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This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2011: #5

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2011


Hey, Franklin property taxpayer. Did your property taxes go down?


What’s that? You’re stunned to say they did, even a bit? You say you’re happy with that?

What if I was to tell you that the city of Franklin budget that was adopted increased spending by 24% and could you imagine what your tax savings could have been if the city had acted in a fiscally responsible manner and held spending to say, the cost of inflation?

That’s the major problem with Franklin’s City Hall. They simply spend way, way, way too much. And if to dare question it, you are met with stunned disbelief as if you’re the total idiot.

“A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.”
A quote attributed to US Senator Everett Dirksen (R-Illinois) during the 1960’s.

An exchange that took place at the Franklin Common Council meeting on September 6 was anything but controversial. But it was quite revealing, demonstrating the mindset that permeates the vast majority of the Franklin Common Council and yes, I’ll toss in Mayor Tom Taylor.

They just can’t say no to any spending item.

At issue was this item on the agenda:

Resolution awarding contract to D.C. Burbach, Inc. in the amount of $11,981.70 for the installation of concrete sidewalk in easement from W. Forest Hill Avenue to a Franklin High School drive.

Translation: This was a request to pave a pathway from the property of a Franklin resident to Franklin school district property near the high school that is often used as a walkway by Franklin students.

Again, the price tag:  $11,981.

Here are some of the highlights I noted after listening to the audio of the meeting on the city of Franklin website.

Alderman Steve Olson set the tone:

“W
e’re being nice, folks, and we’re fixing a problem and it’s costing us more money because we’re fixing the problem.”

Mayor Tom Taylor interjected:

“The school district is willing to share 40% of the cost.”

Let’s stop right there.

The mayor’s comment is irrelevant and silly to say the least.

HELLO! It doesn’t matter if the Franklin school district is picking up 40% of the cost.

IT’S STILL MONEY CHARGED TO ALL FRANKLIN PROPERTY TAXPAYERS!

That was lost, not surprisingly, on the universally clueless Alderman Doug Schmidt:

“It seems like a pretty small expenditure.”

SEE ABOVE DIRKSEN QUOTE.

Of course, if there’s increased spending on the line, it wouldn’t be a Franklin Common Council meeting if we didn’t hear from goodie two shoes, if we can save just one life, Alderman Kristen Wilhelm who raised the issue of impact fees, a  strictly money-grubbing policy adopted by the city decades ago to rip off new property owners. Wilhelm’s subsequent comment is breathtaking in its sheer ultra-liberalism:

“You have to buy your way into Franklin…you can’t even get a walkway to your school?”

That’s right, Kristen. You’ll need to dry your tears but the overwhelming majority of taxpaying families
DO NOT have a tailor-made paved walkway to their children’s school. Wilhelm’s next remark was not a stunner:

“This is something we can afford to do.” (BTW, Alderman Wilhelm's voting and philosophy improved as the year went on).

Of course there’s a larger issue here. In order to discern it, you must possess the ability to comprehend beyond your nose and what’s directly in front of you. That would eliminate 5 of the 6 aldermen on the Franklin Common Council. Alderman Steve Olson, admitting he knew and liked the property owner involved provided this gem as opposed to the typical tunnel vision employed by the rest of his colleagues:

“What I’m trying to get people to understand is you budget for a purpose. And if every time somebody comes by with a project and we find a way to fund it, that means we’re not budgeting properly. You get projects all the time, we don’t need to make them more expensive. We like to spend money here.”

Obvious. Fiscally responsible. Sound, common sense. That means it went over the other heads in the room. Alderman Schmidt:

“The school district is prepared to share the cost.”

Time to rewind this blog by a few paragraphs.

HELLO! It doesn’t matter if the Franklin school district is picking up 40% of the cost.

IT’S STILL MONEY CHARGED TO  ALL  FRANKLIN PROPERTY TAXPAYERS!

Mayor Taylor then asked the city clerk to read the motion. Trouble is, no motion had been made. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Then came Alderman Steve Taylor who just couldn’t resist stepping in it. He began by stating what a great job the city had done budgeting in the past, a claim that is highly questionable. And then:

“Alderman Olson, I have no shock that there will be a no vote coming from you on this year’s budget. I’d put money on that because that’s always been the case. If this was $70,000 it’d be a whole different story.  I’ll put cash down on his vote.”

Interesting. A city budget hadn’t even been crafted yet, but Alderman Taylor assumes a NO vote from Alderman Olson. And one could assume from the rhetoric that Alderman Taylor, even without seeing a budget, is ready to vote YES and criticize anyone who would vote NO.

Hmmm. That sounds a lot like…





Back to the Franklin Common Council meeting.

God love Kristen Wilhelm, but if you listen to the tape, she suddenly is speaking 100 mph and can’t wait to have the roll call to spend some more money:

“Let’s just get on with this. I’d like to call the question.”

The measure passed unanimously. I question Alderman Olson’s YES vote that went against his arguments on the floor, but he knew the resident involved and said he was going to vote YES. But his comments should be adhered to. Unfortunately, knowing the "can’t wait to spend" mentality currently permeating City Hall, this fell on deaf ears:

“What I’m trying to get people to understand is you budget for a purpose. And if every time somebody comes by with a project and we find a way to fund it, that means we’re not budgeting properly. You get projects all the time, we don’t need to make them more expensive. We like to spend money here.”

They don't get it. They just don't get it.

Spend, spend, spend. That's why we live in a tax hell.


THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2011

1) ?


2) ?

3) ?

4) ?

5) FRANKLIN'S MOTTO: SPEND, SPEND, SPEND

6) CAN’T WE JUST ALL GET ALONG?

7) GOV. WALKER TURNS THE HEAT DOWN IN TAX HELL

8) APATHY AILS FRANKLIN

9) 
NO EXCUSE FOR THEIR BEHAVIOR

10) TORNADO WARNING SIRENS INSTALLED  IN FRANKLIN

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