City Budget Could Cut More Core Services
Several Waukesha alderman have spoken against a proposed $136 garbage fee, but that means $2.7 million need to be cut for tax freeze.
A list of $1.2 million in possible cuts to bridge the $2.7 million that is needed to keep a tax freeze without adding in garbage fees could reduce funding to core city services.
The list, which was e-mailed to the Common Council on Wednesday, was prepared to show the aldermen who are reviewing the budget the possible impacts that not approving a $136 garbage fee would have on city services.
The garbage fee would be placed on the tax bills on the city property owners that use the service. Businesses and condo associations that pay for separate pick up in addition to property taxes would not be charged
The Finance Committee has not yet finalized review of the budget or given a recommendation on cuts.
Among the possible cuts includes a police officer position, a reduction in police overtime and reducing the number of police radios replacements and delaying the replacement of an ambulance until 2013.
Another item on the list of nearly four dozen possible changes to the budget includes reducing the budget for the city’s road salt by $96,440, which at $53.16 a ton would reduce the city’s budgeted salt supply by about 1,814 tons.
The city’s recommended budget includes $470,000 for salt supplies, which is about 8,841 tons. The city currently has 4,200 tons of salt in reserves – 1,200 left from last winter and 3,000 that was purchased for the winter storms that are likely to begin in December.
However, because the budget is on annual basis, the salt supplies that are in the 2012 budget would be for the beginning of 2012, as well as the start of the 2012-13 winter.
The last few years, the city has used between 8,000 and 11,000 tons of salt, said Department of Public Works Director Fred Abadi during Tuesday night’s meeting.
“There is no such thing as average winter in Wisconsin,” Abadi said.
The Next Steps
While the list of $1.2 million identified as areas that could face the chopping block if the Common Council decides to not implement a garbage fee, it still would need to cut $1.5 million more from the budget to reach a tax freeze.
Even by cutting the $1.2 million, the property tax levy would increase by 2.95 percent and the median home in the city would see its property taxes increase by $54.33 in the 2012 budget, according to the newest budget document given to the Common Council.
If the council decides to put the garbage collection back in the budget and cut $2.7 million from other areas, the cuts could potentially layoff police and fire employees.
“Potentially, they could come from anywhere,” said Finance Director Steve Neaman in an e-mail.
The staff-recommended and Mayor Jeff Scrima-supported $125,123,000 spending plan includes a 2.43 percent spending decrease compared to last year. The $56.2 million general fund operating budget decreased 1.19 percent compared to the $57.9 million budgeted in 2011.
The city eliminated $3.6 million from its budget due to reductions in state aid. To offset the decrease, officials proposed a garbage, recycling and large-item disposal fee in the budget, which is projected to cost residents $136 a year.
Other cuts already are proposed in the recommended 2012 budget. They include:
- Unfunded vacant positions; $223,000
- Two police vehicles; $55,800
- Asphalt grinder; $136,000
- Borrowing for a Parks & Recreation vehicle; $26,000