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No. City attorneys represent West Allis as a municipal corporation and cannot give legal advice to any individual. For a good explanation, click here.
If you wish to make a claim for damages against the city, you might have to file a claim for damages first. Before pursuing any legal action, it's not a bad idea to talk to a private attorney who can assist you.
Click here to explore the claims process.
Yes, there are a number of ways to do that.
First, double check that your citation lists the West Allis Municipal Court, 11301 W. Lincoln Avenue. Several courts use the same format for citations and the county or state could be handling your case even if the incident happened in West Allis.
Second, make sure you've got things handled with the municipal judge. You will need to contact the judge by entering a plea. If you plead guilty or no contest, the judge will likely resolve the case and determine the outcome. The prosecutor can handle your case only if you plead "not guilty" to your municipal citation.
If you have pleaded "not guilty" already and wish to discuss your case with the city prosecutor, here are the ways for you to do that:
The primary difference is that a city attorney is more like a corporate attorney who does some non-criminal prosecution and a district attorney is a criminal prosecutor who focuses almost exclusively on that work.
A city attorney is the lawyer who represents a city as a corporation in a wide variety of matters. While some city attorneys prosecute cases in court, those cases are non-criminal and only a portion of the city attorney's responsibilities. Some city attorneys are full-time employees and others are retained through private law firms, but each city pays for its own attorney regardless of whether the person is an employee or retained counsel. By statute, city attorneys handle all the "law business" of their cities, so much of what a city attorney does is not necessarily listed in a statute. Every city should have at least a part-time city attorney, but some larger cities may have full-time deputy and assistant city attorneys as well (for example, West Allis has 4 attorneys). A city attorney only focuses on that city.
A district attorney is a criminal prosecutor who primarily handles the charging and prosecution of crimes that occur within that district attorney's county. Each county in the state has its own elected district attorney with the exception of a shared office between Menominee and Shawano County. A district attorney can also hire deputy and assistant attorneys, but the state employs all district attorneys, deputies, and assistants instead of the county in which they work (with a few exceptions for special prosecutors). The district attorney has very specialized duties laid out in state law and is responsible for all municipalities in the district attorney's county.
Click here to visit the Milwaukee County District Attorney's website.
The primary difference is that a circuit court handles a wide variety of legal claims made under state law and a municipal court only handles prosecution of local ordinance violations.
Municipal courts only hear cases in which a city alleges that an individual violated an ordinance. The primary penalty is a forfeiture, which is just the legal word for a money payment. Although a municipal judge can order a defendant to serve time in jail for non-payment of a forfeiture, that judge cannot directly order jail time as a penalty. A municipal court only exists when a city creates one and operates under the rules found in Chapter 800 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
Circuit courts hear state claims on a wide variety of topics, including contracts, real estate, probate, and criminal cases. Circuit court judges can order money judgments, fines, jail or prison time, probation, injunctions, and other types of remedies. Circuit courts exist by the law in our state constitution and the rules are found in Chapter 753 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
It depends on the kind of dispute.
General Crimes - If you wish to report a crime that has occurred in West Allis, please call the West Allis Police Department at (414) 302-8000.
Condition of the Dwelling - If you are a tenant and your dispute is related to the condition of your residence, you may contact the Department of Building Inspection and Neighborhood Services. You can do that by clicking here and providing that information.
Unfair Business Practices - If you are a tenant and you believe your agreement with your landlord is illegal or if your landlord has done something that violates the state rental practices code (PDF), you may contact the state's consumer protection agency by clicking here.
The city may not be able to assist in other types of disputes. However, private mediation may be helpful if the landlord and tenant agree. A company called Mediate Wisconsin specializes in helping to resolve landlord-tenant disputes.
Unless a crime has been committed or there is an ongoing public nuisance, the City cannot use its police power to resolve a neighborhood dispute. However, as a service to residents, the City offers free mediation for neighbors who want to try to resolve their differences. Click here for more information.
Ultimately, it is the home owner’s or property owner’s responsibility to obtain permits for any work requiring permits. If a contractor does work for you but does not obtain a permit before starting, that is a contract dispute between you and them. The City will not get involved in contract disputes between a home owner and a contractor. The best way to ensure that a permit has been obtained is to ask the contractor to show you the permit or give you the permit number prior to allowing them to start any work on your house. As a home owner or property owner, you are also responsible for any work done by previous owners or contractors without permits. Be sure to check our property file records at City Hall before purchasing any property to know what you are buying. Do not rely on real estate listings, assessment records or other online reporting tools. Only the permit records at City Hall in the Department of Code Enforcement office has the full list of permits that have been issued for a property.
Being proficient in the construction trades generally requires several years of learning the skills and code requirements related to all aspects of the trade. However, we recognize that some homeowners may be skilled in certain aspects of the construction trades and may want to perform work generally required to be performed by a licensed contractor. You are permitted to obtain a permit and perform building construction work as a home owner of a one- or two-family dwelling who resides at the dwelling. If your project involves electrical or plumbing work, it would typically require a licensed contractor to obtain permits and perform the work. However, a homeowner who resides at the property may be allowed to repair or replace various items around the house on their own, with or without a permit, depending on what the project entails.
The applicable building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and zoning codes still apply to your project, even if no permit is required. The only difference is that you are exempt from obtaining a permit and no inspection will be made. City Hall has copies of all local, state and national codes that govern your project, and these codes are also available through links on this website.
Any habitable space that is created requires a building permit. If you are just painting the basement walls and not constructing new walls or creating rooms, no permit is required. If you create finished space in your basement, keep in mind that a permit is required as well as following several state and local codes. For example, if a basement bedroom is constructed, a second exit (typically an egress window) is required to be installed to the state building code.
Fence permits are not required by the City of West Allis; however certain requirements do need to be followed. Residential property owners may place a fence with a height no greater than six feet up to the property line in the side and rear yards. Fences are not permitted in the required front yard. The “good side” of the fence is required to face out towards your neighbors. Fences are not allowed to project into the vision triangle at the intersection of streets or alleys on residential properties. If you have any questions about fence locations, you can contact the City of West Allis Department of Code Enforcement at (414) 302-8400 or review the Revised Municipal Code, Section 13.31, online or at City Hall.
Re-roofing a house is considered maintenance and does not generally require a permit. However, if structural damage is found on your house, a permit may be required to replace any roof structural members (this does not include the plywood or OSB sheathing that goes down on the roof rafters or trusses). The West Allis municipal code only allows two layers of roofing material on a house, so if you have two layers already, they will have to be removed before installing the new roofing material. The amount of attic ventilation on your house cannot be reduced through a re-roofing project.
Re-siding a house is considered maintenance and does not generally require a permit. However, if structural damage is found on your house, a permit may be required to replace any wall structural members (this does not include the plywood or OSB sheathing on the wall).
