Rice, Cooked Part 2 & PAC Mail

Sunday, July 31, 2011

You may recall from my blog "Rice, Cooked" in May, that the Milwaukee County Board approved a preliminary plan to redistrict the county that dissected Whitefish Bay.

Part of Whitefish Bay will be added to Milwaukee's East Side district.  The other part will be added to Milwaukee's northern district.  This move, effectively consolidates more power for the City of Milwaukee, redacting one suburban district.

The preliminary plan was widely panned by groups near and far.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was against it, as was the NAACP, the Milwaukee Intergovernmental Cooperation Council, and Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Franklin, Fox Point, Greendale, Greenfield, River Hills and Whitefish Bay all passed official resolutions demanding the County to get public input and re-draw the districts instead of this crude hatched job on aimed at one Supervisor.

This redistricting plan will have zero effect on the balance of power and governance of Milwaukee County.   Reducing the suburban voice by one will simply make the eternal suburban minority a bit smaller.  However, it should infuriate suburban citizens, especially those on the North Shore. 

Last week, to no one's surprise, the Milwaukee Supervisors voted 13-7 to approve this plan, as those 13 get to keep their jobs and punish Supervisor Rice.  It's now waiting for Co. Executive Chris Abele to sign or veto.

Frankly, Abele would be well served if he vetoed it.   He is, after all, up for re-election next year.

With Abele's approval, he guarantees 13 votes for his re-election campaign next year, from 13 thankful Supervisors.

With a veto, he gains hero status from the long list of groups who have voiced opposition, including North Shore voters and thousands of suburban voters.  Even if the veto is overridden, he wins credibility as the adult in the room.


Want to weigh in?  Send a short note to Chris Abele, asking him to veto this plan.  He's the last hope.  Write soon, though, it could be signed as early as Monday.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele
Email:  countyexec@milwcnty.com

Phone: (414) 278-4211

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POLITICAL MAIL

Dear Political Action Committees:  

Thank you for the 22 pieces of mail over the past week. 

I'm pretty sure I speak for most everyone in the 8th Senate District when I say that your negative adverts go straight from our mailbox to the recycling bin. 

Thanks for supporting the US Postal Service, though.


Signed,
Everyone.

Taking a look at my mail, the PAC score is 5 to 1.

Attacking Darling: The Sierra Club, Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, We are Wisconsin, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters

Attacking Pasch:  American Federation for Children

I may not be getting all the PAC mail, but with those numbers, it indicates that a lot of outside money is flowing to Whitefish Bay's Rep. Pasch.  

4th of July .. City Market News

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I wanted to write a short note about the 4th of July Parade and festival on Monday:

It.

Was.

Awesome.

Spectacular weather, huge, huge crowds along the parade route and at Klode Park.  You might have noticed more of the parade participants were in vehicles / trailers, which was by design.  And a new Beer Lemonade Garden at Klode, with partitioned picnic tables which seemed to be busy all day.   Even the fireworks were upgraded from last year.

Join me in thanking the WFB Civic Foundation for their dedication in pulling off this Norman Rockwell event, year after year.  The sheer hours these folks put in to gift this day to Villagers is astounding.

Hats off to the 4th Chairs and Parade organizers, Paul Dryden, Brian Gaertner, Andy Busalacchi, Hugo Rojas, Tracy Rothman, Jay Kuehn, Crystal Luehne, Amy Lukas, Suzanne LaFleur, Mike Bortolotti, Ann Pasterski, Mark Szumski, Anne O'Connor, Gwen Koscinski and Dave Arnold -- along with 100+ other volunteers who staffed the event.  -- They gave up their 4th for you.


One note about the parade .. some have commented on a group that was in the parade, a protest group perhaps linked with the "SDS," protesting war, or imperialism or whatever kids protest these days.  The group was not an official entrant in the parade, and had indeed "crashed" the line.   They jumped in for a few blocks, then apparently left.  A similar issue occurred last year.   The WFB Civic Foundation would never willingly allow any sort of political or protest group to intrude upon this family friendly event. 


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Lastly .. CITY MARKET IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

Run the Bay

Friday, May 20, 2011

This is just a quick blog to remind people that tomorrow (Saturday, May 21) is Run the Bay.

