Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Fourth Way

The major concerns of the aldermen regarding the recycling—as exhibited in their discussion of the subject—are two in number:

1. Will the recycling fee actually terminate at the end of 10 years as it is supposed to?
2. The landfill is filling up and may become full in 4 or 5 years.

There was a third—minor— consideration,

3. Should we be foisting these bins on our constituency despite the fact that so many of them oppose the bin concept?


Let’s address the fee itself first. It won’t disappear…ever. Not without an entirely new council and mayor that take a 180 degree turn on their attitude towards government and the constituents it allegedly serves.

First of all the fee shouldn’t be there at all, even now. Recycling is part of waste management and should be part of the DPW budget.

Recycling is supposed to save money for the City. Why have a fee to save money? It doesn’t make sense. If the recycle bins will accomplish what they are touted to accomplish, it should be financially viable to pay for it out of the current DPW budget.

That recycling bins are being purchased with a fee instead indicates no willingness to budget, no confidence that the bins will work as promised. It is a lazy way to save money. It is an easy way to get more money from taxpayers without “raising taxes.”

There is no discipline in the council.

The fee is here to stay. We will be lucky if in 10 years it is still only $10.00.


There is good news and bad news regarding the land fill.

The scare is the landfill will have reached its limit in another 4 or 5 years. I mentioned this to a Mt. Pleasant resident and he said the same thing was being said 15 years ago. The land fill is always about to run out of room.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that recycling will have little effect on the life of the land fill.
We dump over 33,000 tons of solid waste into the land fill each year.

Last year we recycled about 705 tons of goods.

Expectation are the bins will increase recycling from 25% to 143% (the high figure being the Madison experience).

Lets say we triple recycling as a result of the bins—increase recycling by 200%.

Removing 1410 tons of solid waste from our current totals would decrease our solid waste total by 4.26% increasing the life of the land fill 9 to 12 weeks.

Do the math.


Elected government officials will forever depend on their bureaucracies to defend their actions when such actions are contrary to common sense and what their constituencies want them to do.

The bins are no exception. Statistics, those most ephemeral of lies, convinced our aldermen that we—the common folk out here—don’t know what is best for ourselves. But the bureaucrats do…and, using statistics, can prove it.

So the answer is: To Bin.


To me, recycling seems pretty cool…particularly since getting rid of recyclables is currently almost free compared to the $80 per ton to dump solid waste.

Bins and fees as means to take advantage of that cost saving is just a little loopy.

We had a saying back when I was in the in the military: “There is the right way, the wrong way, and the Army’s way!”

We have just found a Fourth Way: the City Council's way.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dishonesty in Budgeting

Three aldermen voted “no” on the city budget motion this evening: Sandy Weidner, Jeff Coe and Mike Shields. All I can say is, “Good for them.”

I don’t think any of them voted that way for the same reason I objected to the budget: dishonesty. But they didn’t like the budget for philosophical reasons and at least had the gumption to vote that way also.

Once again we will find a new fee on our tax statements while Mayor John Dickert and the aldermen tout a “no tax increase” budget.

It isn’t a “no tax increase” if you treat the budget honestly:
1. The new fee, the recycling fee, is a tax. It can legally be called a fee because the tax is going into a separate fund controlled by the Department of Public Works. It doesn’t go into the general fund first. But other than that little short cut, it is the same as a tax.
2. Recycling is a function of garbage disposal. As such it is a function of DPW and all expenses thereof should be part of the DPW budget and the tax levy.

That is my paramount objection to this budget and it should not be passed in this misleading and dishonest form.

It should be not passed with the misleading and dishonest Sewer Lateral fee attached to it. Sewer laterals have been the jurisdiction of DPW for a long time…probably since they were installed.

Why now a fee to deal with them?

That fee should also be repealed and sewer lateral maintenance put back into the general fund.

Until both those fees are eliminated, we do not have an honest budget and it should not be passed.