A permit is not required for storage sheds 150 square feet or less, however the building and zoning codes still apply to your project. The storage shed must be structurally sound and placed the proper distances from lot lines where applicable. Contact the City of West Allis Code Enforcement Department at (414) 302-8400 or review the Revised Municipal Code, Section 13.23, online or at City Hall.
Yes. Water heaters are not considered fixtures orappliances. They are pressure vessels that, if installed incorrectly, can causeserious harm. Gas-fired water heaters must also be properly ventilated to avoidcarbon monoxide poisoning.
Window replacement is considered maintenance and does not generally require a permit. However, if you choose to install a different size, or potentially style of window, a permit is required. Habitable rooms in dwellings require a certain amount of natural light and natural ventilation, and there are requirements for egress through a window of certain rooms in an emergency. Reducing the size of a window could affect those requirements. Increasing the size of a window typically will involve structural modifications to the wall to create a larger header over the window, and framing modifications.
If you are only replacing counter tops and/or cabinets andnot altering the physical space by opening or changing walls, a building permitis not required. Increasing the size of the room, performing structuralmodifications (including removing walls), adding or removing a soffit above thecabinets or removing/replacing drywall will require a building permit. Whenapplicable, electrical and plumbing permits will be required for any workperformed, and licensed contractors must typically obtain these permits.
No. Repairs or replacement of lighting fixtures, lightswitches, devices or receptacles do not require a permit. CAUTION: Allreplacement light fixtures and switches are now required to be grounded forsafety. If you are unfamiliar with how to ground to an existing electricalsystem, contact a licensed electrician.
It will depend on what is making the yard a mess, and if that is a violation of the City’s Property Maintenance Code. You can view the Property Maintenance Code online on the City’s website. If you would like to report a property for a messy yard, broken windows, parking on lawns, abandoned vehicles, general property maintenance, tall grass, excessive weeds, sidewalks that are not shoveled, or a number of other issues, please use the “Report a Concern" system on the main City website.
All properties within 150 feet of fire hydrants are responsible for clearing the hydrant per the West Allis Code of Ordinances 11.12. In an emergency, every second counts. Fire hydrants that are blocked or difficult to access due to snow and/or ice waste first responders' valuable time. Keeping them clear means easier access to water to fight emergencies.
If you have a fire hydrant within 150 feet of your property, remove ice and snow from the hydrants at least three feet around the hydrant on all sides, and clear a path from the hydrant to the street.
Property owners are required to remove and clear any snow or ice from public sidewalks in front of their premises within 24 hours after a snow event or formation of ice. This also includes curb ramps at corners, which should be cleared to a minimum width of three feet including the portion of the street to the plowed area. Fire hydrants should also be cleared by property owners within 150 feet of the hydrants. Learn more by viewing the City's Municipal Code Snow & Ice Removal Section 11.12.
The City's Zoning Code details permitted businesses at locations throughout the city, based on the unique characteristics of each district. In order to confirm if your proposed business is permitted, first confirm the zoning classification of your business location. Then, reference Chapter 12: Zoning and City Planning of the City's Municipal Code to see if your business falls within the Permitted or Special Use category for your location's zoning classification. If your business is within the Permitted category, your business is permitted to operate, based on obtaining occupancy and any required licenses. If your business is a Special Use, the Plan Commission and Common Council will review your proposal for compatibility with the site and neighborhood. A Public Hearing will also be held to gather input from the surrounding neighborhood, and conditions of approval may be required. The typical length of the Special Use process is 45-60 days. If you have any questions regarding Permitted or Special Uses, please contact the Department of Development, City Planning & Zoning Division at (414) 302-8460 or email email@example.com.
Visit our Economic Development website to explore the steps needed to turn your business dream into a reality.
Yes! Our Economic Development team is here to help. Meet with us to discuss your business needs and we'll help you find the perfect West Allis property to bring your vision to life.
City of West Allis Economic Development administers various loans, grants and other economic development programs in an effort to support and grow the local economy. From large-scale redevelopment to small business investments, we look forward to helping your business reach its goals. Learn more about our programs.
For a complete overview of duties and requirements, please see the Firefighter Job Description.
Open burning is prohibited in the City of West Allis, however, a device for the burning of wood that is equipped with a metal hood and screen that completely encloses the area where wood is burned so as to prevent embers or sparks from exiting the device is allowed. Additionally, such devices shall not be used on porches or decks or within ten (10) feet of a dwelling, garage or other accessory structure; such devices shall not be used between the hours of 11:00 pm and 8:00 am; and such devices shall be tended by a competent person at all times combustion is occurring.
At this time we have suspended Fire Station tours.
We do not offer CPR instruction or recertification courses/classes. Advanced Professional Healthcare Education (APHE) is an American Heart Association authorized training center and provides this type of instruction for a fee. Please visit their website at https://www.aphed.com
No. The West Allis Fire Department staff is not certified to install child safety seats in private vehicles. If you are a West Allis resident, the West Allis Health Department will be able to assist and can be contacted at 414-302-8600 to schedule an appointment. To find car and booster safety check locations in your area visit safekidswi.org.
To request a copy of a fire, property or ambulance report, click here.
The Fire Department's required permits are available here: Fire Permits
If you are a West Allis business owner and need to report a non-emergent issue, i.e. sprinkler system or fire alarm system is out of service, please relay your issue by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The West Allis Fire Department has a smoke and carbon monoxide detector program that was developed to address the needs of the elderly and low-income residents who own their home within our community. State statute requires that there be one (1) smoke alarm on each level of your home (a 2-story with a basement would require three (3) smoke alarms. A smoke alarm must be located within fifteen (15) feet of a bedroom (a house with bedrooms on one side and the master bedroom on the other would require at least two (2) smoke alarms on that level). Additionally, homeowners with gas appliances must have one (1) carbon monoxide detector per level. These detectors can be purchased at most hardware or department stores. Look for the UL label on the package. This mark indicates that it has been tested and approved by Underwriters Laboratory. Please contact the Fire Department if you own your home and need assistance obtaining a smoke or carbon monoxide detector.
The owner of a residential building needs to provide smoke alarms for his/her property. The owner of a residential building shall install and maintain a functional smoke detector in the basement and at the head of any stairway on each floor level of the building. Also, the owner shall install a functional smoke detector either in each sleeping area of each unit or elsewhere in the unit within 6 feet of each sleeping area and not in a kitchen.
The state legislature lists a variety of requirements for carbon monoxide alarms (CO); in short, carbon monoxide alarms are required if the building and units have fuel-burning appliances. They are required in units, outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping rooms. Most furnaces and water heaters are located in the basement, therefore, a CO alarm shall be located in the basement away from the fuel burning unit to prevent a false activation.
Wisconsin law states that if a detector is not working the landlord shall be notified. Within five days after receipt of notification, the landlord shall provide any maintenance necessary to make the detector operational.