The 5K run/walk starts at 9am, so if you live near the route (see map) take a few moments to line the streets and cheer on the runners.

More information can be found here.

And, if you'd like to donate to help support Run the Bay, whose proceeds to go the WFB Schools, donate a few bucks online by clicking here.

Date: Saturday, 5/21
Time: 9AM

Rice, Cooked.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

In Milwaukee County Government, the elected Supervisors and County Executive positions are "non-partisan" .. but one can easily split the Supervisors into two philosophical camps:  Those that represent City of Milwaukee residents, and those who represent suburban interests.   Since the population of the City outweighs that of the suburbs, the City enjoys a perpetual majority on the County Board.  Like him or not, former County Exec Scott Walker's suburban bias helped keep some semblance of balance, although his vetoes were often overturned.  Such is life in the minority.

Last week, City Supervisors decided to make their majority a little bigger.   County Supervisors gerrymandered one more seat for the city and will slice our 6th District out of existence in 2012.   Previously, the 6th District was the northeast corner of Milwaukee County, starting with Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, Bayside, River Hills and parts of Glendale, Brown Deer and Milwaukee.

The North Shore suburban voice will now be silenced as Whitefish Bay will be added to Milwaukee's East Side district.  Fox Point, Bayside, River Hills .. will be added to Milwaukee's northern district.  This move, effectively merges two city, and one suburban "seat" into two city seats.    The redistricting passed the County Board by a vote of 11-7, and newly elected County Exec Chris Abele decided not to sign nor veto the legislation, explaining "I strongly considered vetoing this measure, but it appears that a veto would not be sustained."

Since a veto could only be overturned with 13 votes, Abele is either really bad at math, or used a pretty sloppy excuse for his actions. 

Either way, Whitefish Bay's Supervisor Joe Rice, will be out of a job in 2012.  A suburban voice has no chance of winning a district dominated by Milwaukee's Downtown and East-Side residents.

Of course, the policy effect before and after the 6th District is erased, is zero.  City Supervisors have a perpetual majority and the suburban supervisors have little ability to win important votes.

As a note, the 19 municipalities that make up the County, excluding the City of Milwaukee, accounted for 37% of the population yet pay 53% of the County tax levy.

To recap: Milwaukee County, where most services are delivered in the City of Milwaukee to their own residents, while most of the funding comes from suburban taxpayers, has voted to further reduce suburban representation.  Thanks, Milwaukee.  You're a pal. 

Dear Ozaukee County,


You lookin' to expand? 


Signed, The North Shore.

Out with the Old, in with the New.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

GOODBYE PRITCHARD & FEHRING

With the April elections over, this week marks the end of the Katie Pritchard era, as she completes nine years of service to the Village, and by service, I mean unbelievable service.   The number of hours she spent on Village business is well into the thousands, a sacrifice extremely few are willing to make.

Trustee Tom Fehring is also closing out his term.  Both will be missed, as we welcome two new Board members, Brenda Szumski and Lauri Rollings.

CONSOLIDATION UPDATE

At the last Village Board meeting, Whitefish Bay moved closer to consolidating its 911-Dispatch services with Bayside, which I think is great news.  The deal was worked and re-worked over the past several months, and is now estimated to save Whitefish Bay around $230,000 over 10 years, and another $40k per year after that, over baseline.

The other major benefit is .. if you've ever called 911 from a cell phone, you'd know the call gets routed first to the Milwaukee County dispatch, who can take a while to answer.  They redirect the call to the right dispatch center.  -- After this consolidation, if you are within Whitefish Bay (and the other consolidated communities) your 911 cell phone call will go directly to our dispatch -- a huge benefit.

The other consolidation on the forefront is one with the North Shore Health Department, and the Villages are nearing the goal-line on that as well.

RUN THE BAY

Run The Bay 5k Walk/Run & Kids Run is May 21, 2011.   Click here to register or donate to the event, supporting WFB Schools.


GREEN DAY IN THE BAY

The Whitefish Bay Civic Foundation is hosting the 4th annual Green Day in the Bay again, Saturday April 30th.

