Alder David Ahrens
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Ahrens’ Updates
In a 19-1 vote, the Common Council passed a budget that is funded by a 5.2% increase in the levy with spending at about that rate.
I was the sole "no" vote on a budget that:
- Spends $315 million in operations
- Spends $333 million for capital investments
- Borrows $158 million for the building programs.
For a home valued at $250,000, it will increase the property tax by about $90 for a city tax of $2330. Given increases in the school levy, county, etc. the total tax for this home would be $7375.
I voted against the budget because the increase in spending is about three times the rate of inflation. This is not fair for taxpayers and is it is not sustainable. This is the third year in which increases in spending were much greater than (increases in) inflation. City employees' pay increased by 1%; however, we have more employees and many are in the higher pay brackets.
Second, is the $7 million expenditure for the proposed Public Market on First St. and E. Washington Ave. When Mayor Soglin first proposed the market in 2014, the total cost was about $6 million, with the city paying $2 million or one-third. The 2017 budget was up to $13 million, with the city paying $4.25 million- also one third. However, in 2018, the Mayor proposed that the city pay $7 million or 58% of the cost.
The budget for the market assumes that private donations will provide about $3 million and the Federal government will contribute $3 million. I don't think that either assumption will be realized.
It's likely that the federal government will play a reduced role in assisting local services. We will lose federal aid for housing, law enforcement and helping people who need mental or physical health services. The city cannot substitute for all of the loses in federal aid. We may be able to fill in here and there but our role is limited by levy limits and taxpayers' ability to pay.
I asked my colleagues on the Council if they viewed the construction of the public market as the number one priority for the city. Although I think few would say that it is, most voted for the project.
As noted, one of the bright spots was the addition of $400,000 to hopefully match a federal grant for seven additional police officers in 2018 and eight in 2019. This should ease the burden of the officers who have worked long hours over the past year, often in difficult circumstances.
Local Items of Interest:
We held onto the funding for Pinney Library for the third (or is it the fourth?) year. Architects and engineers have been working with community groups and sharing ideas about what should go where in the new 20,000 SF building.
The city will split the cost of a new education/horticulture/welcoming center for Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The Gardens Friends organization has raised about $4.5 million which the city will match.
The long-awaited rebuilding of Buckeye Rd. will get underway when the school year ends in 2018. It will improve the pedestrian crossings in the Allis School area and add sidewalks on the south side of the street. Unfortunately, it will not improve the confusing and dangerous intersection on Hwy 51.
Reminder: Alternate side of the street parking begins TONIGHT!
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