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
The Budget, La Follette, Water Utility, Collecting Brush and More
La Follette HS: Glendale Neighborhood Association is organizing a community meeting about safety at La Follette and in the surrounding neighborhood. There will be representatives of the School District, Chief Koval and Capt. Snyder of the East District and Alders on the recent incidents near the H.S.
The meeting will take place THIS MONDAY (Oct. 1st) at 6:30 at Sennett M.S.
Note: Capt. Snyder reported today that suspects related to the recent shooting were arrested and are not students although the injured person is a student.
The Mayor's proposal for the 2019 budget has been reviewed and discussed by the Council.
The Capital Budget is the first budget under review. The budget calls for $203 million in spending for capital projects. Of that, $110 million will be borrowed. The major projects are:
New garages for the city fleet on Nakoosa Trail (old Cub Foods site): $30 million
Repair of the "bus barn" on E. Wash: $7 million
Pinney Library: $9 million
Judge Doyle Square Parking: $50 million
Olbrich Gardens Bldg: $5 million
Public Market: $13 million
This will increase our debt expense to 18.1% of our budget by 2021. That means that we will be spending 18 cents on the dollar for our debt. This is an increase from 14 % in 2015.
Doyle Square: I opposed the $50 million expense on the six-story deep parking garage on Wilson St. The Judge Doyle Sq. project which is now- and once again- up in the air due to an on-going dispute with the contractor. Nonetheless, the $50 million parking ramp that will replace the East Wilson ramp is well underway. I have confidence that the City does not go forward with an additional $11 million cap in the hope that it will entice the builder to get their work underway. Or will it merely have the builder ask for more money to finish the project?
Public Market: The proposed $13 million "public market" on First St. and E. Washington is now likely to include a major housing project and, of course, a hotel. This food store is within 2-3 miles of more food markets than probably any other possible location in the city. It's within a mile of Jenifer St. Market, two miles from Festival Foods on E. Wash, two and three miles from TWO Willy St. Coops (east and north) and not far from Woodmans.
In addition to the building the market using city tax dollars, I've now learned that the operators of the market argue that they should not have to pay property taxes or a fee for city services (fire, trash, police, etc.). The water utility, parking utility and even Monona Terrace pay these fees and the Public Market should not be exempt.
Operating Budget: The operating budget hasn't been officially introduced as yet, but I know that this budget will be very similar to the last. We will receive the operating budget next week and vote on the whole package in November.
City Taxes: It is likely that the city tax levy will increase by 2.8%. For a home assessed at $200,000, this will mean an additional tax of $56 per year or a total CITY tax of about $1800.
I think that this increase is high and we should and could reduce spending to about 2%.
Note: I will provide an update during the month if there are significant developments in regard to the budget.
Water Utility: The state Public Service Commission will approve a 37% increase in residential rates starting in November. The enormous debt owed by the Utility has caused the city's bond rating to change from "stable" to "negative" (but still an AAa) rating. A majority of the Water Utility Board, of which I am a member, recommended that the city NOT renew the contract of the General Manager. The Mayor ignored the recommendation, renewed the five-year contract and gave him a $6,000 raise.
In reference to the city's downgraded rating, the city's Director of Finance wrote, "The report is also clear that challenges to Water Utility financial position that necessitates further support from the general fund could potentially place additional downward pressure on the city's credit rating for all of its debt." That roughly translates to:"If the Utility continues to borrow millions of dollars from the city, we're going to go down with it."
Community Bonds: From Oct. 3-9, you can purchase City of Madison Community Bonds, in $500 denominations, to support the expansion of Olbrich Botanical Gardens, specifically, the education center and greenhouse.
There will be a meeting to discuss the offering on Wednesday, Oct. 3rd at 6 PM at Olbrich Gardens. You can also learn more at www.cityofmadison.com/community-bonds.
Police Calls: Which day of the week do you think has the most police calls for service?
I was surprised to see that the greatest number of calls came on Thursday. Calls on Thursday are almost 50% than on Friday and 90% higher on Sunday. The data were provided by Captain Snyder of the East District in an analysis of the 2,115 calls for service in August.
The most common calls were traffic stops followed by requests to check property and people. None of the "top 15" calls were at least initially "crimes against people or property."
Brush Collection Underway: The Streets Division will begin the final round of brush collection on Monday, October 1. Residents who wish to use the curbside brush collection service should have their brush to the curb prior to October 1.
When placing brush out for collection, residents should be sure the brush has the cut ends all facing the same direction and piles should be four feet away from obstructions like fire hydrants and street signs. Also, brush piles should be kept separate from yard waste piles. Brush collection and yard waste collection are different operations. Piles of brush and yard waste mixed together will not be picked up.
Madison residents and taxpayers can also bring their brush to the brush drop-off site at 4602 Sycamore Ave. The site is open seven days a week from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and until 8:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Additional information about brush collection, including a short video that explains brush collection operations, can be found on the Streets Division's brush website, www.cityofmadison.com/brushcollection.
Pinney on Oct. 9th: I will be at Pinney Library on Tuesday, Oct. 9th at 10 AM to participate in the regular "Community Coffee and Conversation." I am interested in your views on the budget.
If you are unable to attend and have comments or concerns, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 334-1156.
Hope you are enjoying the dramatic change in the weather.
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