GDIB still needs teams/volunteers for the one-hour Village-wide cleanup event at 9am.  
*** Please email Dave@wfbcivicfoundation.org if you can spare an hour to help clean the Bay. ***


The Green even at Cahill Park will go from 10am-noon.  They are again hosting the valuable "eWaste" collection of old TVs, computers, cell phones, etc. 

One new element to Green Day in the Bay is the debut of the Rain Barrel Street Art project.  Thirty Rain Barrels were painted by artists .. and are simply an awesome sight.   You can see and "vote" for them on this page.



NEWS LINKS

WFB School & Village Board Election 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tuesday is election day in Whitefish Bay, with School & Village Board positions on the ballot.  You can see the entire sample ballot here.

As you'll notice, there are no candidates listed on the ballot for the two Village Trustee positions, however, four candidates are official write-ins.

I attended Patch's candidate forum last week and honestly found all four candidates to be solid citizens who I applaud for stepping forward.  Martin, Demet, Rollings and Szumski all show capacity to listen, reason, and question in varying degrees.

(As a point of information, I hadn't met any of the candidates prior to the campaign.  Frankly, I'm just pleased we could got volunteers.)

I think the candidate who showed that she could bring the most to the table is Lauri Rollings.   As a former MMSD employee, she could offer the Village an enormous amount of specific knowledge on sewer function .. and malfunction.  Rollings could replace our current sewer expert, Trustee Fehring, who decided not to volunteer for another term.

On one of the other candidate's websites, there has been an attempt to link Rollings to MMSD in a negative light.   I hope that doesn't sway anyone, as Rollings no longer works for MMSD, but also, the page in question has inaccurate rhetoric that needs the "Politifact" treatment.   Frankly, it's disappointing that a Whitefish Bay race has even a whiff of mud slinging.

Before you go vote, make sure you remember your TWO picks, since these write-ins will not appear on the ballot:
  • Andrew Martin, PhD - University of Iowa / UWM Professor
  • Brenda Szumski, MA - University of Denver / Manager of Network Services
  • Lauri Rollings, JD - Stanford / Self-Employed Consultant
  • William Demet, WFB High School / Marquette Student
You will need to write in their names AND fill in the little arrow to indicate a vote.  Exact spelling isn't mandatory.  If you are off a letter or two on someone's name, and the Clerk can figure out your intent, that'll be good enough.  Click here to read a media Voter Guide.

There are three solid School Board candidates for two spots:  Marie Greco and Jim Phillips are incumbents, volunteering for another term ..  while Anne Kearney, a Harvard law grad with a new voice is a solid candidate.

Here are some links to make up your mind:

Trustee Candidate Forum - Tomorrow, Wednesday March 30th

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The WFB Village Trustee election is next week, and I'm pleased to see that Patch is holding a Candidate Forum for the four write-in candidates.

Date: Wednesday March 30th - 7-8:30pm

These past few days, I've been trying to think up with a good question to ask of these candidates.  Surprisingly, I have none.

There are a bunch of obvious questions.  Except all of the obvious questions have obvious answers.

Q: Should we fix our sewers?  How?
A: Yes!  This is important.  We should fix them up real good in a cost effective manner by tomorrow or sooner.  I'm committed to that.

Q: What are your thoughts on Silver Spring?
A: Silver Spring is important!  We must keep a healthy business district.  And let's get another restaurant or two.

Q: How about taxes?  You going to hold the line on property taxes?
A: Oh, yeah.  I'm all in favor of that.  I'm fiscally conservative.

Q: What do you think of Village communications?
A: We need to do a better job!  I'm all in favor of more information.


Since there's much agreement on the obvious questions, what I'm personally looking for is .. what experience does each candidate bring to the table?   Are they able to critically reason and question? 

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I'd also like to comment on something we "resolved" at last week's Trustee meeting.  We passed a resolution that requested some modification to the Wisconsin State Budget proposal, specifically, the ability for each municipality to do what they've been doing every year:  Decide what services the community demands, and decide the sacrifice necessary to provide them.

The 2011-13 Budget Proposal cuts numerous sources of revenue for WFB (estimated near $400k now) and limits municipalities from raising their tax levy to cover this shortfall, which provokes cuts.  A portion of that is made up by demanding more health care and pension contributions from employees, but a large chunk remains.

