The game plan was supposed to be so simple, just the way Franklin City Hall drew it up on the blackboard.
Due to extremely poor planning, the city found itself in an emergency services pickle. Franklin claimed it was lacking the police, fire, and EMT personnel it needs.
What was the solution? The same remedy the city always resorts to.
Not only raise taxes, but get the voting public to administer the self-inflicting wound.
We’re such an awesome community and so many people want to live here that we’re growing by leaps and bounds. To handle our booming popularity and the need for services we’ll ask people in a survey if they want to spend more money for police, fire, et al. in a referendum.
When they hear what we have to say it’ll be tough to turn us down.
We’ll spend money we say we don’t have on a survey (who cares!) and a majority will side with us, and then it’s write the referendum question, count the votes in November, and do what we do best: tax, tax and tax some more!
Funny thing happened on the way to the latest tax hike. The majority didn’t drink the City Hall Kool-Aid.
Results of the survey were announced at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Franklin Common Council.
Representatives of the firm that conducted the survey said they sent questionnaires to every household in the city. That is false by the way.
More than 14,000 households were sent surveys, and only 3,296 responded.
One of the reps called the 23% response rate “absolutely excellent.”
Of course she’d say that!
I call the response pretty bad.
SURVEY QUESTION RESPONSES
What about options to increase the number of firefighters by nine?
On maintaining the status quo on funding, 36% said YES, 49% said NO, and 15% were undecided.
On cutting other services to fund the additional firefighters, 49% said NO, 36% said YES, and 15% were undecided.
On increasing taxes to fund the additional firefighters, 46% said YES, 42% said NO, and 12% were undecided.
What about options to increase the number of police officers by three?
63% said explore options to increase, 25% said maintain the status quo, 6% were undecided, and 5% filled in the blank with other ideas.
On cutting other services to fund the additional police, 54% said NO, 31% said YES, and 15% were undecided.
On increasing taxes to fund the additional police, 49% said YES, 41% said NO, and 10% were undecided.
On the critical questions to increase taxes, the ones the folks had their hearts set on socking it to taxpayers, none got 50%.
Suddenly clouds moved in over the tax increase parade.
City Director of Administration Mark Luberda suggested the aldermen needed to go into their districts and sell the idea of a referendum. This is political advice this bureaucrat has no business giving.
Franklin Common Council President, Alderman Mark Dandrea also said the Council needed to engage in outreach, holding meetings to “educate” the public.
Love that kind of talk. We need to “educate” the public. As if we’re just too plain stupid to realize or know what’s going on to make up our own minds.
To his credit, Alderman Steve Taylor wasn’t buying it.
“No way!” Taylor scoffed immediately at the thought.
“I’ve had town hall meetings in all the communities I represented on the (Milwaukee) County Board, 54-thousand people, advertising it, and handful shows up. There ain’t no way I’m going to schedule town hall districts. We’re going to have mailers, pay for those kinds of things. Forget that!”
Taylor said the information in the survey wasn’t sufficient, that the entire survey wasn’t rolled out very well.
He raised an insightful point, that the survey didn’t include details about response time. In other words, aldermen had no idea if a purported lack of services put people’s health, even lives in danger.
Taylor said there was nothing positive about the survey.
The mood of the meeting was clear. The sad reality of the results hit, and the soufflé sunk. Speculation about a potential referendum was anything but optimistic.
“It could go either way. It’s a toss-up,” said Dandrea.
Luberda conceded he didn’t care for the 50-50 odds.
“I prefer to play games I expect to win,” he said.
Granted, Luberda was trying to be cute in offering his view on a referendum’s chances.
EARTH TO LUBERDA:
This is not a game, especially when tax dollars are at stake. You are not an elected official. A referendum has not been officially scheduled. Therefore, kindly keep your political views to yourself.
The aldermen had zero details about what any future referendum would look like. But that didn’t stop Dandrea, Alderman Dan Mayer, and Alderman Mike Barber from wondering out loud what it would take to get a referendum on the ballot someday.
Tough decisions are beyond this Council. One year it took them two meetings just to decide when to hold Trick or Treat.
The aldermen will take the matter up again at their meeting on August 21. And from the discussion Tuesday night, it’s possible a referendum might not happen until 2019.
The cost of a referendum would be about $2,000. A referendum held on a special election on a date other than a regularly scheduled election would cost more.