Budget

State funding to city, county flat

City says without increase, more cuts to come
2013-02-21T06:25:00Z 2013-12-17T10:52:36Z State funding to city, county flatALISON BAUTER alison.bauter@journaltimes.com Journal Times

RACINE — Gov. Scott Walker offered no new funding for local governments in his budget released Wednesday, frustrating some in Racine, where the city administrator says flat state revenue means more service cuts over the next biennium.

After slicing shared revenue in his last budget, Walker’s proposed 2013-15 biennial budget neither cuts nor bolsters city and county coffers over the next two years, where state tax dollars help fund local services like police and fire protection, street maintenance and more.

“We’re happy that at least it’s staying flat,” said Racine Mayor John Dickert. “We’d like to see more, but we’re waiting to see where the rest of the city aides will be.”

Nonetheless, the flat funding is a blow when the city is already scrimping to save on services after taking a $1 million hit to shared revenue in the last budget, said City Administrator Tom Friedel.

With an anticipated state budget surplus, Friedel said Racine was hoping to see double last year’s funding in this year’s budget proposal.

Without more shared revenue, “Any increase that we incur in expenses — whether that be the Wisconsin Retirement System contributions going up, or cost of fuel or electricity increasing — any of those costs that we incur will have to be borne by the property taxpayers,” Friedel said.

Levy limitations imposed by the state mean Racine can’t push taxpayers’ portion any higher, Friedel said, and the city will likely have to resort to further service reductions as a result.

Meanwhile, County Executive Jim Ladwig took the shared revenue stasis in stride.

“Obviously we’d like to see an increase, but we understand budget times are tough all over the place,” Ladwig said, adding, “We have to make do with what we’re given.”

Ladwig, who attended the governor’s budget address in Madison Wednesday, said he saw little point in lobbying the state Legislature to increase the proposed shared revenue funding.

“I’m a realist,” Ladwig said. “Let’s be honest — I don’t know that the state Legislature has an appetite to increase our shared revenue.”

Instead, Ladwig said he hoped to discuss better allocating existing revenue, giving the county more resources only where they can be more effectively employed by the local government than the state.

Dickert said the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Urban Alliance of Cities still intend to make the shared revenue push on behalf of Racine and other member cities, making the case that local dollars foster local jobs which drive the state’s economy, according to Dickert.

Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos, a Rochester Republican, said he’s willing to listen to arguments for more revenue “if they have corresponding saving.” But, he added, “I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the City of Racine because they have chosen not to take advantage of Act 10,” the collective bargaining law that saw many cities cutting costs by implementing new public union contracts.

Vos summed up, “In the world we are living in which families are learning to do more with the same or less, local cities and governments have to do the same.”

Copyright 2016 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(20) Comments

  1. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - February 23, 2013 5:58 am
    Detroit Leads - Racine Follows.

    Detroit — Nearly half of the owners of Detroit's 305,000 properties failed to pay their tax bills last year, exacerbating a punishing cycle of declining revenues and diminished services for a city in a financial crisis, according to a Detroit News analysis of government records.

    Looks like the tough people of Detroit have an answer to the threats that City Administrator Tom Friedel like to make against residents:

    "Why pay taxes?" asked Fred Phillips, who owes more than $2,600 on his home on an east-side block where five owners paid 2011 taxes. "Why should I send them taxes when they aren't supplying services? It is sickening. … Every time I see the tax bill come, I think about the times we called and nobody came."

    Delinquency is so pervasive that 77 blocks had only one owner who paid taxes last year, The News found. Many of those who don't pay question why they should in a city that struggles to light its streets or keep police on them.

    This week, a state-appointed review team concluded the city can't fix its financial problems. Any emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder would have to grapple with a broken property tax system. The city's share of uncollected taxes last year was $131 million — an amount equal to 12 percent of Detroit's general fund budget.

    A four-month News investigation found:

    Detroit has the highest property taxes among big cities nationwide and relies on assessments that are seriously inflated. Many houses are assessed at more than 10 times their market price, according to new research from two Michigan professors.

    Detroit's delinquencies are so pervasive that some owners have been allowed to keep their property even if they don't pay taxes. Wayne County treasury officials are so overwhelmed by foreclosures that they ignored about 40,000 delinquent Detroit properties that should have been seized last year and said they will look the other way on about 36,000 this year.