So I voted for the resolution based on the concept that I do believe in local control.  However, a caveat:  Regardless of the proposed tax levy freeze, I suggested that Whitefish Bay start with a budget proposal that has a zero percent levy increase, which is something other communities have accomplished. 

(As a note, we have been advised that that the tax levy can continue to rise if new debt is issued.  This is important for all future sewer projects, which are financed by new debt.  As a reminder, WFB's financial picture is extremely sound.)

News Links:

Storm Water, Sewer Study Expected By July

Whitefish Bay Hires Former Oak Creek Administrator as New Village Manager

School District Working Toward Creating a Communications Plan

Whitefish Bay Week in Review: March 20 to March 27

Darling in the Fight of Her Political Career


VM Search & Sewer Updates..

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A few tid-bits:

1. TONIGHT (Wednesday March 23) -Local historian, author, and rock-star Trustee Tom Fehring is doing a presentation at the WFB Library at 7pm. From Tom:

I plan on talking about the early history of the Village and linking that to some of the historical homes within Whitefish Bay.  I will also talk about some of the history leads that I am pursuing – a topic that I call “fishing the Bay.”  Finally, I will show some of the images from the book, as well as some interesting photographs that didn’t make it into the book because of size limitations.  

2.  Congrats to the Blue Dukes, State Champions .. and my beloved Marquette Warriors for getting to the Sweet 16.  That's a big deal around the Buckley house, as we are both MU alums.   The victory over Syracuse was my birthday wish, with candles being blown out moments before the game.

The birthday, however, was marred by SOME HOOLIGAN STEALING MY MARQUETTE FLAG off the front of my house.   If you know any Xavier or Syracuse fans in Bay, please check out their closets for my flag.   If "found" please return to my house, no questions asked.

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The Trustees have been putting in lots of hours lately, meeting 4 of the last 5 days.

Most of the time has been spent interviewing Village Manager candidates.  From a personal perspective, while my wife wasn't pleased with being a single mom this past week, the process was one of the most satisfying issues I've been a part of during my term on the Village Board.  I believe we had several home-run applicants, and I'm honestly excited for one of them to take the helm. 

The "big" news at the regular meeting came from our sewer consultants, Donohue, who explained their report would be delayed until late Fall.   There are no residents more discouraged than the seven Trustees with this result. 

The explanation, which I will simplify, is that Donohue used the sewer "model" that was created 10 years ago and updated it but when they received the resident surveys (a very solid 50% return rate) and tested the model versus actual flooding, the model didn't work, and needs "calibration."

How do you calibrate?  You buy/rent flow meters and scatter them around WFB's system and wait for some rain events that yield data.   Donohue suggests this could take all summer .. but if we "get lucky" and have a wet month, the report could come quicker.

I often get comments about how long "fixing the sewers" is taking, which begs the concept some think this massive problem can be solved quickly.   It can't.   Remember, in 1999 and 2002, we had studies, we executed the recommendations.  WFB probably flooded "differently" due to the many fixes, but we still flooded.  (Please remember, with nearly 2x the rain in a shorter time span in 2010, fewer homes were flooded in 2010with 8" than in 1997's 4" inches of rain.  That indicates progress.  Not enough to combat a historic rainfall, certainly.)

These are enormous engineering projects for the Village, and it shouldn't be surprising that they take time to research, and 3-6 months to "engineer."   I hope people understand that when you have a 9 month research project and add 3-6 more to engineer .. that these project(s) will begin in 2012. 

That being said, we DO have $5m in Capital projects slated for 2011, which do include storm and sanitary sewer projects.

Two things I can guarantee:

1.These projects will be expensive.
2.They will take longer to complete than everyone wants.  

We will persevere. 

And to note, citizen attendance at Monday's meeting was a far cry from last year's sewer update meetings.   The Trustees are there, every time, and this is remains our #1 priority. 