Additionally, the owner of a residential building is not liable for damages resulting from any of the following:
1. A false alarm from a carbon monoxide detector if the carbon monoxide detector was reasonably maintained by the owner of the residential building.
2. The failure of a carbon monoxide detector to operate properly if that failure was the result of tampering with, or removal or destruction of, the carbon monoxide detector by a person other than the owner or the result of a faulty detector that was reasonably maintained by the owner as required. This law is also applicable for smoke alarms as well.
Lastly, the landlord/owner is responsible for providing fire extinguishers as well. They shall be located in the common areas of the property and in the basement.
Most fire extinguishers found in businesses must be maintained by a certified fire extinguisher company on an annual basis and can be serviced and reused for years, but extinguishers found in your home likely are disposable. 12 years after the date of manufacturing, the bottle of your fire extinguisher needs to be hydrostatically tested. It is likely less expensive, easier, and quicker to buy an entirely new fire extinguisher at your local home improvement store.
Expired extinguishers can be dangerous if put into your recycling cart if they are still under pressure, so please do not place them there. If you need to dispose of your old extinguishers, you can take them outside and release the pressure by spraying the extinguisher. Be advised that this may make a large cloud of dust or vapor, so be mindful of wind speed and direction. The dust may be corrosive to home and auto paint, so make sure you are far away from any vehicles and homes.
Empty canisters can be taken to the West Allis Municipal Yards Drop Off Site for disposal as scrap metal.
If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, you can drop off your old extinguishers at the West Allis Fire Department Administration Building, Monday thru Friday, from 8:30 AM until 4:00 PM and we will dispose of the extinguishers for you. You may also take old fire extinguishers to: Milwaukee Recharging Service 5707 W. Vliet, Milwaukee, 414-774-0772 Accurate Recharge & Fire 5811 N. 96th, Milwaukee 414-464-1870
No, the fire department does not perform chimney or fireplace inspections in residents’ homes. If you are approached by somebody claiming to be a member of the fire department offering these inspections, be suspicious. Please ask for identification and note that all fire department employees would be in uniform and would be able to produce an identification card if requested. If you have any doubts as to the identity of a possible fire inspector, call the fire department at 414-302-8903 to verify his/her identity.
No, we do not. West Allis-West Milwaukee residents (with ID) can purchase a radon test kit from the West Allis Health Department for $7. Test kits are also available at hardware stores or a Radon Information Center for around $20. Visit the WI Department of Health Services website for more information.
Please reference the Orientation & Time Trial Information page for the 2023 testing dates and registration form.
To register for a CPAT testing process, you must submit a correctly completed CPAT registration form. Once you have correctly completed and submitted a CPAT Application, you will receive a confirmation email of your date selection(s). If you do not, then your application was NOT received and you are not registered to attend a CPAT testing process.
The CPAT testing process (to include 2 orientations and 2 time trials) is $165.00 payable by cash, cashier’s check or check (made out to: West Allis Fire Department). See the Registration and Payment page for additional CPAT payment information.
The CPAT testing course is outdoors and orientations, time trials and final test will be conducted in almost any weather except for the following conditions as set forth by the IAFF CPAT Manual:
Temperature is below 45o F;
Heat Index (temperature and humidity) is greater than 95o F;
Wind speed higher than 20 MPH;
There is a measurable amount of rain and/or lightening/thunder.
If an orientation, time trial or test is cancelled due to one of the above weather conditions, participants will be notified via email in as timely a manner as possible.
No. CPAT time trials are optional. However, if a participant successfully passes a time trial, then he/she has successfully passed the CPAT test and will be given a CPAT Certificate of Completion.
A fire watch consists of:
In order to be qualified and designated to be a fire watch, fire watch personnel should be trained annually in the following:
Personnel providing a fire watch shall perform the following duties:
Fire watch personnel shall patrol the entire facility every 15 minutes when:
Purchase your permit online here.
You can search for your property by tax key or address in our online Property Search to find the day of the week your garbage and/or recycling will be collected. Recycling is collected every other week. See our Document Library for the current collection schedule. Collection may be delayed during holiday weeks. Visit our Trash & Recycling page for detailed collection information, sign up for email or text message alerts when collection schedules change.
There are several options for making payments for utility bills. 1. ONLINE: Go to www.westalliswi.gov/payutilitybill to use a credit card or checking account to pay utility bill. Create an account online for additional options including auto pay. 2. AUTO PAY: Payments are drawn directly from a checking account on due date. Create an account online at www.westalliswi.gov/payutilitybill to register for auto pay. 3. BY PHONE: Credit cards are accepted by calling 855-288-0678 or online at www.westallsiwi.gov/payutilitybill. A convenience fee of $3.50 is added for each transaction up to $400. Multiple transactions can be made using this payment method. 4. MAIL: Send payments to City of West Allis, P.O. Box 14248, West Allis, WI 53214-0248. Include bill payment stub or statement with payment. Make checks payable to "The City of West Allis. 5. IN PERSON: Payments are accepted at Tri City National Bank locations in the City of West Allis or at City Hall. Go to www.tcnb.com for locations and hours. City Hall Treasurer's Office is located at 7525 West Greenfield Avenue. The main entrance is on the south side of the building. City Hall is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. After hours, drop payments in the locked drop box near the main entrance to City Hall.
The City's Zoning Code details permitted businesses at locations throughout the city, based on the unique characteristics of each district. In order to confirm if your proposed business is permitted, first confirm the zoning classification of your business location. Then, reference Chapter 12: Zoning and City Planning of the City's Municipal Code to see if your business falls within the Permitted or Special Use category for your location's zoning classification. If your business is within the Permitted category, your business is permitted to operate, based on obtaining occupancy and any required licenses. If your business is a Special Use, the Plan Commission and Common Council will review your proposal for compatibility with the site and neighborhood. A Public Hearing will also be held to gather input from the surrounding neighborhood, and conditions of approval may be required. The typical length of the Special Use process is 45-60 days. If you have any questions regarding Permitted or Special Uses, please contact Planning & Zoning at email@example.com.
Come in to the Engineering Department on the 2nd Floor of City Hall or call 414-302-8360 for more information.
Street Occupancy and Dumpster Permit applications are now being filled through the West Allis OpenGov portal. Street Occupancy and Dumpster Permits can be obtained by completing the online form.
Occupancy and Dumpster Permit
Information regarding special event permits (block party permits) is available here. Apply for a special event permit here.
Private driveway approach applications are now being filled through the West Allis OpenGov Portal. Permits to construct a new driveway approach, as well as replace or widen an existing approach, can be obtained by completing the online form.
Driveway Approach Application
Day Time Parking Permits are now being filled through the West Allis OpenGov Portal. Commuter impacted/day time parking permits can be obtained by completing the online form.
Day Time Parking Permits
To determine what you can use your property for, you first need to determine your zoning district.