There are other reasons to not pass this budget, but this is one of the fundamental reasons: dishonesty in budgeting.

No Courage Here

Except for a well paid bureaucracy and a few elected officials who revel in wielding power over others, this budget will not increase happiness in the city of Racine.

The city council continues to assess fees in a cowardly attempt to hide tax increases. Fees such as the sewer lateral fees, recycling fees and fire department inspection fees, are fees that cover activities that are part and parcel to conventional government operations. Such fees are not voluntarily paid and are essentially a tax.

They are fees that are meant to hide aldermanic inability to make politically difficult choices as to what is and what is not an essential government expenditure.

More importantly, this budget reflects aldermen’s lack of courage in dealing with crafty bureaucrats and unions that demand luxurious health care plans, generous pension plans, and less than demanding work schedules for themselves and their underlings.

And if a bureaucrat can show he will cover the costs of his salary and benefits with fees and/or fines, that gets an almost automatic pass from the council.

And how much of the $1.5 million in sewer lateral “fees” actually went to homeowners. Not a single alderman asked that question during the budget process. As I recall, about a half dozen such requests would come up in a year. That is about $75,000 of the $1.5 million assessed fees, or as little as 5%, that actually goes to homeowners. The rest went to the Department of Public Works for salaries, benefits and other expenditures that should rightfully have been included in its budget and on the tax roles, subject to all the rules and regulations of levy limits.

But the council chose to take the role of a sort of tax dodger and assess constituents with fees instead. (And they complain about constituents that don’t obey the rules.)

With the alternate side parking they have intensified the “regulation and punishment” system of control over people, a proven failure in government relations with the public.

With recycling they are considering more regulations and fines. The garbage police seem to be on the horizon of this city’s future.

Never have I heard a single alderman consider the more benign system of “communication and reason,” the system used in private sector companies, by the way, with its customers, in a medium called “advertising.”

The Mayor is actually using communication and reason in his radio message regarding drug abuse. And I can assure you that he is accomplishing much more in that approach to abating drug abuse than all 200 Racine police officers with their Armadillo, Swat Teams, guns and jails ever will.

Communication is the universal solvent; it invites cooperation. The use of punishment as a means of attaining compliance does little more than build up resentment.

This budget leaves much room for improvement. The only defense of this budget lies in comparison with the budgets of other communities — whose budgets — universally — consist of similar deficiencies and abuses.

What's on Third?

I made a statement to the city council that was a bit of an exaggeration that I must correct. I stated that businessmen “want to know what is the expense of doing business in that community and that is solely determined by taxes and regulations.”

That simply is not true. There are other factors. Taxes and regulations are the main determining factor in the field of moving businesses. And those communities and states that have the highest taxes and most restrictive regulation will draw the fewest businesses and jobs. Those communities and states with the lowest taxes and lenient regulations will draw the most businesses and jobs.

But there are other factors. But what are they? What’s third?

Size of the community is a factor. More people equals more customers and a better shot at qualified workers.

Natural resources will be a factor. It might be hard to open up a bait shop in the desert. Furriers will sell more coats in the Snow Belt than in the Sun Belt.

Distance from the I-System makes a difference as more good are shipped by truck.

The aldermen are right. There are other factors. I stand corrected. But how do these thing compare to taxes and regulations? On all businesses across the board?

As a major force affecting the ebb and flow of businesses in and out of a community or State, nothing comes close to affecting it as much as do taxes and regulations.

People follow jobs. The City of Racine has the advantage over surrounding communities with its low rents and housing costs. So there will be people who stay in Racine while working outside of the City. That means the city of Racine can lose more jobs than the surrounding communities and not have as many people move.

So when the City is the only community in the County of Racine to actually lose population, it must be losing one heluva lot of jobs.

After talking to many of the aldermen about this subject of taxes and regulations versus jobs versus population shifts, I get the impression that none of them understand this concept. Let’s put it like this: I haven’t talked to one yet that does.