VM Search and .. Go Blue Dukes.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Village Manager Search Update:

The Village Board narrowed the pool down to five candidates last week.  Here's the list, plus a few of each candidates' highlights, listed in alpha order:

  • Patrick Boyle - Masters of Public Admin from UWM.  Boyle worked in WFB's Village Hall from 2001-2005 as the Assistant to the VM, and Management Assistant, before leaving to be Cedarburg's City Administrator.
  • Curt Carver - Northern Illinois University, U of Virginia, and Harvard.  Has been Village Administrator for Carpenter, then Inverness, Illinois.
  • Paul Evert - Georgetown, then law school at UW-Madison.  City Attorney, then Assistant City Administrator for Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
  • Denise Pieroni - Marquette, MPA from U of Illinois-Springfield.  City Admin for Jefferson, WI, Village Manager of Barrington, Illinois.
  • Jason Slowinski - UWM, then law school at John Marshall (Chicago), Assistant Village Admin, River Forest, Assistant City Manager then Interim City Manager of Des Plaines, IL
I think this is a solid field, with individuals who have a good range of experience and education.  Next week, these candidates will be brought in for two days of final interviews and selection. 
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Looks like I underestimated the School District's budget deficit when I guessed it would be $1.5m.  It's worse: $2.06m, which is around 7% of last year's budget, before any inflation is figured in.  (Even 1% inflation factor increases the budget by $330k.)

The contract with the Teachers' Union expires at the end of this school year.   Apparently SB11, which requires more pension and health premium contributions from teachers will mean teachers will pay $810k more for their benefits, saving the District that amount, but leaving at least $1.2m in deficit.

As a guide, WFB has 214 teachers educating 3,006 students.   Imagine a dozen teachers being laid off, 5% of the force.

It will be very interesting how the School District, Board, and Teachers' Union work together over the next 6 months. 

By the way .. there is a 3 way race for 2 slots on the School Board -- a candidate forum is being held tomorrow, Monday, March 14th at the WFB library at 7pm.


A few other news bits:
  • During last week's Trustee meeting, we had an agenda item that I think some folks misread as a condemnation of the proposed 2011-13 State Budget.  The Village Board wanted to address one specific element of the Budget, namely the loss of local control of our tax levy.  The wording wasn't quite right, so it was tabled.
  • I was really pleased to read that Rep. Sensenbrenner's Whitefish Bay Town Hall meeting was cordial.  
  • Congrats to the Whitefish Bay girls and boys basketball teams for advancing this weekend.

News Links:

Budget Ponderings..

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's been difficult to cobble together the ramifications on Whitefish Bay from Gov. Walker's 2011-2013 budget proposal.

Firstly, the Village itself appears to have a $35k cut in shared revenue, a $75k cut in state transportation aid, and a $100k cut in the grant the State gives WFB for its recycling program.  $210k in cuts.

To put that in perspective, the Village's annual budget is $13.8m .. so a $210k cut is 1.5%, which is a manageable figure.

The bigger issue is that the Budget proposal also implements a 0% tax levy increase mandate.    WFB's annual tax levy increase is usually in the 1-2-3% range each year, driven by a variety of factors, but mostly two:  healthcare premium increases, and as of late, debt service increases.

Health premiums have been climbing at a fast clip, and last year they increased 10%, this year +8%.   WFB's debt service has increased the past 4-5 years mainly due to our accelerated pace of infrastructure rehab, namely, road, sewer, and water line construction.  These past two years, WFB has spent more on construction than it has in decades.  -- And with numerous sewer projects on the horizon, debt service will continue to climb.  (WFB has an outstanding credit rating, and indeed have a relatively low debt load.)

Debt service increases are usually exempt from tax levy increase limits.  Apparently, that will continue to be the case, meaning Whitefish Bay's sewer projects will be able to go forward.   (Whew.)

A $210k reduction in aid from the State, plus a typical $2-300k (2-3%) increase in the cost of keeping the Village open each year makes things tough.   Mandate that all of that figure is cut, and zero of that is passed on to residents .. and suddenly you have an elephant in the room.

And .. Whitefish Bay is in good financial shape.  As a reminder, our municipal tax rate is the 3rd lowest in Milwaukee County.    Most communities will have it far tougher.