    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130221/METRO01/302210375#ixzz2LiroeH3s

  2. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - February 22, 2013 5:48 am
    It was a huge mistake to allow Racine to have so many TID's. Team Porters should have never occurred. The politicians poorly explained these TID's to the people. Large parts of Downtown should have been allowed to fail. Same with Uptown. Tens of millions in debt and subsidies all so they Downtown crowd can party on while not paying their fair share.

    As Downtown loots the city for tax money - the blight spreads.

    There is an ever decreasing number of viable taxpayers left to cover for all the deadbeats and TID's in Racine. Reckless borrowing by the dynamic duo of Tom and John will crush the residents with debt. The Tsunami is coming.

    Large parts of Racine would be better well served to sever their ties with the City and get annexed to surrounding communities, if that is possible. Let Downtown fail by itself. The plug should have been pulled long ago.

    Far too many aren't subject to the incessant tax increases, RUSD, Gateway, or County taxes. Taxpayer funded welfare is a way of life for many of Racine's so called Businessmen.
  3. Gearhead
    Report Abuse
    Gearhead - February 21, 2013 9:35 pm
    Peace, you have a hard time with linear thought, don't you? M's and B's have nothing to do with Vos' statement, which is accurate. But tell me - when is it a good time for government to recede and spend less? When the economy is growing? When the economy shrinks? When the city loses population? When RUSD enrollment declines?

    In every case government grows. This is unsustainable. Responsible entities deal with the reality government needs to shrink, instead of slobbering for more candy. But it will be fun watching you tie yourself into knots justifying it.
  4. ordmm
    Report Abuse
    ordmm - February 21, 2013 6:27 pm
    I Come In Peace.....You posted "1000's of good hard working people lost their jobs because of Walker". Really. And how do you come up with that distorted fact.
  5. ordmm
    Report Abuse
    ordmm - February 21, 2013 6:25 pm
    I Come In Peace...You posted "One reason Racine has an inner city is because our manufacturing base has moved out". Please give details...why did the manufacturing base move out.
  6. Django
    Report Abuse
    Django - February 21, 2013 3:49 pm
    Looks like Becker is being released just in time to save us.
  7. I Come In Peace
    Report Abuse
    I Come In Peace - February 21, 2013 3:13 pm
    Tin foil hat anyone?
  8. I Come In Peace
    Report Abuse
    I Come In Peace - February 21, 2013 3:10 pm
    The City of Racine has been dying because of Reaganomics and jobs moving to China. One reason Racine has an inner city is because our manufacturing base has moved out.
  9. I Come In Peace
    Report Abuse
    I Come In Peace - February 21, 2013 3:08 pm
    This is not true. Local communities have been hurt badly because of these cuts. 1000's of good hard working people lost their jobs because of Walker.
  10. I Come In Peace
    Report Abuse
    I Come In Peace - February 21, 2013 3:07 pm
    "Vos summed up, “In the world we are living in which families are learning to do more with the same or less, local cities and governments have to do the same."

    But hey!!! The US has a record number of Millionaires and Billionaires, may who don't pay any taxes. Let's be honest, Vos is not for the middle class.
  11. ordmm
    Report Abuse
    ordmm - February 21, 2013 1:31 pm
    LoveRacine....Give the Gov some time. He has a couple years left as Governor. Don't think quick fixes are the answer. I really feel the decisions that Gov. Walker is making will turn out to be good ones. You said it yourself...."the school voucher program that has not been around long enough to show any real postive results"....well you may want to consider is the alternative is the status quo of RUSD and like failed school districts.
  12. Once in a while
    Report Abuse
    Once in a while - February 21, 2013 12:36 pm
    Unfortunately the City of Racine has been dying for a number of years and has not been proactive in addressing the plight of the inner city and problems associated with it. The population has gone from 100,000 down to 80,000. Services really need to be cut accordingly. You can't expect all the taxpayers outside the city to continue to fund a poorly run city and the mismanagement that has been going on for years.

