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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Mayor Speaker, wasn't that our money?

City of Brookfield, Mayor Speaker, TAXES

Did you read that Mayor Speaker wrote a check to fulfill his 2006 campaign promise regarding the return of his pay raise to the city? "'I kept my word,' he said." Unfortunately, he gave it to the wrong city!

The Journal/Sentinel reported that "Mayor Jeff Speaker returned his 2007 salary increase - and a little more - to city coffers Monday, making good on a re-election campaign promise."

But this statement is a bit misleading, because his returned pay raise did not go back into the city's "coffers" as he promised. Speaker instead designated that his pay raise go to the non-profit Sister Cities fund. (Want to see what Sister Cities does? Look at their Sept. 2007 meeting minutes.)

What is wrong with that?

His raise was not returned to the taxpayers of Brookfield as he promised. He in effect made a donation, with our taxpayer money, to a non profit cause of his choosing. (I understood the city was not to directly fund the Sister Cities project from our taxes.) 

Now his $1,750 check is hardly a make or break issue for our city, but I think it does reveal an attitude that taxpayer relief doesn't matter. I look at budgets as every little bit of savings helps. Besides, after 4 years the total starts to resemble real money. "...Speaker pledged if he won re-election to a second term he would not accept the pay raises and would return them to the city. That would mean returning a total of $14,223 through 2010."

Interestingly enough, the mayor returned more money than necessary. His check was for $1,750, but it only needed to be $1,401. I think if you make a promise that you are returning your raise to the city, it should go back into the city's general fund. So maybe Mayor Speaker could request that his $1,401 be given to our city and the remaining $349 go to his beloved Sister City project if he favors that cause so much? That would be a win/win arrangement.

By the way, the return of the mayor's pay raise was an issue during both campaigns. These quotes were taken from the transcript of the 2006 JSOnline forum:

Kilkenny: In your 2002 campaign literature you said, "The New Mayor Will Get A 28% Raise." On the reverse page, you say, "I will not accept the pay raise and will ask the aldermen to do the same." How did you follow through on this promise to reject the mayoral pay raise?

Speaker: When questioned by a reporter on that exact campaign literature, I stated that I would not take the raise for that year and pay back the City the amount for that year period. And I did donate it back to the City. As for what the aldermen did, I can only speak for myself.

In Speaker's first term, he returned his extra pay for his first year - $2,409. He kept the increases the next three years.

I recently heard about an elected official (out east, I think) who also returned his pay raises while in office to fulfill his campaign promises. But now that he was leaving office, he was requesting the raises back! Hopefully, that will not happen in Brookfield, and our taxpayer money being given to the wrong city will be resolved soon.

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P.S. Don't forget the Public Information Meeting for the proposed Fountain Brook Crossing at Brookfield's City Hall, Wednesday, January 9th, 6:30 - 7:30 pm. This new development is proposed for Moorland Road and Greenfield Avenue. Big surprise here: The 97 foot tall development requires rezoning.

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