Thursday, April 29, 2010

I want my part of the surplus back

It's amazing how politics suddenly make government a bit more efficient. Yesterday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced the city will finish 2009 with a $20 million dollar surplus. Later it would be upgraded to a $23 million dollar surplus. Must be nice to find an extra $3 million later in the day. Good thing the comptroller checked the couch cushions.

This comes after County Supervisor Scott Walker announced last month that County of Milwaukee will end up $8.9 million ahead for 2009. So the Milwaukee area went from being in a fiscal crisis to being up over $30 million. Taxpayers, who have seen the property taxes rise each year, won't see any of this. Politicians will tout that part of the money is used for tax relief but that is crap when I see my tax bill rise each year.

There are two things that bother me with this announcement. The first one:
Murphy said it was the 18th straight year that the city ran a budget
surplus. That was confirmed by figures from the budget office, which showed
surpluses ranging from $3 million in 1999 to $38.8 million in 1992, with an
average surplus of $16.1 million from 1992 through 2008. Barrett was elected in

So if the City of Milwaukee has been running a surplus for the past 18 years, why are our taxes going up still? Sure they are still spending away and having to make up for the city workers pensions but they seem to forget one thing. It is the taxpayer's money they keep taking. How about giving some of that back or not raising our taxes? Nope. They have a bullshit reason for that as well:
Nicolini and Murphy said it was incorrect to suggest that the surplus meant the
city should have levied less in taxes or cut spending less. They said prudent
budgeting requires keeping some cash in reserve, and the Government Finance
Officers Association says the reserve should be 5% of general-fund spending,
which is consistent with the amount now in the tax stabilization fund.

Like the politicians in the City of Milwaukee are prudent.

The second thing that will elude the politicians is how this surplus came about.
Barrett and budget director Mark Nicolini said those moves worked,
crediting the surplus to the decisions to impose employee furloughs, hold
positions vacant, raise the snow-and-ice fee and limit overtime, as well as to
lower energy prices. The mayor praised the Common Council and city employee
unions for cooperating in those moves.

So the city was able to operate with less. It has shown that we did not need the employees they thought we did nor was all the overtime required as well. This should lead to budgets using those numbers. Just like businesses have operated over the past 2 years, the city should follow suit and keep operation the way they are and not going back to the policies that put us in the hole. Or simply put, stop letting the employee unions rape the taxpayers of Milwaukee.

It is interesting to see a side story listed on the page as well. Crime has dropped in the city. So less overtime for the police force made a difference. I doubt that will persist. The less overtime part that is.

We'll see more stories like this over the summer as Walker and Barrett battle to become the next governor of Wisconsin. Of course Walker actually works to keep spending down while Barrett raised taxes. Simple fact you cannot dispute. I hope the rest of the state realizes that.

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