I think I know why: If tax/regulation/job postulate is true, that makes them largely responsible for controlling the ebb and flow of jobs in and out of the City.

And considering it has mostly been and ebb in and a flow out, well, I guess if I was an alderman I wouldn’t want to agree with that postulate either.

Slick Rick

As 2007 wended its way through history, Department of Public Works Head, Richard Jones faced a serious problem with a city full of deteriorating sewer lines and a packed DPW budget with nowhere to get the money to cover the ever increasing costs to repair them.

He faced a City Council that can’t prioritize spending to save their collective souls or the City of Racine.

What was he to do?

But there was another problem that caught his eye that was causing pain and agony out in the private sector. And got his thinking wheels going: Homeowners were getting hit $12,000 a pop to fix their collapsing sewer laterals (the section of the lateral from the house to the main line that runs down the middle of the street).

Rick thought about his problem. And he thought about their problem. He put them together and, wha-la, came up with a solution: A Fee.

Sell it as a Homeowner’s “Insurance” Fee (the BAIT) for homeowner’s sewer lines, then use it to get the money he needs for his sewer lines (the SWITCH).

(Admit it: Slick Rick is Brilliant. That’s why he plays the City Council like a piano.)

The aldermen took it, hook, line and sinker. They didn’t have to raise taxes. It got those wailing homeowner off their backs crying about the 12G hit. And the sewer laterals got fixed.

The aldermen even got the promise that the fee would not be raised.

It passed. Slick as a Rick.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bait and Switch

As I mentioned Tuesday at the (Nov. 3) Council meeting, assessed fees (as opposed to voluntarily paid fees) are in reality just tax increases used to either

1. Bypass a property tax levy limit, and/or
2. Hide an actual property tax increase.

The sewer lateral fee takes it a step further using the “bait and switch” technique to sell the public on the idea.

The bait (the homeowner) is used as described in the handout I gave to the aldermen. (See the 2d page, 3d paragraph for the pertinent reference.) That is what was sold to the public. This fee would be a sort of a collective "insurance policy" for homeowners. That is why only homeowners were assessed during the first year of its existence. Each homeowner would chip in $50.00 to a fund that would be used to cover the homeowners that got hit with the sewer lateral problem.

Rick Jones still used the homeowners as “bait” at his portion of the budget hearing last week. He touted how happy the homeowners were that were protected from the $12,000 hit by this fund. Then, although only a small portion actually goes to the bait, he proposed raising the fee from $50 to $52.

I thought it was a good idea when Aron Wisneski told me about it two years ago. When I talked to Rick Jones about it that evening, he gave me the added information that an engineer that had been costing the city something like $45K a year would be given a $35K (approximate) salary increase to monitor the lateral and that the entire salary would be put into the “insurance fund.” That was all he told me.

I objected to that right away to that salary shift, as money that had been spent from the general fund was now being put into the “insurance fund.”

Somehow we came up with a figure that the entire fund would come to about $1M as I recall.

I remember walking down the stairs with him after the meeting asking more about it stating that if there were not a lot of requests from homeowners for sewer lateral repairs, then the tax could drop to the level that we only needed to replenish the fund back to the million, right?

He said that would probably not happen. The entire fund would probably be spent.

I questioned whether there would always be that many homeowner sewer laterals go every year.

He repeated without further explanation that the fund would probably be all spent.

It made no sense to me. Why would that be? The truth was soon to follow.

Later I found out the that the wye fitting repairs that I had often seen come through the finance committee and the Council minutes were also thrown into this fund.

Then there were more sewer repairs put into the fund, and now sewer inspections.

The trick here is that the basis of the establishment of this fund was to rescue homeowners that were getting sacked for $12,000 in repairs when a sewer lateral failed. That is the bait: the homeowner. That was the way the bill was introduced—an insurance program for the homeowner. Witout the bait, the aldermen would have been hard pressed to add a fee to perform services that had always come out of the general fund.