Now that you know your zoning district, you can check what uses are allowed in that district.
If a use is allowed in a zoning district, it may be allowed in several different ways. The City of West Allis classifies how uses are allowed in 3 ways:
A use that is allowed without any specified conditions
A use that is allowed upon meeting all conditions specified in the code
A use that is allowed upon meeting all conditions specified in the code and those imposed by the Common Council
Conditions for Limited Uses can be found in Sec. 19.33. Conditions for Conditional Uses can be found in Sec. 19.34.
Most signs require a sign permit in the City of West Allis. Signs do not require a permit if they are less than 6 sq. ft. and are not illuminated or if they are window signs that meet the requirements found in 13.21(18).
To get your sign approved, apply for a sign permit through the City's online Sign Permit Application.
The application will be reviewed to ensure it meets the City's Sign Code. These rules specify the number, size, design, location, and construction standards for signs. Please reference the Sign Review & Approval, section of our web site for detailed guidelines. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with additional questions.
Zoning is the way that cities determine what land can be used for.
To do this, cities divide land into zoning districts. Each zoning district has a different set of rules. These rules determine what uses are allowed and how the land can be built upon.
The City of West Allis has 3 main types of zoning districts: residential, commercial, and manufacturing. In total, there are 13 unique zoning districts:
Intended for neighborhoods with primarily 1-unit dwellings on large lots.
Intended for neighborhoods with primarily 1-unit dwellings on moderate sized lots.
Intended for neighborhoods with primarily 1-unit dwellings on small lots.
Intended for traditional neighborhoods with a diverse array of housing types on small lots.
Intended for dense, multi-unit housing development in areas throughout the city.
Intended for the city's historic pedestrian-oriented downtown shopping district.
Intended for a mix of uses in close proximity to residential areas that are compatible with the neighborhood scale.
Intended for commercial development serving the broader community's daily needs.
Intended for large-scale, automobile-oriented commercial development serving the needs of the regional population.
Intended for lower-intensity, non-nuisance industrial uses in closer proximity to residential and commercial uses.
Intended for higher-intensity industrial uses that should be separated from residential and commercial uses.
Intended to provide areas for open space, recreation, and preservation of natural resources.
Intended for State Fair grounds.
No, you must have a Section 8 voucher before you can join our FSS program.
No, the program is completely voluntary. However, it is highly encouraged, especially if you want you and/or your family to be financially self-sufficient and on the way to financial independence.
No. The goal of the FSS program is to help you reach self-sufficiency and to be successful through employment and other financial choices; however, graduation requires only that you complete your own goals and be suitably employed. If you are far enough along the path to self-sufficiency by the time you graduate from FSS, you may be earning enough money that you will no longer be eligible for Section 8; that’s a great thing for you! If you graduate from FSS but still meet the income guidelines, you will continue to receive your housing assistance.
Want to learn more? Fill out the Family Self Sufficiency Program interest form.
The FSS Program is a cooperative program that provides support and assistance to your family for up to 5 years. The head of household enters into an agreement with the FSS program, which identifies the family's employment goals. It outlines the activities and services required to achieve these goals. Regular contact with us is essential and will provide opportunities to problem-solve obstacles before they arise. An FSS Coordinator will support you, take an interest in your future, and will refer you to public agencies and resources available. They will assist you in achieving your objectives.
Gradually, as you accomplish increased degrees of self-sufficiency by working and earning more, your portion of rent may go up. Another advantage to the FSS Program is that as this happens, we will establish an escrow account that will be awarded to you when you've successfully completed FFS. This account automatically saves for you and could be a boost in reaching any goals or personal endeavors you may have. You can even join the FSS Program if you are presently working or are in school. You are not required to be on any public assistance other than the Housing Choice Voucher Program in order to qualify.
Joining the program could be the key to your family's success. It is designed to assist families just like yours. People join the FSS Program to learn work skills and improve their ability to get and maintain employment. Our Family Self-Sufficiency clients make impressive progress towards self-support.
The assessor is not involved in the collection of property taxes.
Each autumn six different public entities develop and approve a budget for the upcoming year. Each “taxing authority” must decide what services they will provide in the coming year and how much money they will need to provide those services.
Once these budgets are approved, a “rate of tax” is calculated that will generate the tax dollars needed to meet each approved budget. Your total property tax is then calculated by multiplying the tax rate by your assessment.
West Allis property owners contribute tax dollars to meet the annual budget demands of 6 taxing authorities; the State of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County, the City of West Allis, the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District and Milwaukee Area Technical College.
A Revaluation is a thorough review of assessed values throughout the City, when it is clear that open-market, arms-length real estate prices have increased or decreased enough to require that the assessments be adjusted to keep in step. During the Revaluation process, all assessed values are examined and adjustments are made where necessary to "catch-up" with market trends.
In Wisconsin, assessments are simply “snapshot” estimates of value whose chief purpose is to divide the burden of tax evenly and fairly between all properties in a community. Because they are only snapshots and may not be updated for several years, they ARE NOT good estimates of a property’s value TODAY.
As described by Chapter 70 of the Wisconsin statutes and the Wisconsin Property Assessment Manual, property assessments are calculated “en masse” or “as-a-group” in a process called Mass Appraisal. This mass appraisal process is based on analysis of Sale Prices, Construction Costs and Rents over a period of time.
Over time, there are high sales and low sales, but the assessor looks for the range of sale prices which is most common for each type of property to derive assessed values. It is important to remember that the assessor may only react to what happens in the market.
By design, Mass Appraisal does not address day-to-day fluctuations, but rather attempts to “smooth out” short-term variability by looking at the market over a period of years to understand how markets change overall.
This approach is very different from that used by private appraisers, who must rely on a few up-to-the-minute sales to satisfy risk-averse lenders, and may yield widely different results.
Market value is defined as the amount a typical, well-informed purchaser would be willing to pay for a property. The seller and buyer must be unrelated, the seller must be willing, but not under pressure to sell, and the buyer must be willing, but not under any obligation to buy. The property must be on the market for a reasonable length of time, the payment must be in cash or its equivalent, and the financing must be typical for that type of property.
An appraiser must determine if the price paid for a property is a price most typical, well informed and unpressured buyers would have paid for a property before using it to help estimate what other “open-market, arms-length buyers and sellers would agree to.
Secondly, you should compare the actual assessment of properties similar to your own. To know if your assessment is fair and equitable, you must first determine if your property is bearing its fair share of the tax burden. Make a list of properties like your own in your area, and check their assessments periodically to make sure that they are in line with each other.
The amount of money you pay on your property tax bill should be about the same as your neighbors with similar homes around the City. The local assessor’s job is to make sure that happens in order that the burden of tax is evenly spread out according to the relative value of each property.
