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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Village Buzz - Budget Debate: 2

Germantown, Police, Political, Quality of Life, Fire Department, Taxes, Village Board, Village Buzz, Wisconsin

The trustees came together last night as the Committee of the Whole to further discuss the budget for 2010.   Department heads testified regarding their areas of responsibility and the potential cuts if a "zero increase" budget were to be approved by the Board.  This was a confusing meeting; it was apparent that not all the trustees have a good grip on the budgeting process and that not all trustees are as concerned with some aspects as those in attendance seemed to be.

My first reaction was to think that Governor Doyle and the Democrat majority in Madison had "sucked all the oxygen out of the room".  The state has placed all government entities beneath them in a precarious position.  State funding to counties and to the communities in those counties has been cut too far and too quickly, and the limits imposed by the state on finding funds is too tight at this point.  The state continues to spend more and more and to push the "hurt" downhill to the lesser levels of government.

There is and will continue to be a decline in the level of services that are provided if Germantown's elected leaders continue down the path of budget reductions.  There were claims made that the discussions were about limiting growth, but when services are lost in the name of limiting growth, it is hard to see that logic.  The Public Works department, for example, is staffed at the same level it was in 1989 albeit with more and better equipment; think of the growth in public infrastructure in that two-decade period of time.

The village has, up to this point, cut the budgets of departments and, when that proved to be insufficient, moved to furloughs/lay-offs.  If there is any fat left on the bones of the village, I'd be hard-pressed to find it.  From now on, cuts for the sake of cutting will be made to absolutely essential services.  The unions are being scapegoated with the suggestion that they voluntarily open their contracts and agree to a zero percent increase.  This after they've given already.  I am not a big union sympathizer, but again, enough is enough.

While it is admirable that our officials are trying to find any remaining dollars that can be removed, it is my opinion that we're in a position of doing serious, and possibly irreparable damage to the village if we do not bite the proverbial bullet and take at least a modest increase.  Modest defined as from $30 to $50 in the coming year on the average home in Germantown

Some trustees seem more concerned with re-election than with good governance.  I understand the pressures they operate under given the big favors done all of us by the rulers in Madison.  I understand that we are but one of three taxing entities that make up the total tax bill.  But, the village trustees were elected to manage the affairs of the village as best is possible, and not to fret about what the school system or MATC might do to us with their tax decisions.

We are, in my opinion, at the point where further cuts will cause our village to cease being the nice community it is, and that will mean erosion of businesses and jobs rather than increases in numbers of both.  It will mean that we are placing ourselves in less safe positions due to fire and police service cuts that will be inevitable.  It will mean the potential for fire and/or police personnel to be placed in more than normal jeopardy as they perform their missions.    It will mean that roads will not be plowed as quickly nor as often as we're accustomed to enjoying.  It will mean that our parks will degrade.  It will mean that we'll lose dedicated village employees who simply cannot hold up under the load any longer.

If that happens, please remember to thank Governor Doyle and the Democrat leadership for their massive grabs of our money for their purposes when you next step into the voting booth.  While I usually find that I can take exception with some of our village leaders, they are now in a bad spot not necessarily of their own making.

But, to continue to cut back on essential services will have been a choice they made, and if snow plowing suffers, that will have been their choice; and if calls to fire and police departments take a bit longer and result in fewer people there to assist, that will have been their call.

This is a time for good, solid governance in spite of the position that might place one or more in come re-election time.  We'll remember them more fondly as we reflect on what they did for the good of the village even at the risk to their re-election.  Quick fixes are no longer what are needed.  Wisdom and reason are what we need today.

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