Friday, September 08, 2006

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze

According to a story in the online version of the Oshkosh Northwestern this afternoon, Oshkosh Mayor William Castle plans to ask his fellow city council members next week to put a referendum on the November ballot asking the voters for approval to exceed the state imposed levy freeze to help pay for city services – including garbage and recyclables pick-up costs if the controversial garbage fee is not allowed into next year's budget and goes back onto residents’ tax bills.

His reasoning is because something has to be done to come up with money or face severe cuts and he hears people saying they'd rather have their taxes increased than pay increased or new fees.

While some may be saying that - and I have been one if it is a very last resort kind of thing, because at least on the tax bill it's tax-deductible - this seems like Castle's way of putting the cart before the horse. Contract negotiations are still ongoing, no budgets have been presented to the council yet and, as a result of that, the council has not even looked at what other cuts might be possible in order to save money in the face of the levy freeze handed down from Madison.

Is this Castle's way of being proactive, knowing the budget will need to be passed later this year and not wanting the city to get caught short-handed with no means of getting a similar referendum on the ballot until spring? Or is this his way of helping the city administration once again take the easy way out instead of looking at every single thing and making cuts in areas other than automatically going to police and fire? And if the council approves such a referendum being placed on the ballot, how hard will these councilors really look at making other cuts, knowing they have a fall-back position? And, in the event they do make cuts and don't need a referendum, will they then not put it on the ballot or will they do so anyway?

I guess we'll see exactly what Castle's thought process is come next Wednesday when the council meets on a different day than normal because of the primary election on Tuesday. I just think it is asinine to consider such a proposal now and Castle's suggestion only solidifies what far too many citizens have been saying: that they are fed up and there's no leadership or acccountability coming from 215 Church Avenue.

- Cheryl


[following are comments made in response to the origianl post on the earlier site]

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 08 2006 @ 07:21 PM MDT
His Majesty Sir William Castle has placed a decree to the entire kingdom, far and wide. His lowly serf has provided a parchment of the decree to the local town crier, Lord 1490 on-the-AM. Lord 1490 has rang the bell and gave notice…
His Majesty has pondered the imponderable until a wonderful solution came to him as he quaffed a vessel of malted beverage. In a glorious thunderstruck moment, Sir William came upon a solution to the refuse uproar brought about by the lowly peasants of Oshburgland.The answer he was searching for was found at the bottom of a vessel of malted beverage, and gave him pause to decree a mighty decree.
Lord 1490’s parchment told the tale of a pompous oaf who would suggest that the poor peasants are taxed yet another tax...yes an unheard of fee required of each dwelling for the tenants meager refuse removal.
Upon the hearing of this unholy taxation, the peasants gathered in uproar and demanded a recount by placing there blood-mark on circulated petitions.Sir William and the Pompous Oaf conferred a great conferral, and as a result of consuming great quantities of malted beverage, came upon a solution.Lord 1490 continued that Sir Castle will bring about a secondary declaration which will allow the lords and ladies of Oshburgland to cast their ballot and administer an electorial decree to allow additional taxation on all the land. This action will result in great sorrow to the lowly peasants.
All is not pleasant in Oshburgland, soon the fairies may inherit the entire village if peace is not restored!
And so was the news of the day.

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: DBCooper on Friday, September 08 2006 @ 07:47 PM MDT
"he hears people saying they'd rather have their taxes increased than pay increased or new fees"I've heard a tremendous amount of talk IRL and on-line about the garbage fee, the rumored fire pit fee, etc.Not once have I heard anybody say they want their taxes increased. Abolish fees, yes. Cut services, yes. Layoff employees and/or cut pay and benefits, yes. Raise taxes? Never.This seems like a perfect on-line poll. A referendum on the referendum so to speak.

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 08 2006 @ 08:27 PM MDT
Mr. Cooper.You are exactly correct!LAY-OFF CITY EMPLOYEES - YES(Start with those that have the least impact on public safety)CUT SERVICES - YES(Lets not allow our city administrators to add "Valve Twister" positions on the Water Department. We don't need that!)ADDITIONAL TAXES OR FEES - NO

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 08 2006 @ 08:39 PM MDT
Hey...08:27 PM MDT You missed the most imprtant suggestion that Cooper made: CUT WAGES AND BENEFITS TO CITY WORKERS!!!!Who the heck ever in the city is doing the negotiations with the unions better get some balls this year and make sure were not taken for a ride with big benefit and wage increases. If that happens Im betting Dick and his whole crew are gonna be looking for new jobs at WalMart cuz we're not gonna stand for those gold plated city workers benefits anymore!!!!!

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 09:32 AM MDT
Maddox has got to go. She ads nothing to rational debate on the council. She can accomplish "Ms. Shirleys Review Of Artsy Fartsy Festivals" on a OCAT program if she wishes.Time has come for strong leaders on this Council. People that will stand-up and CHALLENGE City Administration.Currently, it appears to me that we have nothing but a COUNCIL OF COWARDS. A total vacuum..void of any leadership.Here's my challenge...prove me wrong, PLEASE! Tower, Bain, Scheuermann, Esslinger, McHugh its time to STEP UP and DO YOUR JOBS!Put Castle in his place.Don't accept the easy way out and just pass the problem to the taxpayers with higher property taxes.Get off your asses and DEMAND that the City Manager and his Supervisors give you options...options to reduce and eliminate positions and services within the City Government. These options may include reductions in Public Safety, but should NOT BE LIMITED to JUST public safety cuts.I refuse to believe public safety is the only bloated area within Oshkosh Government...and I'm lead to that conclusion as I saw Dick Wollangk support the proposal of VALVE TURNER positions for the Water Department.HOW IN GODS NAME CAN HE SUPPORT VALVE TURNERS, YET WANT REDUCTIONS IN POLICE AND FIRE!!!!This is total insanity!!