Move on to the WFB School District, and the issues are far bigger.  According to this analysis, the district could be headed for a $700/student cut, around $1.8m on their $32m budget, or 5.6%.   Add in the typical 2-3% yearly inflation, and you're around $2.5m in cuts.  (Perpetual disclaimer:  I do not have any real data on this situation, I'm just taking a quasi-informed guess.)

Regardless of the final numbers, with the State budget the way it is, restricting this loss of revenue from being made up by local taxation, cuts around the edges won't close a gap that size.  That means district layoffs or, as Gov. Walker argues, increased pension and health contributions, and/or reductions in benefit plans.

This is why I'd argue for a some alteration of the 0% tax levy increase proposal.  It is understandable what Gov. Walker is proposing, namely, he doesn't want a tax shift from the State down to municipalities allowing them to raise taxes locally to make up for the loss in State funding.

On a macro level, the theory may make sense.  On a micro level, it removes the ability for localities to make decisions for themselves.  Each local community should do what it does every year, namely, decide what level of service the community wants, and what level of support is acceptable and necessary to do it.
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(By the way, the last time I wrote about the budget, I was accused of spreading liberal propaganda, which gave me a good chuckle.)

News Links:

Police Consolidation, Village Manager Search, Election Update

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just a few items from this past week.

Firstly, Shorewood's police chief gave a presentation on the idea of merging the Whitefish Bay and Shorewood police departments. 

The highlights are:

  • A new police station would be required to house the combined departments .. currently estimated at $5m and potentially housed in Shorewood on Wilson Drive.  
  • A combined force could mean a reduction of 5 members, mostly supervisory.   This is where the bulk of the projected $500k/year savings occurs.
  • Due to the $5m building cost above, the savings to each community, if split exactly evenly, is in the $70k per year range.  Naturally, this number is of the back-of-the-napkin variety.   After the $5m ($2.5m for WFB) is paid off in 20 years, the savings would increase quite a bit.
From a personal level, I'm interested in this prospect.   I've heard folks suggest that combining forces with Shorewood gives up some of the local character of Whitefish Bay.   Truth is, we've been combining with other municipalities for years.  Our fire departments are shared.  Our water and sewage systems.  Our health departments.  Our 911 dispatch.  

I'm asking:  Would a squad car with, for example, "North Shore PD" rather than "Whitefish Bay PD" be a big deal to you?

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This week, the Trustees heard the results of our Whitefish Bay Village Manager job posting.  We received 60 applicants from 4 states.  About a third of the applicants had the right education and experience backgrounds to be successful in Whitefish Bay. 

There was a good mix of men and women, with a wide spectrum of experience, and I'm encouraged by the field.

We've narrowed the field down to around a dozen candidates, and will trim the field further in about two weeks. 

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The Whitefish Bay Trustee race had a few changes this past week .. we went down to 3, then back to 4 write-in candidates.

  • Hugo Rojas has withdrawn his name due to work related conflicts.
  • Brenda Szumski has filed papers to be the 4th write-in candidate.
  • Finally, write-in candidate Lauri Rollings has changed jobs .. she was working as an attorney for MMSD, which to some meant she'd have some conflict of interest issues during our sewer projects.  This is no longer the case.  Click here for details.

What Happens in Madison .. doesn't stay in Madison

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I've been wondering how this week's political soap opera in Madison impacts Whitefish Bay.

Beyond the discussion on public unions' collective bargaining rights: the train coming down the tunnel is a potential $1 billion dollar cut in state aid for schools. 

In a recent JS article, MPS was expecting a $500 per child aid cut.  Applied to WFB, that's a $1.5m loss.  And usually, property rich districts are cut more than MPS, so $1.5m may be on the low end of what we might expect.  Could be much more. (Disclaimer: What do I know.)  For the sake of this blog, let's say $1.5m.

So how does our School District make that up? 

Well, they could lay off teachers.  (Raise your hand if you want your kid to be in a class with 30+ kids, instead of 22-25.)

They could re-negotiate (or dictate that) the teacher contracts cut ~$1.5m in salary/benefits.   That would be "more possible" if the State does indeed limit Public Employee Unions from negotiating on anything but salary.

