Category Archives: City Services

On Crossing Guards

You may have seen that the South Milwaukee City Council voted last week to enter into a contract with a firm to handle school crossing guard duties.

I agree with that decision.

In working with Twin City Security Inc., we are joining communities like Cudahy, West Allis, Wauwatosa, Waukesha and Shorewood who have decided that the best way to deliver this service is by partnering with a third-party firm to do it.

For South Milwaukee, it was a difficult choice, but the right one as we continue to look for more efficient ways to deliver our services.

There are seven school crossing guards in all, and, until the new contract, all were hired and managed by the South Milwaukee Police Department. The city funds four of them. The school pays the city back for the services of the other three. Going forward, Twin City will supply the guards, removing the burden of managing the program from the police department.

The SMPD has long managed to do more with less. The numbers don’t lie — on a per-resident basis, we have the smallest department in the area. And we must manage those resources closely, ensuring the department is delivering on its core responsibilities in every way possible. Managing the crossing guard program took away from that.

Day-to-day oversight of the program — from hiring to firing to payroll to dealing with absences and the like — has proven more and more time-consuming. The program literally has taken patrol officers of the street; at times, officers have had to man crossing guard stations to fill in for guards away from work. That is not acceptable to me.

No one is saying crossing guards are unimportant. However, when balanced with the other duties our police department performs, we feel this is the right move, especially with contracted program costs being similar to our internal costs.

I want to thank all of our guards for their service.

I know some have become local institutions, and we are honoring one of them — Helga Allen, stationed near E.W. Luther for many years — during our police awards ceremony at our May 17 council meeting.

All have also been offered a chance to apply at Twin City, and I hope they do.


Filed under City Council, City Services, Police, Schools, South Milwaukee

Investing In High-Speed Connectivity

I am always happy to get behind technology that brings communities closer together — and helps make doing our jobs easier. The most recent example: South Milwaukee’s investment in fiber optic cable.

The city council voted unanimously on Tuesday to spend more than $90,000 to install underground fiber cable connecting the City Administration building with Oak Creek, and through that connection other communities who have already made this investment.

Future installations will connect South Milwaukee City Hall with our fire department, street department, library, water and wastewater facilities and, hopefully, our local schools, as we do our part to create a web of fiber connectivity across the county that will help us all work better together in sharing information and potentially services.

The added bandwidth will also make our jobs easier today.

Fiber is able to transmit data much faster over greater distances than traditional copper lines, and it enables faster download and connection speeds for things like video conferencing and data backup.

For our police department, the fiber connection will better support the upgraded countywide radio system coming online later this year, and our records management system, which is hosted through the West Allis Police Department.

In other words, it’s money well spent.


Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Cleaning Up Our Roadways, One Tree Stump At A Time

The city continues to invest in urban forestry.

This time, it’s in stump grinding and removal.

The South Milwaukee City Council last Tuesday approved spending around $20,000 for the grinding of 196 tree stumps in street right of way and restoration of those areas. That includes 116 stumps from trees removed by property owners prior to 2014 — when ordinance changes stepping up the city’s ownership of street trees went into effect — and another 80 from trees removed by the Street Department in 2014 and 2015.

Removing dead and diseased trees like this is part of our ongoing commitment to this service, and we have a long ways to go, both in tree removal and replanting. But we’re making progress.

Removal will continue for years. A quick drive around town shows just how many dead or dying trees we have in the right of way in South Milwaukee.

And we’re making progress toward replanting.

Year one of the Arbor Day program was a big success, and we’ll bring it back in 2016.

We have to do more. The Beautification Committee will help.

One of its top duties will be to assist in tree planting efforts, including advising on a community tree management program (per Tree City USA requirements), coordinating an Adopt a Tree program for area residents, leading the Arbor Day celebration, and helping secure private funding for city tree planting efforts.

Want to join the committee? There is still time to apply. Please do so this week here.


Filed under City Council, City Services, South Milwaukee, Urban Forestry

For A More Beautiful South Milwaukee

Beauty shot

Its mission is simple: Promote, encourage, and work to enhance the beauty of the City of South Milwaukee.

It’s also critical to our promising future.

Welcome to the new South Milwaukee Beautification Committee, which the city council unanimously endorsed at its meeting Tuesday night. The committee replaces the Streetscaping Committee, providing a broader approach to beautifying our city.