And that was the switch. The fund was really a way to funnel more money into DPW for sewer repairs.

If the aldermen were entirely honest with the people of this community they would increase taxes, if necessary, to cover the costs of the repairs that had and should come out of the general fund.

What I want to know, and I am really surprised that no alderman has requested it, and that is a complete accounting of every penny that comes out of that fund.

—How much of it actually goes to the “bait,” the homeowners.
—How much goes to that bureaucracy.
—How much goes to which kind of sewer repair.

I think taxpayers should accept the part that goes to homeowners as a one-of-a-kind fee, an “insurance fee.” I, personally, like that idea.

But the rest of the expenditures is nothing more than the plain old ordinary fee that gets used to

1. Circumvent a levy limit, and/or
2. Hide a tax increase.

Honest and Effective Budgeting

The balance of my comments at the (Nov. 5) public portion of the budget hearing were of a general nature.

The real proof of the efficacy of this budget is how does it affect the citizens of this community.

Since 1970, with every census, we find more people leaving the city.

In 1970 we were the third largest community in the state with about 95,000 people. Only Milwaukee and Madison could claim larger populations and economies. Behind us were Green Bay and Kenosha with about 79,000.

Now we have switched places the the latter two. Green Bay and Kenosha both are up to around 95,000 and we have lost 16,000 residents and are down to about 79,000, now the 5th largest community in the state.

We are the only community in Racine County that is declining in population. So I don‘t think we can blame international trade and China.

Other communities in the county have grown since 1970 and so can we.

It is taxes and regulations that businesses survey before they set up shop in a community. Potential entrepreneurs don’t drive through the alleys looking for cleanliness, check out the paint conditions on the houses, or even research the schools (otherwise no one would set up shop in Chicago). They want to know what is the expense of doing business in that community and that is determined by taxes and regulations.

And people follow jobs.

Our miserable business environment (and we had a little demonstration of that a couple of nights ago when three aldermen attempted to stop another business from starting up in Racine) has kept business at bay and people leaving the City for lack of jobs.

It is time this council

1. Get straight and honest with its constituency regarding taxes.
2. Tax and regulate so that Racine can grow economically.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tilting at Windmills

Julius Servantez & Family want to open an automobile sales and repair establishment at 1407 South Memorial Drive. For those of you who may not recognize this forgotten area of Racine, 1407 SMD is the old Racine Library. Several businesses have tried to succeed in the pursuit of happiness at this location, but have failed. The building sits vacant for a year.

Servantez came to the Council meeting November 3d well equipped with several impressive family members, particularly his daughter Jessica, with a degree in business and a well prepared statement on economic consequences.

They came as a family to bring a family business to Racine—in a district that cries for someone to succeed.

Undaunted by the show of aptitude, Alderman Greg Helding came to the forefront brandishing his usual halberd of obstruction. The Bulldozer went to work on the prevention of this family business. Here were his three objections:

1. There is only one bay in the old Library Building. Greg feels there should be more.
2. The driveway opens directly onto Memorial Drive. (I guess this adds to the problem caused by all the other driveways along all the streets in the City that open directly onto the street.)
3. This is an historic building (though not on the National Registry of Historic Buildings) and it used to be a library and this is a real come-down to become a “used car lot.”

Aaron Wisneski came up with some support for The Bulldozer’s obstructionism with this jewel:

4 Although an auto repair shop is not forbidden by the district rules, it is not recommended.

I guess if these guys couldn’t come up with a real reason to prevent a business from starting up, they felt they should at least give it a try with some ridiculous reasons.

Helding is the chairman of the City Plan Commission. He takes that job seriously. So if you don’t have perfect, guaranteed plan to succeed, if everybody isn’t going to just love you, be prepared to face The Bulldozer. He probably won’t want you to even try.

