Two of the state's newest mayors have big concerns over cuts in shared revenue. Racine Mayor John Dickert, sworn in just this week, has a lot on his plate, including an assessment of just what cuts in shared revenue may mean to his city, already dealing with one of the highest unplumbed rates in the state, increasing crime and deteriorating neighborhoods. "We have to look at the quarterly reports to find out first of all how bad it's going to be, what the impact is," says Dickert. "We need to know what those dollar figures mean, and also what our options are."
It was just a week ago that Governor Jim Doyle announced that cuts of up to five percent in shared revenue to cities will be needed, in order to close the state's budget deficit. Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nichols, who took office in April, says legislators had better take a hard look at that. "If they seriously want to cut police and fire, then they can go ahead with this," says Nichols. "They need to seriously look at the mandates they put on us – the unfunded mandates – as well as these cuts in shared revenues. Smaller communities can's survive in these tough times."
"Cites have been cutting and cutting and cutting for a long time," says Racine's Dickert says. "If you continue to cut on the shared revenue side, then we have nowhere to go. One thing I want to try to prevent in Racine is laying anyone off, because with unemployment at sixteen and a half percent, that's the one thing I don't need or want to do."
"Police and fire are the basic necessities of a community, so of course I wouldn't look at drastically cutting those," says Nichols. "But, if five percent is the floor (for potential shared revenue cuts) that amount will have an impact on our budget."