According to the Wisconsin Legislature, for instance, if you’re comparing Milwaukee Bungalows, the one in the best neighborhood with the best condition should have the highest tax burden and the one in the least desirable neighborhood in the worst condition should pay the least. All the other Milwaukee Bungalows should be between these extremes in order of best to poorest. As long as your home seems to be in line, your share of the total tax levy should be fair.
Finally, you should make sure that your assessment is based on actual sales prices of similar properties at the time we performed our last “market-adjusted” Citywide Revaluation. This can be done by looking at sale prices of similar homes or buildings in comparable parts of the City. Sales and assessment information is available in our office and open to the public for review during regular office hours and also on the City website.
You may also choose to contact a private contract appraiser or real estate salesperson to estimate the probable selling price of your property if sold now. However, keep in mind that the job of the Assessor is not to determine what your house is worth today. It is instead to divide the burden of tax fairly and equitably between similar properties using historical sales trends as a basis, an understanding of market activity over time is necessary.
In fact, neither the assessment ratio nor the EFMV appeared on tax bills before 1987; it was considered to be unnecessary since the tax due is calculated using just the assessment and the tax rate (Mil rate).
In1987 the State Legislature had decided to bring property assessments all around the State to some common level of assessment to protect the idea that taxation must be Uniform under our Constitution. The change they enacted to accomplish this was to require that total assessments in a community could be no more than 10% above or below market levels overall.
Prior to that change, assessments in every town, village or city were different and could be any fraction of the overall market level depending on where you went across the State. It was not uncommon to find nearby communities whose assessments were 25%, 38%, 57% or 82% of their actual market levels.
The assessment ratio on the tax bill was included as a way to show taxpayers that their Towns, Villages and Cities were adjusting assessments periodically to keep up with real estate market changes. The EFMV was added as well as a misguided attempt to help taxpayers decide if their assessment was on the right track.
The EFMV is calculated simply by dividing the assessment by the assessment ratio. The assessment ratio is an overall comparison of the market sale prices of all properties that sold the previous year with their assessment at the time of sale to see how far apart they are. This comparison gives us an idea of how the overall market had changed over that time, but unfortunately not much about a single home.
The Assessment ratio is calculated by the Department of Revenue by statistically mashing up the sales prices of all the property that sold in a municipality, including residential, commercial and industrial parcels, even though these kinds of properties perform very differently from each other. It is then compared to the assessed value of these properties to find the ratio between the two.
At the end of the day, the EFMV and assessment ratio are meant to help City and State officials know when a market-adjusted Citywide Revaluation is necessary rather than anything specific about any individual property.
The Wisconsin Property Assessment Manual does not allow us to adjust a single property assessment to “come into line” with a recent sale price, whether it is higher or lower than the current assessment, unless we are also adjusting all properties in the City at the same time to “come into line” with changing market conditions overall during a Revaluation.
At that time, we adjust all assessments to “catch-up” with market changes since the last Revaluation and to correct any “valuation shifts” that may have developed in the market during that time. (e.g. In some market periods, a Cape Cod home will sell for more than a Bungalow of the same size and location, but at other times this trend reverses itself, and the Bungalow will sell for more).
If your assessment changes after you have purchased it and it isn’t a revaluation year, it is because we have corrected our record as to what is in your home-not for the market when your home was purchased.
Our first obligation under the law is to split up the burden of tax between all of the property owners in a Uniform and Equitable way, where each property is asked to bear a proportional share of the total tax burden. In other words, the law requires us to ensure that similar homes have similar tax bills using the Assessment (estimated market value) as a guide.
While there have been more foreclosure-related sales since 2008 than any time during the past 20 years, foreclosure sales have always been part of the market. In this downturn, Wisconsin has fared better than most states as real estate values adjust to the economic climate.
Just as foreclosure-related sales are frequently not an indicator of market value when values are rising, they are not necessarily an indicator of value in a declining market and are not normally considered by the assessor when determining the market value of property in a community. However, if many discounted properties are available to buyers in a given market, all other properties must reduce their prices to compete. In this way market sales prices are negatively influenced by the presence of discount properties in a market.
In fact, Wisconsin law, appraisal standards, and Wisconsin courts, require very specific criteria for a sale to be considered as a reliable indicator of market value.
Two of the most important of these criteria are whether the sale occurred under duress (such as a forced sale) and whether the property had adequate market exposure. For example, a property that sells two weeks after it is listed may have sold quickly because it was under-priced. This may be an indication of a duress situation, requiring closer review by the assessor, to verify whether it was an arm’s length transaction. In most cases, looking at non-foreclosure sales is the most reliable way to gauge what is actually happening with neighborhood values.
There are times when the majority of homes that are selling in your neighborhood tend to be around the same price as foreclosure-related sales. In this case, they may represent a reasonable picture of market value
Even if everyone’s assessment were to decrease as a group because the overall real estate market had declined, if elected Council and Board members do not lower spending, or if they increase it, the Mill Rate (Tax Rate) would have to go up so that at tax bill time they would collect the total amount of money they agreed to spend when they first planned the budget.
However, if the value of your home decreases more than your neighbors because it is in worse condition than most or you tear something down, your share of the tax burden may lessen.
Please be aware that we can only discuss your assessed value, not your tax bill or the amount of taxes the Common Council spends. It is the responsibility of your elected and appointed officials to decide how much money to collect in each year’s tax levy, including the Common Council, the School Board, the County Board, State Legislature, Metro Milwaukee Sewerage District and MATC.
The Assessor is responsible under State statute to divide the burden of tax equitably in each community.
First, you should make sure that our permanent records describe your property accurately.
Secondly, you should make sure that your assessment is in line with homes similar to yours in neighborhoods like yours.
Finally, you should make sure that your assessment is based on actual sales prices of similar properties at the time we performed our last “market-adjusted” Citywide Revaluation.
Both assessments and sales are available on the City of West Allis website (Google “West Allis Assessor”) or in the Assessor’s office at City Hall.
If this research does not clear things up for you, the next step would be to schedule an appointment to meet with a staff appraiser during the “Open Book” period identified on your assessment notice to discuss your assessment. Bring along any evidence you’ve gathered and/or a copy of a recent professional appraisal if you have one.
If after your meeting with a staff appraiser you want to appeal your assessment before the Board of Review, you may verbally present your evidence to them as sworn testimony and answer any questions they may have.
To request a hearing, you should obtain and complete an assessment objection packet from the City Clerk to schedule a date to testify. Once the packet is submitted, the Clerk’s office will schedule an appointment for you to appear to offer verbal testimony before the Board of Review.
The Board is made up of five citizens who are knowledgeable about the real estate market, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Common Council. It is the Board’s duty to hear verbal testimony and examine supplementary evidence presented by both the taxpayer and the Assessor’s office and to determine if the Assessment is in error and should be overturned.
The Tax Levy represents the total amount of money needed to fund the budgets each year approved by the elected or appointed boards that run the different levels of government in Wisconsin. In West Allis, that includes the city, the school board, the county, the state, the sewerage district and the technical college.