Wisneski, sitting along side of Helding, gets some of the obstructionism rubbed off on to him. He generally votes with Helding on the issues.

Is it any mystery why businesses have a hard time coming to Racine?

But this time cooler heads prevailed.

A strong voice from the First District, Alderman Jeff Coe, pointed out that when it was a library, they had a problem then backing out onto Memorial Drive. But they made it and Servantez can too. And besides, the Uptown District needs a business in there.

Coe also stated there are other similar businesses with one bay. If Servantez thinks he can succeed, he must be given the chance to do it.

Jim Kaplan felt the building had been vacant too long. And as most of the vehicles Servantez will be dealing with are waranteed, they will be repaired at dealerships.

QA Shakoor spoke strongly for the Servantez business, emphasizing the family nature of the business.

Common Sense prevailed on this one; while Helding and Wisneski were left tilting at their windmills.

And the City of Racine took one small step for a better future.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Cutting Edge of Fee Oppression

A fee in its purest sense is a payment in exchange for a service. And, as opposed to a tax, it is a voluntary involvement. Some good examples here in the city is the fee charged to play on a softball team in the city leagues, or to close off a street for a block party.

I have no objection to such fees. It follows the rule: If you want to play, you’ve got to pay. The choice is yours.

Government units have expanded the definition of “fee” to include so-called “dedicated funds.” Examples of that here in the city are the fire department fees and water run off fees. Such a “fee” is not voluntary. It is assed like—and essentially is—a tax.

This involuntarily assessed government fee is use for two purposes: to hide a tax increase and/or to circumvent a tax levy limit.

This involuntary fee is not a direct exchange for a service rendered. It pretends to be, but is not. For instance, it does not cost the fire department 150.00 to inspect smoke detectors of a store or apartment building. It doesn’t cost the fire department anything extra except for a little gas money to run the fire engine around town. We are already paying for the vehicle and personnel in our property taxes. These fire department fees were used to increase the fire department budget without using property taxes…for the reasons stated above.

Then we have the UNIT “fees.” Our City Council has developed a “fee” which by anyone’s comprehension, is not really a fee at all, but a fine. It represents the cutting edge of fee oppression.

The reasons for assessment in this manner is to bypass the burden of allowing constituents their right to due process and appeal.

My alderman, Jim Kaplan, has suggest to me that the way to eliminate UNIT is for everyone to just obey the “law of the land” (as he put it) and do what UNIT wants. I use Jim as an example, but I have total certainty that the rest of the City Council is in total lockstep agreement with that concept.

There is a new fine procedure of which most Council members must surely be aware: the traffic signal cameras, used in many cities around the United States and the Western World, wherein a motorist who runs a stop light, is fined by the camera and its associated computers…through the mail.

Great fund raisers are these cameras. And despite proponents of the cameras using the same argument Jim uses—just obey the law and we will get rid of them—California courts, and a few other cities, are ruling the use of these cameras illegal…for lack of due process. Not one of these judges is saying it is OK to run a red light. What is senior in importance to monitoring this reckless practice of motorists, the courts are saying, is constitutional rights to due process.

No one I know of is recommending getting rid of UNIT, as Jim suggests. I am only saying put UNIT back on the constitutional basis on which UNIT operated before they were given this fee power.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just Wait!

Alderman David Mack visited my blog here recently. He did not leave a comment, but did say something to me at a break in the proceedings at this evening’s (October 28)—what I am going to call—"budget study session." His statement (referring to my blog, A Soul Searhing Event) was that it is not yet the time for aldermen to vote on or make changes in the budget. Just wait! That will happen when they go into discussion later on.

That may well be the case, David, but I didn’t hear any expression of any kind at that first session of any concern about any of the items presented. Questions were asked, but the follow ups were poor and there was no indication in any of the discussion that evening that any changes would be made.

