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Governor's 'tools' don't go far enough for Glendale

City faces potential increases in fees, reduction in services

July 12, 2011

Glendale - The Common Council has homework to do in preparation for its meeting July 25.

Department heads have prepared lists of options designed to help meet a projected $270,000 deficit for the 2012 budget. The council needs to decide on its course of action, cuts in services, increases in fees, everything is on the table.

"The governor's tools, at least for Glendale, are rather limited," City Administrator Richard Maslowski told the council Monday night. "Had they included the police in the tools, I wouldn't even be here talking to you."

Police pensions costly

While the state budget requires health care premium and retirement contributions from public employees, both police and firefighters are exempt from the mandate. The Joint Finance Committee expanded the mandate, which originally included only police and fire union employees, to the management and supervisory personnel.

Maslowski said the city pays 21.3 percent of salary toward police retirements. The Wisconsin Retirement System requires higher contributions for public safety employees than the 11 percent required for other government employees. Maslowski said after the meeting that the city will pay $737,195 toward police retirements in 2012.

If police paid 5.8 percent toward retirement, rather than the city funding the total amount, Maslowski said the city would not have the challenge it now faces in developing a budget.

Officers pay about 8 percent of the cost of the family health insurance plan under their contract which expired in 2010.

The council will consider a variety of options, from charging a fee for recycling and yard waste collection, the purchase of fuel from a local gas station, a reduction in the use of road salt, imposing special assessments for capital projects, reducing the hours the front desk at the Police Station is open, shifting specialty officers from programs such as D.A.R.E. to patrol, the consolidation of police and municipal court services, increases in permit fees, the implementation of a business occupancy permit program, to the consolidation of some positions within city government.

The merger of the North Shore and Shorewood/Whitefish Bay health departments and the dispatch centers will help this year, Maslowski said, but they are not enough.

NSFD costs worrisome

Maslowski said a particular concern for the 2013 budget will be North Shore Fire Department costs. A five-year freeze on each community's share ends with the 2012 budget.

"I am not sure we will be able to afford to pay in 2013," he said. "Our biggest cost is public safety - police, fire, and code enforcement, as it should be, but we are open for your direction."

Mayor Jerry Tepper assigned the homework, asking aldermen to review the written memos with an eye toward determining what can work. Tepper said the council also wants input from the community on the budget, some help in making what appear to be difficult choices. That meeting could come as early as August, he said.

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