Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

From Racine Exposted 2/18/13

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Why Democracies Fail

On October 24, 2012, the residents of Racine were treated to Mayor John Dickert’s 2013 budget speech.

It is obvious that the challenge before us is a great one, but let me be clear – if the State’s actions continue -the City will be forced to evaluate if, and how we can afford the quality of life issues that make our city great, like the zoo, North Beach, Festival and Memorial Hall, our parks and even our BUS system.

In preparation, I have asked my department heads to look long term at what the city will look like in the next 5-7 years if these cuts continue. I will tell you that it is likely the items I just mentioned will all have to be on the table.

These cuts will impact all of us, but it is not enough to just cut budgets. I believe that you have to work smarter and harder to build a great city, and that is what this administration is doing. Therefore, we continue to work to make sure we are fiscally responsible and plan for a successful tomorrow.

Shortly after Mayor John Dickert’s budget speech, residents of Racine were shocked to learn that the Mayor intended to cut Fire Station 5.

Nov. 1, 2013 from The JT

RACINE — Faced with having to cut three paramedic/firefighters in the 2013 budget, Racine Fire Department Chief Steve Hansen said Wednesday that his department may have no other choice than to close Fire Station 5, 2430 Blaine Ave.

Followed by the announcement that the Mayor had made a plea for funds from local non-profits.

November 03, 2012  from The JT

RACINE — In September Mayor John Dickert’s office sent letters to 182 local nonprofits, including churches, asking the tax-exempt organizations if they would consider paying a portion of the property tax the city would normally charge them if their properties were taxed.

The idea was that if the organizations donated even a little bit to city coffers it would help Racine better weather a nasty financial season. According to the letter, any money the city received through Nov. 1 would be applied to its 2013 budget.

With the city already well into its budget planning process, City Administrator Tom Friedel said Friday that the city has yet to collect any money through the program, dubbed “Racine’s Fair Share.”

Then, suddenly, a miracle occurred, and City Hall found the funds to save the fire station – disaster had been averted at the last minute.

Nov. 21, 2012 from The JT

RACINE — A previously imperiled fire station will stay open and hours at two community centers will remain the same under a final 2013 spending plan approved by the City Council Tuesday night. 

After weeks of budget presentations and hours of discussions, aldermen were able to reach a number of agreements last week, transferring funds to struggling departments in an effort to ward off cuts. In addition to coming up with a plan to keep Fire Station 5, 2430 Blaine Ave., open, aldermen found dollars for Tyler-Domer and Humble Park community centers.

Even a small number of non-profits answered the call of the Mayor and donated   money to the City.

Jan 17,2013 from The JT

RACINE — A total of three local nonprofits have stepped forward to donate money to help the city cover some of its costs in 2013.

This week, Mayor John Dickert’s office sent out a press release thanking the Olympia Brown Unitarian Church, Beth Israel Sinai Congregation and the Racine Education Association who together donated $2,100 to the City.

While the Mayor is publicly saying that the party needs to end – and that party is largely  due to the Mayor’s reckless spending problem approved by a compliant and complicit Common Council –  City Hall is privately INCREASING spending and EXPANDING programs even as Mayor John Dickert cries that he is “BROKE!”

Instead of  “continuing to work to make sure we are fiscally responsible and plan for a successful tomorrow” the Mayor, the City Adminstrator and the Common Council are spending without restraint, expanding programs, and expecting the resident of Racine to bail them out and vote YES on the April 2 referendum.

The Referendum

The Common  Council of Racine states that it is in the best interest of it’s residents to grant a yearly increase of 5% every year from 2014 on out.


Let’s do the math – $49,960,322 at 5% yearly for twenty years.


Do you believe that this is in your best interest? Is the boss going to be able to give you a raise big enough to cover the increases?  What’s going to happen to the value of your home? Will your business be able to raise prices enough to cover the costs and still remain viable? Where does this end? Will large employers remain in Racine, or will they leave?

And why can’t the root of the problem, uncontrolled spending, lavish salaries and benefits for salaried employees be addressed?  The City cannot realistically support a bureaucracy made up of $100,000+ positions. Additionally, the City went overboard on funding entertainment venues and needs to eliminate many from the budget. The city needs to learn how to  live simply, so others may simply live.