My comment to him was that I have never known the Council to cut the mayor’s budget further. I have watched the council add to the mayor’s proposal. I have watched them switch a few things around. I have heard them discuss budget items to show those listening that they know what is in the budget and what it is for. But I have never seen them actually reduce spending from the mayor’s proposal.

I guess I will have to
                                                                     Just Wait.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Discussion : SC Johnson’s new development helping fund district to revitalize Uptown

Discussion : SC Johnson’s new development helping fund district to revitalize Uptown:"We manage a building in Uptown and we would most like to see that vacant lot occupied. This BID-TID will not suffer from Jwax’s money. I opposed the BID, but it is looking up, right now.
The major tripping point will be the artist thing. But government never does it the easy way, at least not this government. Why not let everyone participate equally?
If you have a business and want to rent one of the stores out, whether you are an artist or not, it should be: COME ON OVER.
Everyone should be welcome."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Soul Searching Event

After three hours of inquisition, no council member showed a modicum of interest in cutting anything from the budget. The entire three hour session was dedicated to listening to City Administrator Tom Friedel, Mayor John Dickert and nine of the Department Heads each explain his or her part of the city budget.

I heard nothing that challenged any of the spending. Any question about spending, if it was meant to be challenging, said challenge was quickly dispelled with a brief explanation of how or why the money was spent. In bobble head fashion, no alderman pushed on stating it did not need to be spent that way or any way. Each in turn acquiesced to the flow, took the easy way out, and continued on with the program.

Departments covered: General Administration (Aldermen and Mayor), City Development, Assessor, Finance, Health Department, Neighborhood Watch, Car25, MIS, Library and Civic Center.

The City Assessor stated that assessment would remain level for this year. But in 2010 it looks like they will be coming down 5 to 9%. Assessors, aldermen and the Mayor are hanging dearly onto their lie. The Assessor still maintains that their are "two markets:" one where buildings are selling at the true price and the other where (most) buildings are selling at a depressed price—evidence of typical government practice of denying the existence of the free market.

Alderman Greg Helding added to the "two market" myth, observing that "good, high priced, well kept" properties will have to bear a greater percentage of the tax burden as so many run down properties will have their assessments lowered because of their "condition."

ATTENTION MR. HELDING: This will occur only if you continue to deny that even the high priced edifices are dropping in value.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE EVENING, for me anyway, came after the meeting was over when Alderman Bob Anderson approached me in the hall. What I had stated in my three minute talk-allotment last Tuesday
at the Oct 20 Council Meeting about UNIT being unconstitutional had been bugging him.

He asked me a few pertinent questions about this illegal condition, which I answered and he understood.

We ended the conversation outside in the cold rainy weather. He left with his usual good natured smile...but bothered.

I left knowing if we persist, we can win.

They will try to ignore you, they will pretend to not listen. But if you speak the truth, and do it frequently, the goodness that lies deep within their souls will hear you. And it will eventually respond.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Assessments: Do as I Say; Not as I Do

It is fairly common knowledge that the City Assessor got stuck in 2007 and has yet failed to wake up to real property Fair Market Values (FMV).

But someone in the City government is wise to it.

The Planning Department wants to purchase the property owned by the County at 1132 Irving Place for its Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The property is assessed at $36,000.

The maximum authorized for the purchase is $10,050, or about 27% of the FMV established by the City Assessor.

(These notes from the Common Council meeting 10/20/09)

The Armadillo (armored car)

The Police Chief was granted authorization to accept a donation of a 1999 armored car.

So far, no harm done.

The problem arises when it gets used. Apparently the plan is to install surveillance equipment in the car and the park it on the street and “stake out” the area with the car.

It is almost laughable. Certainly anyone living in the area or anyone who knows about the car will be on their good behavior when in the locale of the car. So who will it catch doing dishonest deeds?

Is the money that will be used to tool up the car and get it to its locations well spent?

(These notes from the Common Council meeting 10/20/09)

The UNIT and the Great City

At his budget address last night, Mayor John Dickert expressed a goal of returning the City of Racine to its former greatness. It is a goal I heartily endorse. But can he do it?

