Janesville25.4°

City staff weigh Budget Scorecard

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
September 29, 2011
— The Janesville Ice Skating Center would close for three months of the year.

The city would mow parks once every two weeks, and hours would be reduced at the senior center, the library and pools.


Police and fire services would remain the same.


That's how the 784 people who responded to Janesville's "Budget Scorecard" online would adjust the city's finances.


The city council will consider the results as it looks to close an estimated $1.5 million gap in the 2012 budget, said Jay Winzenz, assistant city manager.


The survey posed possible ways to reduce spending or increase revenues. It asked people to find $500,000 in service reductions, fees and tax increases.


Fee and tax increases supported by the majority include:


-- A $5 wheel tax to pay for street maintenance.


-- A charge to downtown businesses to cart away accumulated snow.


-- Alcohol sales at the senior center and Dawson Park to encourage facility rentals and raise revenue.


The majority of respondents rejected changes in police and fire service. They also didn't want to pay fees when personnel respond to emergencies, such as vehicle crashes and fires.


Residents favored a $5 wheel tax to raise $275,000 and reduce the $300,000 levied in property taxes each year for street maintenance. Over the last several years, the city has shifted the majority of that cost to borrowing.


The majority supported $251,596 in service reductions and $293,050 in additional fees and taxes, totaling well over the $500,000 requested.


The survey encouraged comments.


Some respondents were surprised to learn that the city maintains downtown parking lots for downtown businesses when businesses elsewhere must provide and maintain their own, Winzenz said.


One asked which council members were getting kickbacks from sidewalk contractors, referring to a council push to complete the sidewalk plan. Another suggested that the entire city staff be fired and replaced by temporary workers without benefits.


Another said the city should use less salt, while another urged the city to maintain amenities to attract people.


The 2012 budget will be distributed to the council Monday, Oct. 10.


BUDGET SCORECARD RESULTS

A scorecard on the city's website asked residents for guidance on where the city could make cuts and where it should consider raising revenue with taxes or fees. The scorecard was completed by 784 people.


Service reductions


-- Ice center: 62 percent of respondents would close the rink for three months to save $9,000, and 38 percent would keep hours the same.


-- Mowing: 83 percent of respondents would decrease mowing to once every two weeks for a savings of $79,534.


-- Library: 72 percent of respondents would close the Hedberg Public Library five hours to save $53,750. The council voted to save money in 2011 by closing the library Friday nights.


-- Police: 70 percent of respondents would retain the current police force.


-- Bus service: 52 percent of respondents would cut bus service four hours a week to save $17,450.


-- Fire personnel and equipment: 71 percent of respondents voted for no change.


-- Snow removal: 57 percent of respondents would plow after 3 inches is on the ground. The current range is 2 to 3 inches. That cuts about one plowing a year to save $75,000.


-- Senior center: 58 percent of respondents would cut center hours by 2.5 hours a week to save $9,812, while 43 percent would keep hours the same.


-- Water facilities: 57 percent of respondents would cut hours at Rockport Pool and the wading pools by one a day to save $7,050.


Taxes and fees


-- Parking fee: 52 percent of respondents would keep the upkeep of downtown parking on property taxes rather than levy a fee on downtown businesses.


-- Alcohol sales: 64 percent of respondents would allow alcohol sales at Dawson Field and the senior center to increase rental opportunities to raise $5,000.


-- Snow removal fee: 60 percent of respondents would charge downtown businesses a fee to haul away accumulated snow from the downtown streets for revenue of $13,050.


-- Wheel tax for street maintenance: 57 percent of respondents would charge $5 per vehicle for street maintenance, reducing property taxes by $275,000.


-- Wheel tax to reduce borrowing for street maintenance: 54 percent of respondents would not levy a wheel tax to reduce borrowing for street maintenance.


-- Fee for emergency services: 63 percent of respondents said the


city should not charge a fee for emergency response to vehicle accidents and fires.



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