Its duties …

“Explore and help implement a variety of beautification efforts, working with applicable city departments, community organizations, and others to:

Promote and enhance natural, private and public areas in the city, including:

  • Central Business District plantings and other streetscaping efforts;
    • City welcome signs (in partnership with Garden Club);
    • Street medians;
    • City parks (Heritage Place, etc.); and
    • Other non-city public spaces as appropriate.
  • Assist in tree planting efforts, including advising on a community tree management program (per Tree City USA requirements), coordinating an Adopt a Tree program for area residents, leading on the city’s annual Arbor Day celebration, and helping secure private funding for city tree planting efforts;
  • Partner with existing groups, organizations, and events (Friends, Lions, Earth Day, etc.) to drive organized clean-up activities in South Milwaukee;
  • Develop and implement a landscape (resident and business) award program and other efforts to encourage residents and businesses to beautify their properties;
  • Educate and engage residents in other beautification projects as developed; and
  • Other programs that align with the mission (i.e., recommend locations for and requirements for community gardens; etc.).

Want to join this nine-member committee, and get your hands dirty when it comes to making our city a more beautiful place?  Learn more here. Apply for it, or any of volunteer boards and commissions, now here.

I have met so many people since I’ve been mayor who have a real passion for making South Milwaukee a more beautiful place. I join you in that passion. Here is your chance to help make that a reality.


Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Getting CPR Instructions When You Need Them Most

We’ve enhanced our dispatch service to save lives.

In an effort to increase cardiac arrest survival rates, South Milwaukee went live this week with dispatcher-assisted CPR instructions. We join several other area dispatch operations in offering this, in which certain callers to our 911 system will now be transferred to the Milwaukee County EMS Communications Center to deliver CPR instructions.

Learn more here, and here is an investigative report on how well the program has worked in Oregon.

I thank and congratulate our police and fire departments and dispatch crew for stepping up to be part of this program — and consider it another example of how we’re partnering to invest in our city services.

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Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Read All About It! Summer Reading In South Milwaukee

Summer reading

Update: One more opportunity for summer reading is the Bookmobile, a partnership between the South Milwaukee Library and School District. See a schedule here. The first stop is June 16 at South Milwaukee Little League.

There are some great things happening at the South Milwaukee Library these days, and their summer reading program is the latest example.

Check out the flyer above … and more details on the kids program, teen program and an events and activities calendar.

Keep our kids reading this summer!

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Filed under City Services, Library, South Milwaukee

Their Job: Saving Lives



It was an honor honoring our local firefighters and emergency medical services personnel on Tuesday night, as part of National Emergency Medical Services Week.

Making the city council meeting extra special: We welcomed back two of the people saved by our personnel as we honored them with letters of commendation. Really, really cool.

See their stories and the proclamation here … and congratulations to all of the award winners. Well done.

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Filed under City Services, Fire, South Milwaukee

Rolling Out Automated Garbage Collection

Update: Here is a Q&A document with more information.

I am happy to say we’re poised to roll out a new and more efficient approach to garbage collection.

What does this mean? Simply, we’ll soon be requiring all South Milwaukee properties to use city-provided tipper carts for their garbage. Without them, we won’t pick it up.

As I’ve written about, this approach is much more efficient than our current process. And it’s safer for our workers and will help us be a cleaner-looking city.

Here is the rollout plan …

  • May: Transition begins for those who have their garbage picked up on Thursdays.
  • This fall: Transition for Wednesday pickups.
  • 2016: Transition for Monday and Tuesday pickups.

Those impacted by the changes will receive a brochure in the mail with more details, as their transition date approaches. (Those with Thursday pickups should have already received it.)

Here is the brochure that was sent to those who have their trash picked up on Thursdays. From it …

What is it?

The City of South Milwaukee will be transitioning to a fully automated garbage collection system that solely uses tipper carts for collection. The city has been picking up garbage with a semi-automated process from cans, bags, and 95-gallon tipper carts for a number of years.

When will the transition take place?

The transition will begin with the Thursday garbage collection in May, 2015. Residents with collection on Wednesdays will be transitioned to the new automated system in the fall of 2015. Those with other collection days will transition to the new system in 2016.

How will it be implemented?

The city will provide a 95 gallon tipper cart to your property if you do not have one. Once the property has received a cart, the automated process will begin. Only garbage in the tipper cart will be picked up. The operator will not exit the truck to remove barriers or adjust the placement of the cart due to obstructions.

I’ll keep you posted as the rollout continues.

We appreciate your patience. There will surely be a few headaches with this, but our Street Department is working hard to make the transition as smooth as possible. Please be respectful as we make this important, and necessary, move.


Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Public Works Update: 13th Avenue, Clark Avenue, Oak Creek Bridge Repairs

We continue to invest in our infrastructure in South Milwaukee. Some of the early projects for 2015 …

  • At our meeting last Tuesday, the city council approved spending $97,535 to repave 13th Avenue between Milwaukee and Marquette Avenues. Work is expected to be complete by the end of June.
  • Also on Tuesday, the council voted to spent $139,157 to replace the fascia below the bridge over Oak Creek along Milwaukee Avenue. If you’ve drive north on 15th Avenue toward Milwaukee in recent years — as I’m sure you have — I’m sure you’ve seen the large hole in the fascia below the bridge on the east side of the creek. The city will replace it and the other three walls with decorative precast panels. Work is expected to be complete by early June.
  • We’re also advertising for bids for repaving Clark Avenue, 5th to 9th Avenues.

