Tough economy hits city council members
WCLO's Beth Wheelock reports on unemployment, underemployment and reductions in pension annuities for the council members.
It's no secret the Janesville area has the highest unemployment rate in the state.
In January, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development announced the Janesville Metropolitan Statistical Area's unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in December 2008. Local officials are some of the workers hit hard by the economic downturn.
City Councilman Yuri Rashkin works as a professional musician and is a graduate student. He says the council members take their experiences into account for decisions they make on the council, but also do what's best for Janesville. George Brunner, councilman and former Janesville Police Chief, says he does not think his own personal economic situation affects decisions he makes on the city council. Brunner has been notified of a reduction in his pension annuities.
Councilman Bill Truman has been laid off from LSI since December. He says he's a strong believer there should be sidewalks throughout the city, but with the state of the economy he doesn't know if he could ask people to pay $2,800 for a new sidewalk.
Councilman Russ Steeber says he expects each spending decision to come under closer scrutiny by the council. A year ago, he says, no project was out of bounds but now the council is being more conservative. Steeber says this can also be seen during campaigns for the spring election.
Scroll down for an audio report.