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Was council wise to reject referendums?

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Greg Peck
January 15, 2013

We sense that most city of Janesville residents feel the same way Councilwoman Deb Dongarra-Adams does. “I can’t afford to pay any more taxes,” she said Monday in all but wrapping up a long debate. The council then voted, 4-3, to reject April referendum ideas.

The referendums would have sought $1.5 million annually for the next three years to fix streets and $1 million annually for three years to maintain public safety. The ideas came from Councilmen Jim Farrell and Sam Liebert. They saw that city spending and revenues don’t jibe, what with state-imposed property tax levies, reduced revenues because of the recession and declining state shared revenues.

Those realities are forcing the city to borrow money just to fix between four and six miles of streets each year, when to keep up with needed repairs would mean redoing 14 miles annually.

Farrell and Liebert, however, could only get Councilman Russ Steeber to agree with them. Kathy Voskuil, Matt Kealy and DuWayne Severson joined Dongarra-Adams in voting “no.”

Do you agree with this decision? What, absent referendums to spend more money, can be done to better balance the city’s books?

We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Wednesday.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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