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 baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
Jo Egelhoff of FoxPolitics.net blogs about a legislative proposal to raid, AGAIN, the state's Transportation Fund to help local governments cope with winter. Egelhoff nails it in a great commentary.
Another state subsidy - from the Transportation Fund?!!
Representative Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) introduced legislation last week that would create a “Snowy Day Fund” to distribute grants to communities hard hit by winter (horrors!) weather.
Representative Hebl states in his press release “Winter weather has put many municipal budgets on thin ice this year, and what the Snowy Day fund does is provide some relief for the areas that have been hardest hit.”
Municipalities where (per the draft legislation)
…snow and ice precipitation and the number of snow or ice events in a DOT transportation region are greater than the region’s… [averages] over the immediately preceding five-year period (whew)…
would quality for a grant not to exceed $50,000.
I absolutely don’t buy it. This is Wisconsin. And yes, the harshness of winters varies. But so do many other expenses that cities, villages, towns and counties are responsible for. And it’s the job of financial folks and elected officials to properly budget to carry out those responsibilities. Through their own “Snowy Day Funds.” Through contingency funds that every municipality should include as part of responsible budgeting. Through their own borrowing if they really get in a bind.
But not via a bailout from the state.
And how about this? These “Snowy Day Fund” grants would be paid for from $500,000 in existing fund balance in the Transportation Fund. What??? The Fund that’s been raided over and over again in past budgets? The Fund that’s borrowing more money than ever to build critical road projects in Wisconsin?
The period of time that would be reviewed for special winter maintenance is specified as December 1 through March 31. That’s important in that municipalities budget on a calendar year – and that allows them to work/adjust from essentially two budget cycles in any given winter.
You better believe Appleton’s finance guru in the Public Works Department, Ray Kilanowski, has an up-to-the-minute handle on “Snow and Ice Control” expenditures. The year-end weather wasn’t easy on the 2007 budget, but expenses of $964,700 for the year still came in under a budget of $1,035,662.
Given our January weather so far, the 2008 budget may be a bit hairier, but as Carl Schulz, Appleton’s Street Foreman says, who knows what next November and December will bring? So far, he’s not concerned – though that doesn’t mean he won’t get concerned if his snow crews continue to be needed. Appleton’s 2008 Snow and Ice budget is $935,810, and per Kilanowski’s reporting, dollars spent to date total $207,252 (the labor portion is only through 1/19). That’s 22% of the budget, and we’re only partially through January. Eeek.
Be assured, Appleton won’t be calling the state for a bailout. All good intentions aside, this legislation should be dead on arrival.
-Jo Egelhoff, FoxPolitics.net.