From our readersIssue Date: March 8, 2017
The State Assembly Committee on Local Government will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, March 8 on a bill that would give local governments the option to stop publishing a summary of their actions in your newspaper. Assembly Bill 70 would allow local municipalities to post meeting minutes on their websites instead.
This is bad public policy under the guise of saving taxpayer dollars that would create considerable disruption for government transparency. Supports of Assembly Bill 70 suggest local government websites are sufficient to notify the public of their actions and that publishing meeting minutes in the newspaper limits access only to newspaper subscribers.
The fact is, however, that all legal notices published throughout the state since 2005 are already available for free to the public through WisconsinPublicNotices.org. This comprehensive, searchable website hosted by the Wisconsin newspaper industry brings together ink-on-paper notices into one online location. This service is provided at no cost to local municipalities.
The goal of WisconsinPublicNotices.org is to enhance government's distribution of public information and assist citizens who want to know more about the actions of their local, county and state representatives. This permanent, third-party documentation, unalterable and independent of government itself, ensures the protection of "your right to know" for each and every citizen.
For years, this relationship between newspapers, local municipalities and WisconsinPublicNotices.org has successfully provided easy access to government information for all citizens, whether they seek it in print or online. Removing existing publication requirements would create holes in this invaluable statewide database while also neglecting the needs of those who lack adequate computer and internet access.
Please tell your legislators to oppose this unnecessary barrier to government transparency.
Wisconsin Newspaper Association
Re: Wabeno School Voters
On April 4th, the voters of the Wabeno School District will have an opportunity to define our school based on how they vote for the referendum. I say define because the Governor has given local voters the responsibility to decide if our school will be funded or not. It's a great responsibility and an honor to have that power of the vote, and each person who can vote should understand that power.
I am writing to bring up a rarely talked about aspect of this school and the impact of the referendum: the Economic Impact of the school district on our small communities.
Any business (School) impacts the local economy in three ways:
*Direct Economic Impact is spending done by the school in the local economy to operate the school district. This includes items purchased such as supplies, equipment, and services.
*Indirect Economic Impact happens as dollars spent at other area businesses re-circulate. This means our tax dollars are being re-circulated locally.
*Induced Economic Impact refers to the additional consumer spending that happens as school employees, visitors to the school, and others associated with the school spend their income in the local economy.
The above categories of spending support businesses like restaurants, home sellers, insurance agents, gas stations, homebuilders, plumbers, electricians, hardware stores, convenience stores etc. Without this impact created by the re-circulation of tax dollars into our local community, those and other local businesses will suffer and maybe even disappear.
Many estimates put the economic impact of the school district as high as 65%; that would mean the School District of Wabeno may be putting as much as $5,000,000.00 back into the local areas of Lakewood, Wabeno, Freedom, Townsend, and other surrounding areas. Think about that. Think about the trickle down negative impact of this if we have to move on from this school. Your taxes for education will NOT go away, but we could lose an important contributor to and some control of our local economy.
Support The Local Economy.
Support the re-circulating of our taxes to local businesses and to the local economy.
I am asking the voters to vote YES to the referendum questions on April 4th.
Letter to Editor:
Where does financial accountability differ between the county and the city-township government?
This is an important question in light of the City of Marinette's request for 1.5 million dollars to build a recreation-convention complex. The city had budgeted 12 million dollars for the project. However, they have fallen short by $1.5 million dollars. They are now asking the County of Marinette to shore up that difference.
The argument the City makes is that it will increase financial activity in the area. They have not presented any evidence of this to the County Board nor have they illustrated to what extent the benefit would reach outside the Marinette-Peshtigo area. This also ignores the very significant financial demands that the County budget faces in road repair, personnel costs, building maintenance costs, and possible high financial costs that can not be predicted. The County of Marinette has been underfunded by the State for several years resulting in no extra funds.
The County does have an obligation to provide seniors and others "as good a quality of life as possible". Thus the reason the repair of the River City Pool in Marinette was approved by the Board of Supervisors. The same reasoning was used for the Niagara Senior Center with regard to the maintenance of county buildings. With both these issues, no other options were available to help keep seniors our of nursing homes. This project, at least with respect to the scope of the project, does not involve critical health related services or county property.
The City needs to revise the project or the funding strategy.
Alfred J. Sauld,
District 2 County Supervisor
Letter to Editor:
Does "who cares what you think" express our country's value or a way forward?
I ask this because it has become more and more common in our country's political dialogue on a national and local level to respond to people or groups with different ideas, beliefs, or cultural and political beliefs by treating these things with the response "who cares" or labeling them as "the enemy". The idea seems to me is to make anybody that disagrees or is different in a way you are not comfortable with valueless, worthless, irrelevant, or invisible.
Does one ideology have all the answers (Republican doctrine is a broad ideology)? The obvious answer is "no". Allowing a broad range of differing ideas and perspectives is critical to a solid solution, and progress. The condition for ideas is that the ideas must have a basis in fact and respect all people and parties that are trying to put forth positive suggestions. I do not believe we along with other counties want to repeat our history of scapegoating and the decision to ignore factual reality such as happened during slavery, the Japanese internment in this country, Nazi Germany, and most recently gay, Mexican, and Muslim bashing.
The expression "who cares" seems to me to be an expression of ignorance but also a road to corruption, anger, stagnation, and violence shown in the past pedophilia in the priesthood, deaths and extreme violence toward the Civil Rights movement, and violence and deprivation toward gay Americans.
Let us care.
I would like to respond to a letter by Peter Pfankuch criticizing the Marinette County Board for discussing the possibility of contributing to the construction of a new Community Sports and Event Center in the City of Marinette. Surely he's aware that city residents are also county residents and taxpayers. In fact, 26% of Marinette County's residents live in the City of Marinette. And when we add in the populations of the City of Peshtigo, Town of Peshtigo, and the Town of Porterfield, we've got 49% of our county's total population located reasonably close to the new proposed facility.
Let's talk about property taxes, specifically how the city's taxpayers contribute to the well being of all county residents. City of Marinette property taxpayers represent 18% of the county's property tax base. This 18% of the county's tax levy helps pay for sheriff's deputies assigned to protect Mr. Pfankuch's life and property but does not help fund police officers assigned to protect city residents. If a fire should occur at the County Courthouse or Jail, the full-time city fire department will respond, courtesy of city taxpayers. Cit taxpayers fund 18% of the cost to maintain the county roads that Mr. Pfankuch uses, yet the city received no county help to maintain its streets. The list goes on and on.
Now let's talk about the county sales tax that has been funding a variety of county capital improvements, like the County Garage in Crivitz. Where does that money come from? Half of it comes from retail businesses located in the City of Marinette, like Walmart, Menards, Shopko, Kohl's, and a host of other establishments. Because the city is prohibited by state law from having its own sales tax, only the county government benefits from this revenue source.
I am a city resident whose property tax bill includes 20% for county government services. I understand that many things supported by my 20% do not seem to benefit me personally. But I also recognize that those things that enhance the quality of life in Marinette County - like opportunities for recreation and economic development, like excellent facilities and public services - benefit us all, at least indirectly. And we all benefit by having a strong city and county government relationship that mutually supports each other and recognizes that as one succeeds, so does the other.
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