The burden of tax created by the passage of the annual budgets for each of these entities must be met by the tax levy or the total amount of money collected each year. These taxes must be apportioned among property owners according to the percentage of ownership they have in the total property of the municipality.
The most important job of the assessor is to distribute the burden of tax in an equitable way between similar properties. The way that this is accomplished is to set the assessments of similar properties at similar levels using open-market, arms-length sales prices as periodic benchmarks.
If assessments are 10% above market values the tax burden will be the same as it would be if assessments were 10% below market levels. This is because whether assessments are high or low, the budget approved by elected and appointed officials will be met because the mil-rate will be adjusted to arrive at the same result.
The most important thing is not that an assessment is exactly at market level all the time, but instead that each assessment is in line with similar properties.
Please keep in mind that our first obligation is to make sure that similar homes have similar assessments in order to preserve basic tax fairness. Also, in the interest of fairness, we cannot adjust an assessment based solely on a private appraisal without review.
We recognize that not all appraisals are performed for the same purpose or carried out in the same way. Assessments are performed for the purpose of ensuring tax fairness while a Refinance or Mortgage appraisal is performed to reassure the lender that the loan amount is within a certain range of acceptable risk. In contrast, estimating the cost to replace a building in the case of fire is the only concern of an Insurance company.
While we find that Comparable Market Analysis prepared by Realtors often ignore fundamental appraisal principles, we will be pleased to review any professionally prepared market analysis completed within the past year.
Each of these appraisal purposes may conclude that a different value is appropriate for the same property on the same day.
Assessments are based on “typical and usual” prices for each type of property, and a single “non-market” sale doesn’t tell us much about that. To find the typical market price range, we need to look only at open-market, arms-length sales over time.
To help determine which prices are “typical and usual” prices, the Wisconsin Legislature and Court system have developed a test to make sure that we do not consider non-market sales in our analysis. They recognized that certain property sales occur under unique or unusual circumstances and are therefore not good indicators of what the open market is doing.
According to their test, you can identify an open-market, arms-length sale if:
1. No personal, business or other relationship exists between the buyer and seller. This is known as the “arms-length rule”. (if you already know each other, there is a high likelihood that you were willing to make a deal which was not available to others)
2. Both buyer and seller came to the deal freely and were not under any undue compulsion or duress to act. This is known as the “no pressure rule”. (Includes foreclosure, sudden job change, divorce, death of owner or the need to liquidate assets fast to get cash, etc.)
3. Both the buyer and seller know what “going prices” are and can negotiate with full knowledge of current market conditions and are acting in their own best interests. This is known as the “market knowledge rule”
4. The property was marketed for sale in a typical way for a typical period of time in an open-market. If it takes 10 months to sell a Cape Cod that is priced right in the current market, 6 months at a high price is not typical. This is known as the “equal exposure rule”.
5. Payment is in cash or its equivalent in typical market terms. Sale price should be free from special, creative or unusual financing arrangements or concessions for any interested party. Unusual financing terms have a dramatic “non-market” effect on sale price because all buyers do not have access to similar financing considerations. Therefore the price cannot be considered to be typical of the market. This is known as the “market-finance rule”.
All open-market, arms-length sales are considered together, along with property income and construction cost data if needed, to determine the range of values that will be assigned to individual properties as their assessments.
In this way, we try never to use just one sale (either high or low) to determine assessed value. This “normalizing” process does often result in assessments being different than recent sale prices, but it is an important step since the law requires us to make sure that similar properties have similar assessments.
If buyers are willing to pay more for your property after the improvements are complete, the assessment must be adjusted to match the new category of “nicer” homes you now compare well to.
Improvements that typically will increase the market value of your home include an increase to the living area, new or expanded garage, substantial modernization of kitchens or baths, central air conditioning, fireplaces, or extensive remodeling among others.
Generally, your assessment will not be increased in West Allis for individual minor repairs however a group of individual yet complimentary repairs could result in an increased market value placing your home into a higher category of “nicer homes”.
Repairs that tend to maintain your market value rather than to increase it include repairing concrete walks and driveways, replacing gutters and downspouts, replacing hot water heater, repairing or replacing a roof, repairing porches and steps, repairing original siding, patching or repairing interior walls or ceilings, exterior painting, replacing electrical fixtures, replacing furnace, exterior awnings and shutters, replacing screens, storm windows and doors, or exterior landscaping including lawns, shrubbery, trees, flowers and driveways of any kind.
Your Assessment and the overall Tax-Rate move together like they are on a teeter-totter, staying in balance in order to equal the total amount of taxes your elected officials voted to spend (Tax Levy).
If the Levy stays the same and all Assessments go up, the Tax-Rate will GO DOWN to compensate.
If the Levy stays the same and all Assessments go down, the Tax-Rate will GO UP to compensate.
If they vote to increase the Total Tax Levy, everybody’s taxes go up to compensate.
In a Revaluation, if your assessment changes about the same percentage as everybody else, your taxes should not change any more than they did the year before, as long as spending has not gone up dramatically.
There are 6 taxing authorities that approve a budget each year that together become the Tax Levy:Common Council, School Board, MATC Board, MMSD Board, County Board & State Legislature
Over time, just as the price of gas, groceries, electricity and insurance goes up, so do the costs of picking up trash, educating our kids, cleaning our water and running our jails.
Different styles of property in a single neighborhood may also experience variation in sale prices. For example, a single-story house may be in high demand while two-story houses may lag on the market or vice-versa. In addition, older homes in the same area may be rising in value more slowly than newer homes.
Generally, commercial and industrial properties do not appreciate at the same rate as single family residential homes. There are numerous factors to be considered in West Allis, which will cause each property's values to differ. Some of the factors that can affect value are location, condition, size, quality, number of baths, basement finish, garages and many others.
If you do not agree with the Board of Review's determination, the notice will contain information on how you may appeal the Board's decision.
The Board’s responsibility is to consider the evidence presented to determine whether the assessment calculated by the Assessor is incorrect.
State law places the burden of proof on the property owner under 70.47(8)(i) to demonstrate through sworn testimony that the assessor’s value is not correct. Under law, the Assessor’s value is presumed to be correct. The objector must clearly demonstrate that the assessor’s value is in error; a simple demonstration that other potential values are reasonable is not sufficient.
Only relevant verbal testimony given at the hearing will be considered by the Board. Stating that property taxes are too high is not considered relevant testimony. Exhibits may also be entered into evidence to support any verbal testimony that is provided.
The BOR has sole authority to change assessments after the Assessment Roll is sealed. A hearing before the BOR is the only local appeal available to property owners. Further appeals may occur in Circuit Court or directly to the Department of Revenue. State law places the burden of proof on the property owner under 70.47(8)(i) to demonstrate through sworn testimony that the assessor’s value is not correct. Under law, the Assessor’s value is presumed to be correct. The objector must clearly demonstrate that the assessor’s value is in error; a simple demonstration that other potential values are reasonable is not sufficient.
