Local officials are responding to an historic shared revenue plan from Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly. “Just to put into perspective, we’ve lost almost 38% of our state shared funding over the last 23 years,” said Beaver Dam Mayor Becky Glewen during a press conference at the Capitol on Thursday. “I have been with the city for 10 years and we’ve been through some difficult budgets,” said Watertown Mayor Emily McFarland. “And one that I will never forget as the year that we’ve considered shutting off every other streetlight in the city of Watertown to save $250,000.”
Details are still being finalized but every community would see at least a 10% increase in state aid. Going forward 20% of all state sales tax revenue would go to local governments.
Jerry Dor is Chairman of the Dane County Town of Bristol, with about 4400 residents. “We spend more now on emergency services than we do on fixing our roads. And of course what’s the priority? Emergency services is always a priority – that’s got to be. So if you drive through a few potholes that’s one thing but if you can’t respond with ambulance and fire service that’s a whole different ball game.”
The shared revenue plan will include some restrictions on how local governments can spend the money. “I think that that’s not the way I would characterize it,” said Representative Mark Born of Beaver Dam. “I think that there are times where local control is absolutely the best as a former local official, and there’s times where statewide standards are needed. And that’s always the balance that we’re looking at here in the state of Wisconsin.”