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Waukesha's Common Council closes meeting to discuss water

Fire chief search, BID appointments also on agenda

Nov. 6, 2012

In light of the 2012 General Election, the Common Council will meet on a Thursday instead of its usual Tuesday night gathering.

The Council will meet in closed session to discuss the city's water negotiations.

According to the agenda, "a motion will be made to consider the Town of Waukesha's proposal relating to Waukesha's water service area, to discuss negotiations with Oak Creek concerning Waukesha's future water supply and to consider matters of collective bargaining."

The City of Waukesha began negotiations with the City of Oak Creek on a possible water deal about a year ago and, despite the Waukesha and Oak Creek common councils approving a letter of intent for a deal last month, Oak Creek water utilityofficials did not sign the document.

The City of Waukesha also negotiated with the City of Racine in the past year and was also interested in negotiating with the City of Milwaukee, but negotiations never materialized between the two. However, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett recently sent a letter to Mayor Jeff Scrima and former Council President Paul Ybarra noting the city's willingness to enter into negotiations if Waukesha accepts the terms of only distributing lake water to its current service area.

If the City of Waukesha is granted Lake Michigan water, the Town of Waukesha, in a letter by town officials, asked the city to pay 20 years worth of property taxes for any properties annexed by the city.

The City of Waukesha is under a 2018 deadline to have radium-compliant water.

In addition to the water talks, the Council will authorize the City's Police and Fire Commission to enter into a contract to conduct a search for a fire chief in an amount authorized by City Administrator Ed Henschel and within the limits of the budget for the Police and Fire Commission.

Assistant Fire Chief Steve Howard has been serving as the interim fire chief since the city's former fire chief Allen LaConte retired in March after serving in the department for almost 35 years. He had announced his retirement in November 2011.

The Police and Fire Commission selected Illinois-based Voorhees Associates as a search firm to help in the selection process shortly after LaConte's departure.

But the Finance Committee was split in an April vote and after the council was also split, Scrima broke the tie, voting against hiring a search firm.

Also on the agenda are new mayoral appointments for the downtown Waukesha Business Improvement District Board. The five are Roger Igielski, Jim Taylor, Bill Huelsman, Phil Lee and Kevin Larson.

Igielski (Allo! Chocolat) and Taylor (Taylors People's Park) both own downtown businesses and both were among the 11 board members who resigned following former BID Executive Director Meghan Sprager resigning citing a "hostile work environment" among BID board members.

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