Learn more about our engineering projects here.

I’ll keep you posted on more projects as construction season begins in earnest soon.

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Filed under City Council, City Services, Construction, South Milwaukee

Making It Easier To Gather Your Feedback, Concerns

We want to hear what’s on your mind — and we’re making it easier to do so.

The city has added new digital citizen comment and property maintenance complaint forms to our website. Citizens can use these forms to provide comments or to seek action for a concern that they may have.

When a form is filled out online and submitted, an email is sent to city staff, with details passed on to the appropriate department. Check them out, and use them.

And here is our forms page on the city website.

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Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Snow Update: School In Session, No Garbage Pickup On Monday

A few updates on the storm …

  • The winter storm warning continues for a few more hours.
  • City crews were out all day Sunday working on snow removal. To aid in clean up on Monday, garbage collection will be suspended. Monday’s route will be rescheduled to Friday.
  • The South Milwaukee School District says on its Twitter account @SoMilwSchools that classes will be held as scheduled on Monday. The tweet from Sunday evening: “School is open tomorrow. Snow is projected to end tonight and it is predicted to be bright and sunny tomorrow.”

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Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee, Weather

Holiday Hours Reminder

Couple quick notes as Christmas and New Year’s approach …

  • City Hall and the South Milwaukee Library will be closed Wednesday, Dec. 24, and Thursday, Dec. 25. Please use the night drop located on the front of City Hall for payments.
  • For holiday trash and recycling, if your regular pickup is Wednesday, December 24, your rescheduled date is Friday, Dec. 26. Your recycling date is also Dec. 26. If your pickup would be Dec. 25, your reschedules dates are Saturday, Dec. 27.

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Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Tax Bills In The Mail This Week

Just a quick note that property tax bills are being mailed now and should arrive at South Milwaukee homes by the end of the week.

Tax bill information is also available on the city’s website here.

So, what will your tax bill look like? I’ll speak just for the city.

Learn more about our city budget from my previous post on the topic. From it …

  • The city tax levy is budgeted to fall 4.96% to just over $10 million, due primarily to the shift of fire hydrant maintenance fees from the property tax to a fee on property owners’ water bills. You can learn more about that decision here.
  • Tax rates are also decreasing, from $8.85 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2013 to $8.41 per $1,000 in 2014. This is the city tax rate only.

So, how and when do you pay your tax bill? You can pay in full by January 31, or in installments.

Check out the treasurer’s office web page here to learn more.

You can also contact the city treasurer’s office at 766-8048. And here are their holiday hours …

The Treasurer’s Office is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. with the exception of holidays.  Beginning February 9, 2015 office hours will change to 7:30 A.M. – 4:00 P.M. Our office will observe the following holiday schedule for December and January:

  •  Wednesday, December 24, 2014 – CLOSED
  • Thursday, December 25, 2014 – CLOSED
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – LIMITED HOURS (8:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. – Open for Tax Collections Only)
  • Thursday, January 1, 2015 – CLOSED

Please plan accordingly to make sure your tax payment is received on or before December 31 for income tax purposes. 


Filed under 2015 Budget, City Services, South Milwaukee

Wanted: Someone With A Passion For Economic Development

We’re putting renewed focus on economic development in 2015 and beyond — with the hiring of a single person to lead our efforts in attracting and retaining business, marketing our city and downtown redevelopment, among other duties.

Know someone who might be interested in being our new economic development coordinator?

Here is the job description. Apply here.

I’m excited to get this person on board as soon as possible. There’s lots of work to do!

I’ll still play a big role in economic development going forward — it’s a top priority for me as mayor and a passion — but it will be a huge help having someone inside City Hall (almost) every day driving these efforts.

It’s a big step forward for South Milwaukee.

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Filed under City Services, Development, Downtown, South Milwaukee

Leaf Collection Update: Wrapping Up For The Season

By the end of today, city crews will be done with loose leaf collection for the season.

Crews made last passes through the city in the last several weeks, including working overtime on Saturdays, to rid the streets of leaves.

Now, with winter fully here, leaf equipment is coming off the trucks by end of day today (after one last pass).

I thank our Street Department for their hard work on this — and thank you for your patience. As I’ve said, I expect we will continue to offer this service going forward, but we will also take a hard look at how we deliver it in 2015 and beyond.

And my ask will always be the same: If, when and where possible (and I realize it’s not possible for some residents) I strongly encourage residents to mulch. It’s better for the environment, better for your lawn, and, due to the inefficiency of collection, helps our budget, freeing up time and manpower to tackle more core services.


Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee