By Al Stanek
Whitewater Banner volunteer staff
New Whitewater Common Council member Lisa Dawsey Smith was sworn in at the April 20 Whitewater Common Council meeting along with newly re-elected council members Carol McCormick and Brienne Diebolt Brown, as well as Greg Majkrzak, who was appointed to fill an unexpired term last year.
The Common Council also elected officers, appointed Council members and citizens to fill vacancies on various City Committees and Commissions and made plans to offer a “hybrid” option for public meeting participants as early as this June. City meetings have been held electronically since last March as part of COVID-19 pandemic protocols. The hybrid option would allow individuals, either committee members or observers, to chose between attendance in person or electronically.
Fourth District Council Member Lynn Binnie was unanimously re-elected as Council President. Council Member-At-Large Jim Allen was elected to serve as Common Council President in Binnie’s absence. New Neighborhood Services Director Chris Bennett and newly appointed Imbedded Police Crisis Intervention Officer Amanda Akridge were welcomed. Akridge, a social worker who previously worked as a Milwaukee Police Officer, will be working full-time to assist Whitewater Police under a program initiated and funded by Walworth County to measure the impact of having a more “human services” approach to policing.
In other business the Common Council took official action to close the last of its existing Tax Incremental Finance Districts (TIDs), authorized a consulting contract to manage an $859,366 grant that will partially fund construction of a new water tower, and laid out a schedule for potential formulation of new TIDs which will include an early May joint meeting of the Common Council, Community Development Authority and City Plan Commission.
TIDS are a commonly used economic development strategy that allows municipalities to fund infrastructure and other improvements with the property tax revenue generated by future development within their boundaries. The City of Whitewater has been prevented from creating new TIDs because of the existence of multiple TIDS created, but not closed, over a 20+ year period. The City plans an aggressive public outreach effort over the next several months to gain the understanding and support of citizens and other stakeholders as potential new TIDs are developed.