Only relevant verbal testimony given at the hearing will be considered by the Board. Stating that property taxes are too high is not considered relevant testimony. Exhibits may also be entered into evidence to support any verbal testimony that is provided.
You should establish in your own mind what you think your property is worth. The best evidence for this would be recent sales prices for properties similar to yours. The closer in proximity and similarity, the better the evidence. Another type of evidence is oral testimony from a witness who has made a recent appraisal of your property.
The presence of a historically high number of properties for sale under duress due to foreclosure has drawn down the sales prices of homes not in foreclosure. The economic principle of substitution indicates that a well-informed buyer will not pay more for a property than would be paid for a reasonably similar replacement property.
You can search for your property by tax key or address in our online Property Search to find the day of the week your trash and/or recycling will be collected. Recycling is collected every other week. See our Document Library for the current collection schedule. Collection may be delayed during holiday weeks. Check the website for any collection schedule changes or sign up for email or text message alerts when collection schedules change.
The State of Wisconsin has banned yard waste such as leaves, weeds, flowers, vines and other non-fruit or vegetable matter from being collected and disposed of with household trash. Yard waste can be disposed of in several ways. First, start a backyard compost pile. For more information on how to do so, contact the Recycling Office, Second, yard waste materials may be placed in the curb-line of the street between April 23 - May 14, 2023 and October 1 through the week of November 19, 2023.
What about pine cones, apples, acorns/nuts, "whirly birds" from maple trees?
You may also bring your yard waste to one of the West Allis drop-off sites for disposal without charge. View drop-off site locations and hours.
Large appliances such as washers, dryers, water heaters, freezers, refrigerators, etc, are not collected by the City. Property owners may contact a private hauler and arrange for a collection (see our appliance webpage for a list of appliance haulers). Televisions and small appliances are able to be dropped off at the Municipal Yard as part of the electronics collection program (see e-cycling webpage for more information about electronics collection). Fees may apply for some items.
Alkaline (Single Use) Batteries (Not Accepted) These are not accepted at the West Allis Municipal Yard. Never put these batteries in your recycling cart. Single-use batteries (A, AA, AAA, C, D, etc.) can be thrown out in your regular garbage or can be recycled for a fee through a variety of mail-in programs or local retail drop-offs. Recycling these batteries through mail-in or retail drop off programs can recover steel and zinc.
Garbage carts are available for purchase from the City of West Allis by calling (414) 302-8800 weekdays between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. or online. Carts are available in 96 gallon sizes and cost $58. Prices are subject to change. See our Document Library for garbage containment guidelines.
Brush is defined as branches from trees and trimmings from bushes. Residents should place brush at the curb on the scheduled recycling collection day. Large pieces of brush, up to five feet in length, should be bundled and stacked parallel between the sidewalk and the curb, not in the street. Small pieces of brush must be contained in boxes or cans marked "BRUSH" and the address called in to ensure collection. Do not use plastic bags to contain the brush. Brush in excess of 1 cubic yard and/or longer than five feet will require a special pickup and will incur an additional charge.
In 2023, the City will provide every other week collection of small amounts of resident-generated brush, up to 1 cubic yard, on the scheduled recycling pick-up day between June 5 (red week) and October 6 (black week). View the current collection schedule to find out if your property is a red or black week. No brush collection will be made during the 2023 holiday weeks of July 3 and Sept. 5.
The City of West Allis has an ecycling program to accept electronics such as computer parts and televisions. This program is ONLY for one to four family residential properties in West Allis. Certain items may have a fee. See the ecycling drop-off program information on our ecycling webpage.
Construction debris generated by a contractor will not be collected or disposed of by the City. Residential construction debris in small quantities, 1 cubic yard or less, when properly prepared, contained, and located, will be taken each week with the regular trash collection from residential properties containing three or less living units. Quantities between 1 and 8 cubic yards may be disposed of with a permit at the Municipal Yard for a fee or by paying a fee for special pickup. The City will not collect or offer permits for the disposal of owner-generated demolition material in excess of 8 cubic yards.
One large bulky furniture item weighing less than 150 pounds will be taken on the regular garbage collection day from residential properties when located at the point of collection (i.e. alley edge or curbside, wherever garbage is regularly collected). Amounts up to 1 cubic yard of household debris will also be taken with the regular garbage collection when placed in a container and located at the alley edge or curbside. Quantities of household debris in excess of 1 cubic yard will require arrangements for a special pickup and additional fees. Large, heavy pieces of furniture requiring additional staff and mechanical collection will be subject to a minimum charge of $25.00 to offset staff and equipment charges. The City does not provide bulk household debris collections from commercial properties, multifamily properties containing four or more living units, or mixed-use buildings.
Many common household items require special disposal. These products may be hazardous if used, stored, or disposed of improperly, causing fire, injuries and/or groundwater contamination. These items include used motor oil, gasoline, transmission fluid, antifreeze, oil-based paint, stain and paint remover, solvent-based cleaners, oven cleaner, pool and photo chemicals, pesticides, mothballs, batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Some of these items may be accepted at the City drop-off sites, others must be taken to a hazardous waste disposal location. Please see the comprehensive list of collection guidelines for more detailed information. For additional questions about hazardous waste disposal, call MMSD at (414) 225-2066 or visit the MMSD web site.
Compact fluorescent (spiral) bulbs should not be disposed of in your trash and are not accepted by the City of West Allis. Contact Elliott Ace, Menards or Home Depot or take to a Household Hazardous Collection site. View MMSD website for locations here. Fluorescent (tube) bulbs may be placed in your trash (wrap in newspaper), for residential pickup only, no business/commercial pickups.
The following should be placed in your recycling cart: aluminum and steel (clean, empty and rinsed) - aerosol cans, cans, clean foil and foil trays; glass (clean, empty and rinsed) - bottles, jugs and jars; plastic (clean, empty and rinsed) - bottles and containers #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7; paper - junk mail, bags, magazines, newspaper, office paper, and phone books; cardboard - cereal boxes, food boxes, shipping/moving boxes and paper rolls. These items are not accepted for recycling: batteries, broken glass, bubble wrap, ceramics, dishes, electronics, garbage, hazardous waste, light bulbs, mirrors, motor oil, paint cans, plastic bags, Styrofoam, syringes/medical waste or yard waste.
There is no charge for mattresses up to full size and for box springs. These items can be placed for pick-up with your regular trash. Mattresses queen size and larger will be subject to a fee.
First, remove all candles or decorations from pumpkins and jack o lanterns before disposal. You may throw pumpkins or jack o lanterns away in your regular trash, or place them with yard waste piles for collection during the fall yard waste collection period.
