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.
The City of Brookfield is voting on the proposed 2010 budget tonight. There is a short public hearing segment on the budget at the beginning of that meeting. This is your chance to voice a concern. The Hearing/Council Meeting will begin at 7:45pm, in Common Council Chambers at Brookfield's City Hall. Agenda/Alderman Packet (Thanks Fairly Conservative)
There are certain city services most of us would agree are necessities, regardless of cost. You know, police and fire protection, keeping roads in good condition, maintaining city utilities, etc.
As for the niceties, things like bike paths, sidewalks on one or both sides of the street, boulevard plantings, faux painted retaining walls, etc., one change I would love to see is that a price tag be attached to these unnecessary expenditures. Price tag being defined as the total cost and cost per average household for initial expenditure and yearly maintenance.
It is very easy to say, yes, I like having the boulevards planted with grass, trees and flowers, or faux field stone retaining walls, or paved sidewalks/bike paths. But what are the yearly costs associated with maintaining the plantings? How about the faux painted retaining walls? How much does path snow plowing cost?
I know this is small potatoes, but as we see these types boulevard plantings becoming more commonplace, know that the cost is not just for the initial installation, but in the maintaining. Ongoing nicety maintenance payroll costs are a concern to me.
In times of plenty, maybe we can afford these niceties. But in a troubled economy, where people are unemployed or underemployed, any increase in their property tax bill is a hardship. Commercial property owners also have a tough time paying their taxes in bad times. When the mall owner has vacancies, they can become delinquent taxpayers.
Creating labor intensive niceties is creating a larger dragon as they say, and that dragon must be fed in the lean times too.
We can play all sorts of bookkeeping magic to make the 2010 budget (bottom pp4) look like it is less than last year's, but the bottom line for me is, are my property taxes going up this year as compared to last year's bill?
2010 Proposed Budget
Summary of City fund budgets
Tax Levies and Rates
General operating fund budget summary
Finance Committee Amendments
Mayor's budget calls for 2.4% rise in levy