Muskego Common Council passes 2014 budget, levy on close vote
Some aldermen wanted more cuts
Muskego — By a narrow, 4-3, vote, the Muskego Common Council approved a budget and property tax levy for 2014 last week.
At least two of those "no" votes came because aldermen said more cuts could be made that might erase the small levy increase for 2014. The third alderman added that, in his view, the city isn't saving for future large purchases.
But the majority of aldermen expressed the feeling that the budget is fine with the nearly $90,000 or 0.7 percent levy increase over this year.
"I thought we had this budget nailed down pretty well," Alderwoman Eileen Madden said.
The general fund operating budget plus debt service the Common Council approved is $17.4 million, which is 1.3 percent higher than was budgeted for this year and 2.5 percent higher than the amount the city actually expects to spend by the end of the year.
The 2014 levy of nearly $12.1 million is $89,791 more than the 2013 levy.
Voting for the budget and levy were aldermen Bob Hammel, Rob Glazier, Kevin Kubacki and Madden. Voting against were aldermen Dan Soltysiak, Neil Borgman and Robert Wolfe.
Soltsiak wanted zero increase
Soltysiak said the levy increase could be zero without affecting the level of city services. He presented a plan to get to a zero-increase tax levy by eliminating increases in various areas. The only actual cut he proposed was of $14,500 for reimbursing aldermen for expenses. Soltysiak makes that suggestion every year.
"If I'm going to ask people to do more with less, I'm going to lead by example," he said after the meeting.
His proposal was defeated, however, 5 to 2, with Borgman joining him in casting the only votes for it.
The two largest chunks of Soltysiak's proposal were eliminating increases to the Muskego Library budget and saving in technology by replacing just computers that need replacement, not computers plus the monitors. Together, those two areas accounted for $63,000 of the $91,000 in cuts Soltysiak was shooting for.
Library Director Pete Loeffel defended the library's $33,000 higher budget for materials in 2014 by saying that the library budget has been sub-par for years. So, for next year, he has asked for the mid-point in materials spending for a library of Muskego's size.
Soltysiak said the library has been doing fine with the funding it has been getting and people outside the community even use it.
As to replacing just computers and not both computers and monitors, Technology Director John Wisniewski said there has been a "high level of failure" of monitors. Also, the city's replacement cycle calls for both monitors and computers to be replaced at the same time, he said.
Soltysiak said monitors have a longer lifespan than computers. But Wisniewski said the city might end up with a jumble of equipment by replacing monitors at different times. Complicating the buying process is that the city goes with the state of Wisconsin in bundled purchases to get better deals, he said.
The city will replace 58 computers — 18 for the city and 40 at the library. Buying only the computers would save $25,000, Soltysiak said.
More should be saved
The large increase in the technology budget to pay for those computers next year is a good example of the city not saving as much as it should for big purchases like that, Borgman said.
"Why weren't we saving for it?" he asked. "We're putting ourselves behind the eight-ball all the time."
The problem is not with the budget process but with the council, Glazier said.
"The problem is the council has no discipline," he said. It has had plans before but hasn't stuck with them, he said.
After the meeting, Soltysiak said the back-and-forth debate of his proposal was a good thing, even though it failed in the end.
"We should not agree on every single issue," he said. "We have healthy and spirited debate on issues and as a taxpayer I want to see that."
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- News & Notes: Dec. 9
- Muskego gets AVID-ly enthusiastic about new academic program
- News & Notes: Dec. 2
- Announcements kick off elections in Muskego
- Third Muskego lake park idea goes under
- Muskego School Board president won't seek re-election
- Prime land can only sit and wait in Muskego
- News & Notes: Nov. 28
- Muskego mayor announces intention to run for second term
- News & Notes: Nov. 18