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Inside the Beaver's Dam

The Dam Insider is keeping an eye out for you, tracking the elected leaders of Beaver Dam, Dodge County, Wisconsin and beyond. Email your thoughts or tips. Emails may be published unless otherwise requested. Requests will be honored.

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Location: Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, United States

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Message from the Mayor

From Beaver Dam Mayor Jack Hankes, in response to recent posts about service costs and collective bargaining:

There’s too much nonsense and too many factual errors in here to reply to all of it, but I’ll offer a couple of general thoughts.

First, I never say we should run the city like a business. The reason is that Enron and Worldcom were businesses. I do say, however, that there is always room to apply some business principles. Doing so is neither risk nor error-free. One option we don't have is to do nothing.

Businesses have to satisfy customers with a suitable combination of things – product, price, value, fit, finish, etc – you name it. If they stray too far from what their customers want, or they don’t listen to their customers, customers go elsewhere. Taxpayers are customers, too. I know that rubs some people wrong, but they are. Many of them tell us they want to keep all of the services they get now (a rational position), but that the price is too high. They say that with their votes (the Council is far more conservative now than it was two years ago), and with their feet (they simply move to the township, where taxes are an eighth of what they are in the city). According to the Citizen, Beaver Dam’s population actually declined a smidge since 2000.

In bargaining, it takes two parties to agree. The city has offered raises it can responsibly afford, but it is clear the BU’s see the offers as inadequate. I understand everybody’s frustration, believe me, but anger and name calling and finger-pointing doesn’t change the math, thus the negotiation process continues.

Some prefer to ignore the effect of levy limits. For ’07 it appears we’ll be able to bump the levy about $230K. We learned this week that our health insurance increase alone may be more than that. We still need an updated police station, we need to ramp up street repair, and we need to invest in some systems. This morning’s paper explained that the legislature may push for even tougher spending limits, so it is clear this movie is going to continue.

The conditions we face today took thirty years to put in place; we won't be able to change them overnight.

MJ

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it curious that Judge Judy needs to reply as a comment but Jack Hankes has a direct pipeline to the main page? But he is correct about the legislature taking the last thirty years to create this mess. Maybe that's where we need to start cleaning house.

Sat Jul 29, 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Dam Insider said...

Editor's note:

Mayor Hankes sent me his reply via email. Had Judge Johnson done the same, she would have received her own seperate post too.

Sat Jul 29, 09:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Hankes, careful of the overgeneralization. Taxes in the townships and not an eighth of city taxes! I live in a township and my taxes are roughly 5500 a year. Who in the city is paying 40,000+ a year in taxes? Can you point your finger to anyone and say he moved to a township so he can reduce his taxes. That's a stretch.

Sat Jul 29, 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger Dam Insider said...

Net local property tax rate 2004-05:
City of Beaver Dam $8.18
Town of Beaver Dam $1.03

Data provided by Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance

Sat Jul 29, 11:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Judge Judy said...

I answered a question that was addressed on a main page. I didn't feel it was necessary that I send an email directly.

Mayor Hankes had more direct things to say, so therefore, he had the right to email his comments in a different format.

Let's not make something out of nothing.

Mon Jul 31, 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to live in the city and now live in the township. There's no question the taxes are lower in the township. Which means you can afford more home for your money. It's pretty easy to figure it out. There are fewer services provided by the town of BD. Therefore, the cost assessed to pay for those services is lower.

Tue Aug 01, 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

City taxpayers also need to realize that the mayor ALSO gets the "cadillac" pension and benefits he frequently refers to when addressing City employees and their compensation. He gets an additional slice of the pie from taxpayers paying HIS share of the health insurance premiums.....all while trying to deny police and firemen legitimately earned retirement benefits! If city employees are going to be expected to pony up and share the budget pain, and they may well have to, perhaps it should start at the top?

Wed Aug 02, 08:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After all the comments that have appeared, it causes me to wonder if going into arbitration has been worth it to the citizens of the city. The legal bills accumulated attempting to settle the contract and now to go into arbitration possibly could have settled this contract and the city would not still be in the hole! Makes one wonder if the city has not been penny wise and pound foolish! And to top things off, they still have to pay out the back pay!

Mon Aug 07, 09:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Looking Out From Lampe said...

Looks like thinks are starting to become clear. The last anonymous seems to understand the cost of things.

You, the Taxpayers, in The City of Beaver Dam, only have twenty months or so left under this regieme. Maybe a better choice for you lies ahead in the next election??

Mon Aug 07, 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger MJ said...

Suppose we've spent $150K on the labor attorney so far. $150K would no doubt pay for a pay raise - for one year. What about next year, and the year after that?

If we (the Personnel Committee and I) thought we were negotiating for only one year, this would be an easy settlement. The simple fact is a $150K raise creates the need for an additional $150K per year, forever. It's additive and cumulative.

Second, the 'anonymous' claiming taxpayers are paying my share of the health insurance need only get on Caselle and look. It's very public information. You're wrong.

Yes, I get excellent benefits; the difference is that I'm not asking for more. And yes, the next election may bring some excellent candidates, but they'll be working with the same math. MJ

Mon Aug 14, 10:11:00 PM  

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