooms and probably a playground. The volleyball courts, future shelter and playground would be on the east side of the park at 5151 W. Layton Ave.

The shelter would be similar to the existing shelter at the south end of the park.

The ROS Foundation contributed $150,000 for the amphitheater. Because the city had not budgeted for the collateral park improvements, the impact fees will be used as a temporary measure. The fees are paid by developers to help provide parks for the additional residents their developments bring. The city also is exploring possibilities of using Community Development Block Grant money for the improvements.

Attendant to oversee Greenfield solid waste drop-off site

Sept. 24, 2015 2:48 p.m. | Greenfield residents headed to the city's sold waste drop-off site may soon see an attendant there to check that they actually live in Greenfield and that they are not contractors dropping off construction waste.

City officials suspect that contractors, whether they live in Greenfield or not, are dumping their business refuse at the Greenfield site. The problem also could come from nonresidents, they said.

"We are generating a lot of refuse — more than for a community our size," said Rick Sokol, director of neighborhood services. The city pays to dispose of the waste.

The attendant will be hired part-time.

The site at 4551 S. 52nd St. has open hours for drop-offs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Police seek help to identify 3 people involved in Greenfield burglary

Sept. 24, 2015 11:58 a.m. | Greenfield police are seeking help from the public in identifying three people involved in an armed residential burglary Tuesday morning.

According to a release from the Greenfield Police Department, the first suspect entered a home near S. 35th St. and W. Layton Ave. about 11:30 a.m. through a second story window. He was caught on camera carrying a semi-automatic handgun, unlocking the front door, and letting in the other two suspects. Items stolen include firearms, jewelry and electronics.

The first suspect is described as a thin black male, about 5 feet, nine inches tall, in his late teens to early 20s. The second suspect is a black male in his 20s, 6-feet-2, with a medium build and medium-length dread locks. The third suspect is described as a thin black male in his 20s, 6-feet-2, with a medium build and short hair.

Security camera footage is posted on the department's Facebook page.

Police ask that anyone with information about the case call (414) 761-5345 or anonymously call WeTIP at 800-78-CRIME.

Dec. 7 deadline set for pot-bellied pig to be out of West Allis

Sept. 22, 2015 2:44 p.m. | A West Allis family has been given until Dec. 7 to either find a new home for its pot-bellied pig or move out of West Allis that views pot-bellied pigs as farm animals, not pets.

The common council on Sept. 1 declined to make an exception to its ban on farm animals for pot-bellied pigs.

The family had requested the change after moving into the city from the Southwest not knowing that pot-bellied pigs are regarded as farm animals. Stephen and Cheryl Colgrove told aldermen that their Piggy is just like a dog, only quieter and that she is a beloved member of the family. Neighbors also came to Piggy's defense before the council.

But aldermen said not all pig-owners would be as conscientious as the Colgroves and then the neighbors and the city would have a problem, that the pigs could be as large as 300 pounds and that it would be hard to enforce an ordinance allowing some pot-bellied pigs because city staff is not trained to distinguish between pot-bellied pigs and other breeds of pigs.

Little interest in hearing on West Allis-West Milwaukee 'red' budget

Sept. 22, 2015 9:18 a.m. | Only one person came to the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District annual budget hearing Monday, but did not speak after presentation of the budget that started the school year $4.5 million in the red.

Business Services Manager Andrew Chromy said he expects several cost-saving measures including closing the Classroom Café and cutting school and departmental budgets by 5 percent will knock that overage down to $3.3 million. The rest will have to be made up by extremely tight oversight on spending, a virtual moratorium on capital spending and possibly a moratorium on buying more supplies, he said.

The proposed property tax levy on the $129.4 million budget for the 2015-16 school year is down an estimated 0.42 percent. The final levy will not be known until state aid numbers and other crucial factors are finalized in October. That's when the school board will approve a levy and the final budget.

Tax levy down in projected school budget

Sept. 18, 2015 5:08 p.m. | West Allis — A budget where expenditures are expected to outrun revenue by $4.5 million and where there is virtually no surplus to fall back on, will be presented at the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District budget hearing Monday, Sept. 21.

The 6 p.m. hearing will be at the district administration building, 1205 S. 70th St.

The property tax levy is estimated at 0.42 percent less than the 2014-15 levy. The major portion of the school budget is controlled by state revenue caps.

The schools are so strapped for money that four buildings, including the district offices, are for sale. School officials hope to close on the sale of the former Roosevelt Elementary School, 932 S. 60th St., this month for $800,000. The proceeds would make it unnecessary to impose a strict purchasing moratorium, said Andrew Chromy, director of business services.

Besides Roosevelt and the district office building, the properties for sale are the former school administration building at 9333 W. Lincoln Ave. and the former Parkway Elementary School that now serves as a cluster site for all-day kindergarten for 4-year-olds and where some West Allis-West Milwaukee recreation department programs are held.

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Ditch won't stop $150 million proposed commercial, residential project in Greenfield

Sept. 17, 2015 4:53 p.m. | Greenfield — A ditch that threatened to block a proposed $150 million shopping, hotel, residential and office development in Greenfield may not have as serious an impact as originally feared.

The ditch that is dry much of the year meanders through the center of the project along Layton Avenue from 84th to 92nd streets and north to Interstate 894. The state Department of Natural Resources said in July that it might be navigable and so would be protected under state law. The developer would not have been able to work around a ditch that went through the middle of the proposed project, Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke said.

However, the DNR has now determined that only the northern end closest to I-894 is navigable.

"The development can work its way around that," Neitzke said.

The southern end is still a problem, however, as the DNR has deemed that to be a wetland. Although wetlands also are protected, there are options of replacing the wetlands, he said.

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