Remember that this is the increase ONLY for the  property taxes of The City of Racine , Gateway has a referendum to add $49M in new borrowing, and RUSD borrowed another $42M and other taxing authorities will demand increases. The Common Council has also raised fees, and will do so again in the future.

The problem with Racine government was identified by former   County Executive Bill McReynolds: “But what the taxpaying public has to understand is that if we’re going to get control on property taxes, we’re going to have to cut programs that are not mandated by the state and that are not core functions of county government.”

It is time to return to a limited government, cut the functions that are not core services, and clawback  some of the outrageous salary and compensation gains that were given to the public employees, both salaried and  union, during the real estate bubble.

Former Alderman Eric Marcus’s  proposal to re-align the lavish salaries and compensation of public officials with Racine’s economic reality got him branded Persona Non Grata at City Hall.

Dec. 21, 2011 from The JT:

RACINE — An alderman’s proposal to review vacant high-paying city positions in hopes of finding cost-saving opportunities is dead.

The City Council unanimously approved the committee’s recommendation to receive and file the proposal without discussion on Tuesday night. Committee members previously said the proposal bordered on micromanagement, was time-consuming and would interfere with human resources duties.

City Administrator Tom Friedel has said the city already vets any position when it becomes vacant, including studying how cutting the position would affect services and waiting for months to fill such vacancy to see if a department can still function. He said there are about 150 city positions that are paid more than $100,000 a year in salaries and benefits.

The Math should make it clear who you cannot afford. A Common Council that makes  poor decisions based on flimsy premises, a City Administrator who is out of touch with reality, and a Mayor whose brand of Chicago Style politics and crony capitalism is leading Racine to financial ruin!

Here is an interesting video that will teach you about the exponential function, growth, and the public’s failure to understand the ramifications of these demands.


The story with video is here:



Funding the plan

So in a few weeks the Rootworks plan be passed and be the law of the land. The question now becomes how in Hell do we pay for any of this.
Mind you some of the plan is in the way of Cities cheep. A paint only Bike Trail costs very little and may in fact pay for itself in safety. Bikes in Bike lanes IMHO are safer then milling about.
An added foot bridge across the River would be not much BUT far more then a paint only Bike Path still as it comes to the plan not out of sight.

Infrastructure, such as fixing the intersection of Water and Marquette (and the buying of the buildings in that intersection would be done via a TIF (If I understand how TIF’s work) and that corner needs to be fixed as I see it. Sure they are ways that TIF’s can be misused and being someone that does not trust city Goverment leadership, so it be nice if say the City Council would keep tabs on the TIF if and when its formed, like that will happen. These are all side bars to the ideas of the RootWorks plan that IMHO gets the City of Racine Good Old Boys hard.
The main one being KRM, now I have been told by a few working in City planing jobs/Mass Transit types that plans are often created without knowing if they will EVER BE CARRIED OUT. Wow, shocking to me that some group/Goverment would spend tons of cash and to me the RootRiver cost lots of money for it not to be tried. IMHO every word in the plan is met to move the plan and all its parts forward. Therefore they talk about KRM to bring it about. Silly Rabbits KRM is dead The South Eastern Wisconsin Transit has been disbanded the funding mechanism removed. No way in God’s Earth is Govenor Scott Walker or Rep Robin Voss going to allow it to return. The recall that folks like the Tick Corry Mason and Mayor John Dickert bet on failed. KRM is not coming back in my lifetime 5 years. I do not think any chance of it coming back in my Grandkids Lifetime. Move the F on KRM folks.
The other big thing as I see it is Azarian Marina some obstacles are there like does the City buy it for tons of cash or use the fact that this land is behind on taxes to get it that way. Going back to the TIF idea some funds can be found via that the rest who know?
Thing is I think the City has no idea either.
In the Day of the big tick the old Governor Jim Doyle our Mayor in meeting with State Bodies planted Seeds he thought would bare fruit, sorry Mayor Dickert, Governor Walker cut the vines down so the tax payer can keep his own money.

Did the Root River Council spend all this money, do such a great Dog and Pony Show for nothing?
Sure as I see this RootWorks can help the Good old boys keep an illusion that they matter and they have a clue, that we need to believe. Should we? What would you think if the City of Racine say took down more lights to fund a new footbridge? Where will the money come to create a web page and maintain it? Questions questions