Citizen Input Encouraged as City Budget Discussion Progresses
There is still time to get involved in the City budget process! The City of Marshfield Common Council has held one budget hearing with staff and could potentially approve the preliminary budget after the next discussion that will take place tonight, Tuesday, October 24. (Watch here on MCTV!)
“The next meeting is Tuesday and Council will basically be able to ask any questions, move around any money… there’s still time to make changes,” said City Administrator Steve Barg. There is expected to be one or two more budget hearings, pending discussion.
Though the budget is pretty tight as-is (read more HERE), Barg highlighted three major items in this year’s budget that are expected to be discussed:
In their 2018 budget, Marshfield Police Department requested the purchase of police radios at a cost of $180,000. Barg has proposed funding these radios over the course of three years, at an annual cost of $60,000.
“Each year we don’t have a lot of room to work. This year, even with a 1.9% increase, $180,000 from one request is just very difficult to make work.”
Barg noted that there is the option of borrowing for the radios as a capital purchase, if the Council wanted to fund the entire purchase in the next budget. A capital purchase is typically not used in this situation, being utilized traditionally for longer-term projects such as road work. However, as the radios are projected to last at least ten years, they would technically qualify for this financing.
Aside from debt financing, finding additional monies is the other option for the City. This could include delaying the purchase of one police vehicle and garage expansion project. Alderman Nick Poeschel, a former police officer, is expected to present a way to finance using this method.
However the project is funded, Barg emphasizes the importance of finding a solution for this issue.
“We are concerned with public safety. When you hear an officer in Menard’s can’t get a call out, we can’t have that,” said Barg. “We are trying to come up with creative solutions.”
The City of Marshfield contracts with Wood County for the provision of drug court case management services performed in Marshfield. These services include on-site collection of urine samples for drug tests conducted on a monthly basis, one-on-one case management sessions with clients (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly), attending Drug Court hearings, and other related duties. These services are provided by ATTIC Correctional Services, Inc. under a separate agreement with Wood County.
Drug Court has been financed for one year, out of contingency.
“We knew that for the second year, it would need to be in the budget,” said Barg.
The Drug Court is a county service, which the City contributed to last year at a cost of $22,000. While there is no question to the program’s importance, there is a question of why the City is responsible for financing it.
“The weird thing about our county is we are 35 miles from the county seat. The whole issue for us is we pay $22,000 and Wisconsin Rapids gets it at no cost because they are the county seat. We would like to see Wood County assume some or all of the cost to extend this service to Marshfield area residents,” said Barg. “It’s valuable. But, there are only 14 people regularly in the program right now locally. It’s a county service. We’ll pay something, but why isn’t the county absorbing some of this expense?”
Barg added that few other counties are asked to maintain two sets of services, and residents in Marshfield pay County taxes, yet don’t have the convenience of easily accessible County services.
“I think you’re going to see that it’s not fair to pay that, without seeing other monies come into the pictures,” said Barg, adding that the Council appreciates any public input about the issue. “If people want to weigh in on it, they can.”
CAPITAL FUND PROJECTS
Capital Project Funds are intended for financial resources to be used for the acquisition or construction of major capital facilities other than those financed with proprietary funds and trust funds.
The Infrastructure Construction Fund (#401) includes appropriations for certain recommended 2017. (Full list here.)
- Biggest spending is overlay work. “This basically buys you another 15 years,” said Barg. (Read more on street work HERE)
- East 29th is the BIG DEAL this budget year. “People have been waiting for that a long time,” said Barg. The road will be reconstructed from Washington Avenue to Veterans Parkway, with help from State aid (hence the wait).
- Helping with a developer’s housing complex: North Hume Ave (North of Becker Road) 756,113 North Hume Ave (350’ North of McMillan Street) 284,267. This is a result of the
- Housing Study conducted in 2014 (Click HERE for Housing Study Report). “We are looking at doing an updated housing study,” said Barg. “When is enough new housing enough?”
As always, Barg encourages citizens with ideas to reach out to their Council representative (Contact information HERE), Mayor Chris Meyer, or Barg himself with any concerns or ideas.
“People feel powerless, but that is absolutely not the case,” said Barg, adding that there aren’t many people that call and e-mail. “Every e-mail is forwarded to Council. Every comment is heard.”