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North Shore officials react to Walker's budget proposal

March 1, 2011

The devil will be in the details.

In the coming days Glendale's City Administrator Richard Maslowski said he expects the League of Wisconsin Municipalities will help sort out the implications of Gov. Scott Walker's proposed biennial budget.

Poring over the initial information shortly after the budget presentation in Madison, Maslowski said a 10 percent reduction in transportation aid, about $143,000 for the city, would be a big loss. The budget also proposes eliminating recycling aid, another $92,000 to $100,000 cut for the city.

"The program costs us about $250,000," he said.

The city would be held to a zero increase levy limit except for the net value of new construction.

"We have fixed costs, electricity, asphalt, street salt, gasoline, natural gas for heat, that we have no control over," he said. The city also has no control over the cost of health care premiums for 2012.

Glendale has 72 employees, 50 of them police officers.

"The police don't have a contract," he said. Police and firefighters would be exempt from contributions for health care costs and retirement under the budget repair bill, which has not been passed by the state Senate but has been adopted by the Assembly.

In Glendale, police officers currently pay 9 percent of their health care costs but no retirement costs.

The contract for public works employees expires at year's end. Although the budget repair bill would mandate health care and retirement contributions from public works employees, there are only 10 of them on the city payroll.

The city has consolidated its fire services with six other Milwaukee County North Shore communities, shares a water utility with Whitefish Bay and Fox Point, a library with River Hills, Fox Point and Bayside, a health department with Brown Deer, River Hills, Fox Point and Bayside and a dispatch center with Whitefish Bay and Shorewood.

Currently the seven communities are considering a consolidation of dispatch services.

"This might expedite the conversation about dispatch," he said, adding that other consolidations are being considered.

Maslowski warned the Common Council at its Monday meeting that once the details of the biennial budget are known, the city might need to amend its 2011 budget to cover the loss of state aid and other adjustments that may be necessary once he and city staff fully understand its implications.

Emily Koczela, director of finance at Brown Deer schools, said the district has been preparing for reductions. The budget proposes limiting the per pupil revenue limits by 5.5 percent in fiscal years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.

"If everyone takes part of the load, including me, we will come out with a fabulous school system left," she said. "The governor gave us a lot of tools to make a smarter budget. None of them have passed yet. If we don't get them, I will have to cut $1 million out (of the district's budget) and that will be a problem."

The per pupil revenue limit for the district is $12,297 for the 2010-2011 school year. Doing a quick calculation, Koczela said the district would face a $675 per student cut. If the budget repair bill passes with its requirement that public unions begin contributing 12.5 percent to health care costs and 5.8 percent to retirement costs, Koczela believes district finances will be fine.

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