Racine became great because there was a great deal of freedom here a hundred fifty years ago. And government was very small. A Mayor’s term, for instance, was only one year. And Mayors changed almost that often too.

Now government is very large and imposing. We can’t even hold a rummage sale when we want to. Just try to start a business in town. And people in government stay there way too long.

But what I am most concerned about is the violation of constitutional rights. You cannot have a great city while at the same time violating the rights of constituents. And we have an institution in City Hall that does just that. It is called the UNIT.

The UNIT issues fees which in reality are fines.

And in the assessment of these fines, the UNIT violates a citizen’s right to due process and there is no legitimate appeal.

In addition the fines are issued arbitrarily and capriciously. What they fine is not clearly defined by ordinance. When UNIT inspectors asked about this, their boss is reported to have told them, “Just look at it. If it looks OK, then forget it. Otherwise, write it up.”

If the inspector is having a good day, then it is OK. If he or she is having a bad day, then you get a fee. That is arbitrary and capricious.

When government violates the rights of its constituents, a wall of separation starts to build up a between the two of them. And then the government and its constituents become opponents in a game instead of team members working towards the same goal.

They start to live in two different worlds: the world of government, and the real world.

A while back I was talking to an alderman about this violation of constitutional rights. He did not like the idea of an appeal of UNIT citations. His statement was that when they get appealed to municipal court they just get dismissed!

Those in government understand his feeling. They want the money. Those of us in the private sector prefer our constitutional rights.

Recently the UNIT found a car parked on the lawn of a single family rental unit that we manage. Instead of fining the tenant, UNIT issued $125.00 in fees to the owner of the property, twice what the police department would have charged the owner of the automobile.

Those in government will rationalize that UNIT action. But most in the private sector find it appalling. Why not put responsibility where responsibility should be: fine the owner of the car.

At least there should have been a route of appeal for the owner of the property.

Like I say, government officials and their constituents live in two different worlds. And as these worlds grow further apart, those goals will become more difficult to achieve. Watch out when the T shirts appear saying don’t cooperate with the cops.

It’s an $84 million budget. The Aldermen can’t be that desperate for the $350,000 UNIT generates in the illegal manner I have described.

Unit can operate legally, just like it did before Gary Becker and Rick Heller devised the new system.

It must operate legally if we want to achieve the greatness for this city that we all desire.

(This is an edited version of my statments to the Common Council at its 10/20/09 meeting. You can see and hear them "in the body" on Car25.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

City Budget Introduced

The crowd gathered for the proclamation with photographers, recorders and reporters at the fringes. The Mayor brought coffee to the lectern, casually sipped from the cup and proceeded to introduce the budget document.

“Every challenge amount to an opportunity,” he proclaimed as he dove into his monologue announcing the decline in State shared revenue funds of from 2 to 5%. (The actual amount, he then went on to admit, was 2%.)

The shared revenue drop was $400K but the city cut back in spending an amount of $628K. The appearance is that he covered the drop, with some to spare. But in the end, the tax levy still increased $634K over the estimated spending for 2009.

The tax rate will finally rear its ugly head. Tax rates have declined for eight years according to the budget document. My guess is that it has been longer than that. But the chart only goes back to 2001. The burgeoning housing market driven by speculation and lowered interest rates have allowed the Mayors Smith and Becker to cloud their spending proclivities claiming a drop in the tax rate.

But not this year. The tax rate will increase about 6%. But that is only a start as the City Assessor has continued to proclaim false assessments between 50 and 100% above actual fair market values of properties.

Dickert says he did not lay off any bureaucrats because of the 17% unemployment rate. He backs up this position stating,“Never in my life have I seen such selfless sacrifice as I have this year,” referring to the role the bureaucracy played in keeping the budget at the level at which it came out.

He finished his presentation with statements about his plans with housing, crime and jobs.