Mayor’s budget passes committee of the whole meeting tonight
At tonight’s special meeting of the Common Council, the mayor’s proposed budget was passed, after much deliberation, by a vote of 9 to 8. Those in opposition were Alderpersons Theodore Ruffalo, G. John Ruffolo, Lawrence Green, Anthony Nudo, Steve Bostrom, Ray Misner, Jesse Downing, and David Bogdala.
At the outset, a public hearing was held, first on the 2012-2016 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), and then on the 2012 City of Kenosha Budget. John Fox was the only citizen who spoke regarding the CIP; he was against the spending of $6 million on the Simmons Island development. Several citizens thanked the Common Council for restoring the Saturday bus service and for listening to the needs of the community, including Ron Frederick, Sandy Milligan, Pauline Waara, and Robert Christiansen. Bob Danbeck’s comments had to do with not raising his taxes. Michael Maki, one of the city’s four community development specialists, spoke in favor of retaining the four specialists. Ray Forgianni spoke in favor of a council that works with the mayor. And, David Molinaro, a 27-year Kenosha Police Department sergeant and brother of Mark Molinaro, spoke in favor of not raising the health care deductibles of supervisors.
The CIP was approved unanimously.
Regarding the city’s operating budget, Bogdala again presented a resolution very similar to the one that was presented at the last Finance Committee meeting, but with a few additional items. Click here to review the 2012 Proposed Budget Amendment, as presented by Bogdala: 2012 Proposed Budget Amendment. Even though several alderpersons spoke in favor of his resolution (because it kept the tax levy at 0%), it failed to pass by a vote of 7 to 10. “I’ll keep fighting as long as I sit in this chair.” After the vote, Bogdala then stated that he would not be supporting anything else on tonight’s agenda. Nudo wanted to know why his fellow alderpersons thought it was a bad idea.
The mayor spoke in favor of his budget as being “a responsible budget.” He mentioned that cuts over the past four years have gone beyond short-staffing the city government. “I take the full blame for raising taxes,” he said. “Government still has to operate in an efficient manner.”
Bostrom disagreed with the mayor. “The mayor’s budget which includes a 1.44% increase in the tax levy is not responsible. People are hurting.” He stated that he didn’t understand the pushback. Misner called for the administration to make sacrifices, too. G. John Ruffolo couldn’t believe how his fellow alderpersons could be “so callous to the public’s cries.”
Prozanski spoke in favor of the mayor’s budget. The increase in the tax levy represents “a five and one-half cent a day increase on a median home in the city of Kenosha.” Alderperson Anthony Kennedy was questioning Carol Stancato, the finance director, on the general fund balance and the percentages, even though she and the mayor recommended not moving any money out of the general fund balance because it would negatively affect the city’s Moody’s bond rating. Kennedy called for an in-depth study of the city’s organization and the compensation of its officials first. Bostrom picked up what Kennedy started and asked Stancato if $868,000 in expenses would be cut out of the city’s budget by adopting Bogdala’s amendment, then wouldn’t that bring the percentage closer to what Moody’s recommended (the 15-17% range)?
After the city’s operating budget vote, the remainder of the agenda items were passed rather quickly:
- The 2012 Special Revenue Fund – Recycling & Yard Waste was passed by a vote of 12 to 5;
- The 2012 Special Revenue Fund – Emergency Medical Services was passed by a vote of 12 to 4;
- The 2012 Special Revenue Fund on Community Promotions was approved by a vote of 11 to 5;
- The 2012 Public Library Tax Levy was passed by a vote of 12 to 5;
- The 2012 Public Museum Budget was passed by a vote of 11 to 6;
- The resolution by the mayor to approve the 2012 Budget and Operating Plan of the Kenosha Lakeshore Business Improvement District (BID) and to levy special assessments was approved by a vote of 11 to 6;
- The resolution by the mayor to amend the Emergency Medical Service User Fees was passed by a vote of 10 to 7;
- The resolution by the mayor to approve the Table of Organization for various city departments and to modify the 2012 Compensation Plans for managerial, supervisory, professional, and confidential employees and for limited term, seasonal, temporary, and part-time employees was passed by a vote of 10 to 6, with one abstention (Downing);
- The resolution by the mayor to establish Stormwater Utility Rates within the city was passed by a vote of 10 to 7; and
- The approval of the lease between the city of Kenosha and the Kenosha Public Library was approved by a vote of 12 to 5.
Tomorrow night’s special meeting will be to vote on the resolutions which were passed by the committee of the whole tonight.