As a taxpayer in Racine, I have to disagree with the comments Mayor Cory Mason made in his commentary printed by The Journal Times on Sept. 18. The mayor’s “strategy” to pit active employees against retired employees over health care is shameful.
He talks about all the great accomplishments Racine is providing to its residents as if it were all free. Our taxes are some of the highest in the state. Leadership has created TIFs that have shown very little chance of developing.
Two new TIFs are coming up for vote in the near future, taking more money out of the general fund. The city receives over $3 million annually from Racine Water Utility ratepayers in the form of payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) to generate revenue. That number continues to grow.
The city receives millions from other communities in shared revenue. The reality is our leadership has wasted more money on attorneys, consultants and contractors feeding projects that have gone belly up.
The mayor stated that “choices made by previous city administrations and the Legislature” was the problem for the $5 million deficit. The mayor was, and still is, part of the decision-making process that put Racine in this hole. I’ve been involved in local government long enough to know decisions are not made without the team.
For 11 years prior to becoming mayor, he was our legislator, part of the team of Gov. Jim Doyle, Sen. John Lehman, Mayor Gary Becker and Mayor John Dickert. With his input, decisions were made at the local level.
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I recall him speaking at the unveiling of Machinery Row. He was involved with the proposed coliseum, Gaslight Pointe, the Walker Project, and the Olsen Manufacturing site, to name a few. My hope is Foxconn does not follow the same path, costing us even more than we’ve already paid.
The mayor is turning active employees against retired employees. He suggests that retired employees do not pay their fair share to health care. That is a false statement. Retirees may no longer be active, but during their active role they chose health care over higher wages.
It was the retired employees who got the health care coverage for the ones working today. To imply those who worked 30, 40 years of their lives do not contribute is a joke.
The vast majority of these people are now on fixed income needing every dollar they earned. The easy answer is to blame health care instead of facing up to the real problem “deals gone bad” on the city’s part.
The city would be better served if the mayor used his expertise as a former legislator and active mayor to promote change in national health care. Do not put the burden on the back of retired employees who have worked hard for the City of Racine during their careers and now have no voice.