It's one thing when Harley Davidson says demand is down, they need to demand union cuts.  It's another for Whitefish Bay to attempt that.  We've got a high performing school district and a community that values it, not to mention a community on the upper curve of financial capacity relative to the rest of Wisconsin. Quite the opposite of private sector companies demanding cuts.  Not to say it couldn't happen.  The State is in a financial crisis. 

I'm not advocating one path or the other .. I'm just honestly mystified on what the end-game is. 

If I had to take a guess here, it would be this:  Teacher health and pension benefits will be reduced, but not nearly enough to match the reduction in state aid.  The remainder will be made up with local school district tax levy increases.  Possibly quite large, although there are laws that govern levy increases.

In short, Gov. Walker holding the line on taxes in Madison .. will likely increase property taxes in Whitefish Bay and most other districts.

By the way, if you are curious to know how much your kid's teacher makes, the Journal Sentinel has a database that contains the figures.  Most are in the $30-70k range, an average of $55k, with benefits in the $15-35k range.  The benefits number can be quite large, mostly dependent on whether the teacher takes the health insurance, which is in the $20's -- as it is for many SE Wisconsin private sector companies as well.

Another disclaimer:  I know no more than what I read on this issue, I haven't spoken to anyone on the WFB School Board.  My guess is they wouldn't have much to say either, as the future of this next state budget is a mystery to them as well. 

Speaking from a municipal perspective, state aid for municipalities will most likely be cut too, however, in percentage terms, it is not a huge part of our Village budget, so the effect will be far smaller than state aid cuts for Schools.

Other news links:
Lights installed in Whitefish Bay
Parents protest outside Cumberland
Students can earn cash tipping off cops
Lauri Rollings interview - Whitefish Bay Trustee Candidate

February Flotsam

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm pleased to write there's now a 4-way race for Village Trustee via write-in.   Hugo Rojas has filed papers to run for the Village Board.

You'll need to remember their names, as none of these people will show up on the ballot in April, as they will all be write-ins.  Andy Martin - UWM professor, Will Demet - student, Lauri Rollings - lawyer, and now Hugo Rojas - lawyer.

I remember a few years ago, listening to Villagers gripe about the make-up of the Village Board being all lawyers.  That's not true today.  The current board has one (retired) lawyer, Trustee Jay Miller.

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This week, the Village Board approved a use permit for the PNC Bank lot on the corner of Lydell and Silver Spring.

As I've written before, I can't say I'm enthused to have yet another bank on Silver Spring, as we are already have more than our share.    However, they are also building a 4-slot retail building, so Villagers can look forward to some new merchants for Silver Spring this year.

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I've been asked to plug the Whitefish Bay Civic Foundation's $1,000 Scholarship given to a Whitefish Bay senior in high school.  The application is due April 1, 2011.

The goal of the Scholarship is to reward a high school student who has exhibited exemplary service to their community.    Details can be found here.

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The Whitefish Bay Police Department released their annual crime report for 2010.   You can read it here.

We were heading for a really good year, except for the mini-crime wave at the end.

I like seeing that traffic and municipal citations have dropped from 2,900 to 2,150 in the last 5 years.  Parking citations have dropped from a high in 2006 of 11,700 down to 8,200 last year.    Night parking citations dropped significantly as well, although some of that was due to road construction issues.  

Even with the mini-crime wave, which appears to have stopped, Whitefish Bay remains a very safe community. 

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Tonight (Thursday) is the Whitefish Bay BID's Wine & Chocolate Stroll from 6-8pm.

So if you want some free wine and chocolate tonight .. head to Breadsmith, Elements East, Elements Therapeutic Massage, Gallery 505, Great Frame Up, Hounds Around Town, Minoan Intimate Apparel, New Options Salon & Boutique, Oro di Olivia, Patricia Shoppe,Realty Executives, RedCap Luggage, Schwanke-Kasten, Sendik's, Simon Oliver, Starbucks, Three Wishes, or Winkie's.

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Finally, you may have noticed that the Village Spillage blog has disappeared from the Whitefish BayNOW website. 

Last week, the NOW wrote me an email and "fired" me, since I was also writing the blog for Whitefish Bay's new online newspaper, Patch.

It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Kramer is fired from a job he was doing for free.

Recent News Links: