Thursday, November 20, 2014

City Budgets - a Convoluted Mess

I was looking at the history of the Boymatic (don't ask) and found my name is linked to it's history. 

In 1888 Jules Melotte, son of company founder, invents the Melotte Cream Separator, securing the company's future in the dairy industry.

In 1927 George H. Gascoigne founds Gascoigne in Reading, England, rapidly building a reputation for down-to-earth, quality milking equipment.

In 1974 Gascoigne and Melotte merge to form Gascoigne-Melotte, a leader in milking machine design and development.

I'm waiting for my checks to start rolling in.  



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I'm pretty sure this is a Two Footed Winger Gray Wolf in my backyard. 



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*** NEW CITY OF COLUMBUS - 2015 WINTER PARKING RULES & REGULATIONS
- Parking is permitted on all city streets (unless marked or signed otherwise) at any time.
- Parking is NOT permitted on any city street once 2" of snow has fallen and through 12 hours after the end of the snowfall.
- Vehicles left on the street during this time will be ticket and/or towed.

Tow truck companies are lining up to open new business - it's all about jobs right?
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So the budget was passed last night but no one really knows WHAT passed . . well we do but the public doesn't.  I thought there would be a presentation or something but the whole town is sick so maybe that was a drawback.

As we all know there were massive cuts mostly because of the Gateway project but that was something we have no control of.  I think the biggest bone of contention is that we get $269,626 from the DOT for roads but that does not actually get spent on roads.  Just puttin it out there. Total revenue dropped $225,029 but it's hard to tell from year to year because some funds were moved to different parts of the budget.  No real big item is to blame . . . maybe the lack of dog licenses is what brought us down.  

The good news is that y'all will have a pretty good size reduction in your property taxes because Walker is buying some votes in a tricky way. Give money to the people instead of the cities - cities can't vote but people can.  If we don't give money to the people the city's get penalized.

The average home in Columbus is about $150,000 and that will be ABOUT $258 in property tax reduction.

A lot of people seem to think all the cuts were for roads.  NOPE - almost the same on roads and if you want better roads we will have to use our credit card.  You know those big checks you see people getting in the paper?  You should see the BIG credit card Patrick has to carry around.  Windy days are a bitch.

They did toss us a small bone to keep us a happy cheery lot with a little more in road maintenance but will it make a huge difference.  In the long run yes if we can keep it at this level.

So here are the cuts in no particular order.  Don't shoot the messenger.

Admin-Contingency fund - ($15,000) - this is our emergency fund. The Mayor has proclaimed 2015 as a No Emergency Year (NEY)

Admin-Codification - ($8,600).  I don't even know what that is.

Admin - Memberships ($820). No more late night flights to spas of Prague I guess.

Admin - Election ($2,000) - We are doing away with elections and just appointing people now!
KIDDING!!!   less elections

Various boring Admin stuff ($3,500)
Admin Payment to Enerpac ($19,500) - not touching the subject shhhhh (pretend it's not even there)
Emergency Management Repair & Maintenance ($1000)
EMS ($500)
Parks Building Repair/Tree Trimming  ($1500)
Athletic Fields Maintenance ($250)

Public Works ($41,700)  the big thing here is the Urban Forestry Grant we are losing for a GIS system that we voted on. it would have been sweet!!!

Police Department - Body cameras ($4500) - Well, we never really approved of these so do they count? . . . I guess we are saving money.

Oh - I see I'm(*) on the Police Department page,  Have to use both hands.

* why is "I'm" capitalized, why not "i'm". What is the reasoning.

We are losing one FTE officer
Other Police Department cuts ($75,200).  A moment please.

The Columbus Police Department in 2014 was operating with 2.2 officers per 1000 residents. According to the Waunakee budget here are some other towns surrounding Madison

Monona 2.5
Deforest 1.9
Fitchburg 1.8
McFarland 1.8
Middleton 2.0
Oregon 1.8
Stoughton 1.5
Sun Prairie 1.8
Verona 1.8
Waunakee 1.5
Oconomoc 1.9
Baraboo 1.9
Mount Horeb 1.8
Columbus was 2.2, now 2.0

In 2013 Aaron Adams said we were operating with 1.92 officers per 1000 and I did not see chaos in the street.  I believe our Chief is good enough keep the force running efficiently at 2.0.

and repeat after me - there have been no actual talks about contracting out our police department. The ONLY reason this whole subject came up was because when looking at the budget - WE COULDN'T AFFORD A POLICE DEPARTMENT so a question was asked, that's all.  Hopefully that has calmed down a little now.

You really did not have to repeat that whole thing - sorry!

Senior Center ($2000)
Acquatic Center ($700)
Hillside Cemetery ($5000)

and I don't see the Library on my the list at all and that is why I was surprised they were cut ($3000).

The Columbus Library is getting some pretty big street cred around America. We ARE one of the top 10 Libraries to get a special award this past year.

Check out this on the American Library Assc website.

Root for Columbus: It Took a Village to Make Our Tree

SO - that nightmarish budget season is over and as one long term resident told me "in 40 years, I have never ever seen a more fluid budget process".   ME NEITHER - What a convoluted mess.  I don't understand how Columbus can come through The Great Recession in really good shape but BAM - now we are forced to make hundreds of thousands in cuts?

Every 3 or 4 days we were given new information that changed everything and money is being moved around here and there to fill holes and none of it seeming to go towards roads.  By the time roads came up - SORRY, NOTHING LEFT, GOTTA PAY BILLS!!

It's frankly embarrassing. All I know is that we learned a lot this time around.  Last year the two new Council members were outcasts and had no real say in how things were spent as the old school city council did their own thing just nodding and agreeing.

You really don't know what a city budget is like until you actually dive into one.

nuff said.