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Taxing dilemma: Should there be a referendum on new arena?

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Milwaukee County Board met on Thursday, April 24th to decide if there should be a referendum so voters can decide if they want to pay for a new arena.

“That was the buzz. I think a building could have fallen over and nobody would have noticed because everybody was talking about the sale of that team,” said Milwaukee County Supervisor, Deanna Alexander.

The Board spent the morning debating whether to keep a referendum asking residents if they’d support a new arena tax, or send it back to committee for changes.

“I do have a problem with sending it back to committee,” said Milwaukee County Supervisor, David Cullen.

Employee Retirement System error costs around $12 million

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — A $12 million dollar mistake in the Employee Retirement System (ERS) impacts some Milwaukee County workers.

At least 200 county workers were allowed to purchase time toward extending their retirement pensions, even though a unanimous vote by the County Board stopped the buy-back program back in 2007.

“I found out two weeks ago. I’m going to work to recover every dime and I want to find out how this happened,” said Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Abele.

The major error was noticed by ERS two weeks ago when a county worker began his retirement process.

“The department gave incorrect information to county employees,” said Abele.

Letters are going out to retirees or current employees who are impacted.

“It looks like, in the last five years, in the ballpark of about $12 million we have paid beyond what we need to,” said Abele.

What’s changed with how sexual assaults are investigated?

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Things look a little casual at Milwaukee City Hall on Wednesday, April 23rd. But the reason behind all the denim is anything but casual.

“We are wearing denim because of the international movement called Denim Day,” said Dawn Helmrich, Denim Day organizer. “Due to a woman in Italy who was raped by her driving instructor. And when she took the case court to the highest judge overturned the case, saying that because she was wearing very tight jeans, and she had to remove them, it made it consensual sex.”

In protest, jeans were worn on Wednesday.

Four years ago, Helmrich brought Denim Day to Milwaukee. Sharing her own survivor story and organizing this day are just a few reasons why Milwaukee awarded Helmrich with a special honor.

Barrett: “We disagree” with Commission’s ruling on streetcar

MILWAUKEE (WITI) – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has ruled the city of Milwaukee cannot make utility companies pay to move underground lines for the proposed downtown streetcar system.

The ruling, if it stands, would force the city to approve more money to pay for the project.

Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works commissioner told the Milwaukee Business Journal he estimates the city will need to find $20 million more to move the private underground utilities if this project is to move forward — though that estimate is not definite.

The Milwaukee Business Journal says much of the Public Service Commission’s decision is based on an item the Wisconsin Legislature included in the budget it approved last year.

That item prohibits Milwaukee from forcing private utility companies and their ratepayers to pay utility relocation costs for the streetcar.

The city is likely to appeal the PSC decision in court.

If El Niño returns, what does it mean for us?

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — It’s probably the catchiest term in the meteorologist’s lexicon, El Niño. This global phenomena may not directly cause weather extremes in our corner of the world, but it certainly can tip the scales in favor of them.

So what is El Niño and when will we see it again? In some years, warmer than normal water pools in the eastern Pacific Ocean near South America while normal water temps remain near Indonesia and Australia. This is an El Niño event. A La Niña event is nearly opposite with warmer waters in the west (Indonesia) and cooler waters in the east (South America).

The greatest affects of El Niño are generally felt in winter. That’s when NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center believes it could return with full force. The most recent monthly forecast from the CPC states “chances of El Niño increase during the remainder of the year, exceeding 50% by summer.”

Marquette team wins $53,000 at international business plan competition

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- FocalCast, a mobile app that allows users to wirelessly present PowerPoints from their tablet or smartphone directly to a display device, won the $50,000 Trailblazer Capital Start-up Entrepreneur Investment Prize and the $3,000 Gimmal Group Outstanding IT Prize at the Rice Business Plan Competition, currently the world’s richest and largest business plan competition.

FocalCast is a venture of Narsys LLC, a company founded by senior mechanical engineering major Devin Turner (who serves as CEO) and fellow engineering student and chief technology officer Charlie Beckwith. Nicholas Winninger, Narsys’ business analyst and Marquette MBA student, joined Turner and Beckwith at the competition.

Commuters beware: Stretch of I-43 to be resurfaced

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) will start work on I-43 from Lexington Blvd. (just south of Silver Spring Road) to WIS 32. WisDOT will begin work Wednesday evening, April 23rd, weather permitting. The work is expected to be completed late summer.

The project includes resurfacing of the entire 14 mile stretch of freeway, lengthening the southbound exit ramp at the Mequon Road Interchange, replacing the beam guard from Bender Road to Green Tree Road and installing new beam guard south of County Line Road.

The initial work will be removal of the beam guard and median work on the southern part of the project. Resurfacing work is expected to start in May.

Lane closures will take place in the overnight hours from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

This project is being done in advance of proposed reconstruction of this area of the I-43 Corridor. The corridor is currently under a comprehensive study.