    Look South to Kenosha to get some ideas. Heck just drive down and look around. Mayor Dickert and the Aldermen can't continue to expect to be bailed out by the Governor and the State. Thank you Governor Walker and Mr. Vos for telling it like it is. Enough is Enough - time to pony up.
  13. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - February 21, 2013 12:24 pm
    Without more shared revenue, “Any increase that we incur in expenses — whether that be the Wisconsin Retirement System contributions going up, or cost of fuel or electricity increasing — any of those costs that we incur will have to be borne by the property taxpayers,” Friedel said.

    City Administrator Tom Friedel must be getting worried about the City defaulting on bond payments or being able to meet payroll. With over one foreclosure a day in the City and the highest rate of unemployment in the State , how does he expect to squeeze more blood from the turnips?

    I wonder what Moody's would say about the Bond Rating- especially if they saw some of the derelict, decrepit and worthless properties the City call collateral.
  14. PrimeTime69
    Report Abuse
    PrimeTime69 - February 21, 2013 11:41 am
    What does it take for you people to realize that the mayor is destroying this city and community. He cares about friends and family, you not friends or family? your're screwed. Look at the facts Racine. I predict Dickert and a few others will end up in Federal Prison within 1-2 years from now.
  15. Green Racinereal
    Report Abuse
    Green Racinereal - February 21, 2013 11:41 am

    Thank God for Walker maybe he will look into the fun and games at City Hall and perhaps we will see a Mayor and County Supervisor go to jail for abuse of power and ripping off the City.
  16. Green Racinereal
    Report Abuse
    Green Racinereal - February 21, 2013 11:05 am
    Maybe if Mayor John Dickert quit getting sued (or suing the city) giving City Departments and cash to pals to run them, the City of Racine be better off with funds?

    The first to go out the door should be The City Administrator.
  17. LoveRacine
    Report Abuse
    LoveRacine - February 21, 2013 9:18 am
    An $80,000 a year house hold would gain $2.00 per week through his state income tax reduction plan!? The median household income for Wisconsin is $52,762 so, "whoopdy doo" for the income tax proposal. Adding 700 new government jobs--isn't this expanding government?? Boasting a budget surplus for the past and now present budget, of course, because he took it from the municipalities in the form of reduced revenue sharing! $188 million in unfunded mandates?? Expanding the school voucher program that has not been around long enough to show any real positive results. Almost nothing in this budget is making sense.
  18. Gearhead
    Report Abuse
    Gearhead - February 21, 2013 8:54 am
    Vos nails it. Statewide, hundreds of municipalities have saved billions of dollars to the delight and relief of their taxpayers. All achieved this without the draconian cuts threatened by the city. Is Racine somehow unique that it can't accomplish this too? Well, we did at the county level. Perhaps it comes down to leadership and discipline. The mayor would do well to hang out less with big shot big-city mayors, feds and their profligate ways. It's a losing hand.
  19. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - February 21, 2013 8:21 am
    That is because Mayor Dickert wasn't smart enough to wait and chose to rush through contracts -

    “I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the City of Racine because they have chosen not to take advantage of Act 10,” the collective bargaining law that saw many cities cutting costs by implementing new public union contracts.

    That's true.

    This is what John Dickert said:

    With big cuts looming for local government, the City of Racine is trying to get its union workers back to the bargaining table. The unions seem ready to make a deal, but is that a good deal for taxpayers?

    Racine's mayor says the unions involved have come to the table, and make concessions. He adds this all comes at a time where question marks surround state, and federal funding for the city. As a result the city is trying to balance cuts and services, at a time where their financial footing is very unstable.

    City of Racine employees have worked without a contract since December 31, 2010. The effort for new contracts is motivated in part by the events in Madison.

    If Governor Walker's budget repair bill is passed most of their collective bargaining rights would be stripped away, and they would have to contribute more to their pensions and health insurance.

    Racine's Mayor John Dickert isn't calling this a sprint to get deals done before the state budget is passed, saying these deals have been months in the making.


    http://racine.fox6now.com/news/news/city-racine-approves-new-contacts-60-employees/57280
  20. Local
    Report Abuse
    Local - February 21, 2013 7:41 am
    Speaker Vos, check your facts. Most of the union contracts were approved or in process before Act 10 was announced. All approved after it was announced were consistent with Act 10's requirements.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick