Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Possibly a reasonable solution for now

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Given where we are in the budget process, this may be the breathing room the city of Waukesha needs to straighten out the budget mess created by Mayor Jeff Scrima,

Assembly Bill 319 allows municipal employers to make modifications in compensation and fringe benefits for an additional 90 days from the effective date of the law without modifying an existing collective bargaining agreement for the purposes of 2011 Act 10 (the collective bargaining bill).

“In light of this new information, my recommendation is for the Finance Committee and Council to consider laying off 17 employees, which is only three percent of our workforce, in order to balance our budget and not raise taxes on our citizens,” Scrima said in a Thursday email to the Common Council. “We could then take the next 90 days under this bill to seek an agreement on a compromise with employees and bargaining units, and if such a compromise is reached the 17 employees that were laid off could be hired back.”

Scrima said the new law could be the compromise the council has been looking for.

“Increasing taxes or permanently terminating employment can both be avoided thanks to this new legislation,” he said.

In order to maintain a flat tax levy in 2012, the city must cut $2.7 million for the budget – $1.2 million in equipment and services that has already been identified by the Finance Committee, and an additional $1.5 million that has yet to be determined. Laying off 17 employees would fill the $1.5 million gap and allow the city to not raise taxes.

However, this isn’t helpful:

“We have 15 dedicated aldermen that have had and continue to have the opportunity to bring solutions forward which do not raise taxes in these times,” Scrima said. “As elected officials we work for the taxpayers and all of our taxpayers have been hit some way or another with layoffs, reductions in pay and benefits, and losses in their retirement and property values. Now is the time for the Finance Committee and council to step forward and not raise taxes.”

After screwing up the budget by supporting the garbage fee, Scrima is trying to put all of the responsibility for fixing the budget on the Common Council. Scrima and acting City Administrator Steve Crandell have a role here in directly engaging the unions now to fix this budget mess. Wasn’t that the whole point of Scrima’s business school experience (the weekend seminar he attended)?

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