After removing all decorations, live Christmas trees may be placed where trash is collected (in the alley if you have alley collection, or at the curb if you do not have an alley). Please do not place trees in the street.
If a resident receives a parking ticket while there is no access to the street or alley, please contact the construction inspector or drop the ticket off at the City of West Allis' Engineering Department (2nd Floor - City Hall).
1. Navigate to our FTP site.2. If using Internet Explorer 10 or higher, the site is best viewed in Compatiblity Mode.2. Enter as a "guest"3. Click on Engineering
From there, click on the year of the contract and then the specific contract.
Information on 2021 Personal Property Tax and 2021 Real Estate Tax Information can be found on the Treasurer’s Office webpage. You can also pay your taxes online from the Treasure’s Office webpage.
Use our Tax Records Portal to search for your property by address, parcel tax key number or tax account ID. After finding your property, you can view the most recent tax billing and payment information.
There are several options for making payments for utility bills.
If you are moving out or selling your property, you may request a final billing statement for the utility account. The City does not perform final meter readings for utility bills. The property owner, tenant, or agent should provide the final meter readings if a final billing statement is required as part of the closing process. Obtaining a Final Reading Statement is the most accurate way to pay your final utility bill. It protects all parties involved from erroneous estimations. Utility bills are created quarterly and sent out the month after the quarterly billing period ends.
Obtaining a final statement is easy!
If you would like to have the name changed on your bill, go to the City website and fill out the water utility account update at www.westalliswi.gov/account. Otherwise, call (414) 302-8830 Monday-Friday, 7:00am-3:30pm. Account updates can only be requested by the property owner. We are unable to update the account for tenants, property managers, or anyone other than the property owner unless they are authorized in writing by the property owner.
You can set up an online account to access billling information. Go to www.westalliswi.gov/payutilitybill and create an account. Otherwise, current and previous bills can be requested by calling the water utility billing department at (414) 302-8245. Due to the recent passing of WI Act 25, information will only be released to the property owner unless authorization has been given in writing to supply information to a third party.
The landlord should fill out the water utility account update form available online at www.westalliswi.gov/account or call (414) 302-8830 Monday-Friday 7:00am-3:30pm. All owners must receive a copy of the bill as delinquent amounts may still affect the tax bill.
The landlord should fill out the water utility account update form available online at www.westalliswi.gov/account or call (414) 302-8830 Monday-Friday 7:00am-3:30pm.
You are charged for water that passes through the water meter and into your home, whether you enjoyed a cold drink or a hot shower or the water dripped or leaked and was wasted.
You may notice reduced pressure and/or volume when you turn on the shower or faucet in your home. A water main break will result in water leakage which may cause running or pooling water in the street.
It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to have a water main break completely repaired. The amount of time it takes to fix a water main depends on the size of the break, where the break is located, and what type of environment it is in. Water mains are generally repaired and completed between four to eight hours. One factor that may delay the repair is location of the break. A water main that is buried deep inside the earth or under another utility will take much longer.
The utility crews isolate the pipe by shutting off valves and temporarily placing the water supply out-of-service for the time it takes to make the repairs. After the repairs or replacement of the broken pipe is made, it is flushed prior to connecting it to the system.
After a main is repaired, reddish discoloration may be seen in the water caused by small amounts of iron compounds flushing out of the system. You can get rid of the discoloration by running cold water for a few minutes through a tap without an aerator, such as the basement washtub or outside spigot.
If you see a water main break you can use the City’s Online Help System at www.westalliswi.gov/letushelpn or contact the Municipal Water Utility at (414) 302-8830. What to do when there is a water main break
Water meters and their registers can often lose accuracy as they age. They must be replaced every 15 to 20 years. In addition, the new meter will have Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) technology that will save cost and prevent errors.
We are replacing two components. The first is the actual water meter located in the basement or utility closet. This meter will be replaced with a new meter and a radio read device. Secondly, properties with Read-o-matic (ROM) remote reading devices will be deactivated. The ROM will remain on the exterior wall of the property to protect any siding, stone, brick, or stucco exterior. The property owner may remove the device at any time or leave it installed. The picture below shows a Read-o-matic device that was previously wired to the meter in the basement and installed on the exterior of the property. The new radio device is typically installed right on top of the new meter, but we can also remotely mount the radio read device if transmission is not optimized.
City employees will be installing the new meter and radio read device, removing the old meter, and deactivation the Read-o-matic (ROM) remote reading devices. City employees will arrive in a City marked truck or van and will have City ID badges. We recommend a 3 foot radius around the meter to allow the work to be completed in a safe manner. Please remove anything blocking the meter before the appointment.
The West Allis Municipal Water Utility will send you a letter asking you to schedule a water meter exchange. You can schedule this appointment at your convenience, Monday through Friday with the earliest appointment at 7:30 am and the latest appointment at 2:15 pm. For residential meters, the appointment should take around 30 minutes. For commercial, industrial, and other customers, the appointments can range from 30 minutes to 8 hours depending on the size of the meter. Access to the meter needs to be available at all times. If you do cover up the meter, then make sure we are able to access it with a 3 foot radius in order to work on it if needed.
If the inlet and/or outlet valve are not working, then we will attempt to shut off the water at the curb stop. We recommend replacing any valves that are not working to ensure you will be able to shut-off water in the event of an emergency. You can contact a plumber to replace the valves. The City will not replace the valves for you unless we would happen to damage them during the appointment. Valves should be exercised regularly to reduce the likelihood of seizing and being inoperable in an emergency.
There will be temporary service interruption during the meter replacement. The water service is typically off for 20 minutes. Once water service is restored, the City employee will attempt to purge any air trapped in the service line. If some air is left in the line, you may notice a sputtering sound the first time you operate a fixture. This should only last a few seconds and will not cause any harm. The first few gallons of water may be discolored. We recommend running the water until it is clear. This should not take more than five minutes.
There is no charge for the meter replacement. The only time the City will charge for a meter is if the meter is damaged. A meter can be damaged by not keeping the area around the meter warm enough to prevent freezing. If the water in the meter freezes, then the bottom of the meter is designed to crack to help avoid pipes bursting in your property.
A device is installed with the meter that will transmit a radio signal to a data collector as the meter reader drives by. With previous technology, a meter reader would be required to walk up to a device installed on the exterior of the home and manually enter a reading in the data collector.
The water meter is installed in the basement of most properties. Properties without basements typically have a utility closet where the furnace, water heater, and other mechanicals for the property are stored. The meter is on the street side of the property where the water line connects to the property from the water main. The picture below is an example of a water meter.
Pictured below are two examples of water meters that are installed in properties in West Allis.
Meter readings are obtained automatically over radio frequency and transmissions are 100% accurate. Our meters are tested and/or replaced periodically. Nearly 100% of the meters tested are 98.5%-101.5% accurate.