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: alibi2day on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 04:55 PM MDT
I am willing to bet after discussion and hemming and hahahaing and further review and not having all the facts. ETC The referendum passes 4 to 2. Maybe 2 referendum questions are needed to get people off their butts and to the polls. If you are not willing to excercise your right to vote you lose your right to whine and complain. Get ready to cast your vote.

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 08:23 PM MDT
Cost saving Ideas:
1) Consolidate or outsource city vehicle maintenance:OPD is already outsourcing maintenance of there squad cars. Why do we have duplicate vehicle maintenance staffs in the city garage, city forestry, fire department, transit department? They areas are ripe for outsourcing or consolidation.
2) Downsize the size of our city bus fleet:We have many very large sized busses. I assume these are mostly purchased for the once a year EAA convention. Most of even our small busses are never even close to full, so why do we have these huge size busses running around town, burning costly fuel, an almost completely void of passengers?
3) Outfit the garbage trucks with snow plow rigs:Most large cities use their garbage trucks for plowing duty. In Oshkosh we buy additional tandem axle dump trucks for this purpose. Drive by the City garage and see how many are parked in the lot not being used. We certainly could reduce our fleet of large tandem axle trucks if we put our garbage truck fleet into service helping to plow snow. The garbage men seem to work odd half day schedules anyhow. This would allow them to work more hours during snow falls in the winter.
4) Let’s look at outsourcing our entire City Forestry Department.This Department even has its own building. They are housed in a fairly large building on Witzel Street. I see lots of fairly expensive trucks, choppers, bucket trucks, skid loaders etc etc in this building when I pass by. What do these guys do in the winter? I’m thinking maybe a National concern like Aspundh would be able to provide a competitive bid: From the Aspundh web page: Aspundh Municipal Tree Services The removal of dead or dangerous trees along public thorofares is a priority for every community. Eliminating deadwood, keeping municipal utility lines clear of branches, and correctly pruning young trees is equally important in minimizing liability and maintaining a healthy, attractive urban forest.In order to achieve these goals, it takes knowledgeable tree care professionals with the necessary experience to complete the job safely and efficiently. Since time, labor, and equipment are costly, thorough training and competent supervision are musts. If an untrained crew causes a power outage, or damage to a person and property, your municipality may be liable.One call to the Asplundh Municipal Division can eliminate the costs and problems associated with purchasing and maintaining specialized equipment, providing technical and safety training for crew personnel. This can help minimize your liability for work-related injury or property damage. In addition, we can assist municipal foresters in:- developing tree maintenance programs and writing contract specifications- presenting workshops for both Asplundh and municipal crews on various industry-related topics- providing public relations support on tree related issues- acting as a resource of information on professional standards and industry trendsAs part of the world’s largest vegetation control company, we draw on more than a century of experience in urban tree maintenance.By using local workers under the direction of our experienced supervisors, and drawing on our extensive fleet of specialized equipment, it is our goal to provide public agencies with the most reliable, efficient, and professional service at the lowest price possible.For more information, please call 1-425-318-4177, extension 4384, or e-mail:
5) The Oshkosh Lakeshore Municipal Golf Course was totally renovated in 2001. It may be time to investigate if maintaining this course is in the best interest of all taxpayers.Few municipalities maintain a city owned and operated golf course. Oshkosh and the surrounding area has many golfing opportunities that our municipal course competes with.The land alone could be sold for an extremely high value as it is waterfront property.Divesting our city of the golf course would not only reduce staff, on-going maintenance, but also provide a good source of revenew by the sale of the property.
6) The most drastic savings will be achieved when a complete 3rd party audit is conducted of each city position and department. Undoubtedly, we have a huge corporation called City of Oshkosh government. The bureaucracy, duplication of services, conducting non-core competency services of such a large corporation is almost a given.

These are the areas that need to be weeded out. When we take the time and effort to face the reality that we need to restructure our city staff and become far leaner in our hiring practices, we will then be truly serving the taxpayer.When posed with good cost savings ideas don't say "It can't be done"..Instead, figure a way to make it happen.

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 08:31 PM MDT
These are excellent ideas. Too bad our city leaders refuse to look at them.

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 09:46 AM MDT
Castle should be re-calledwe need leaders not girliemen

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: admin on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 02:07 PM MDT
Good idea. I will put such a poll together. Thanks for the suggestion.

Castle to propose a referendum to exceed the levy freeze
Authored by: lakefly on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 04:21 PM MDT
Is this man totally off his rocker? The city council and city manager are all lazy and they don't want to make the cuts they should. Got to not only protect the department heads, but create work to keep them gainfully employed. So they resort to using scare tactics of higher taxes or emergency services being cut to bully us. Hey mayor Castle, treat the city as you do your own workers. Oops that's right, no unions would be allowed then.


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