Thursday, November 20, 2014

City Budgets - a Convoluted Mess

I was looking at the history of the Boymatic (don't ask) and found my name is linked to it's history. 

In 1888 Jules Melotte, son of company founder, invents the Melotte Cream Separator, securing the company's future in the dairy industry.

In 1927 George H. Gascoigne founds Gascoigne in Reading, England, rapidly building a reputation for down-to-earth, quality milking equipment.

In 1974 Gascoigne and Melotte merge to form Gascoigne-Melotte, a leader in milking machine design and development.

I'm waiting for my checks to start rolling in.  



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I'm pretty sure this is a Two Footed Winger Gray Wolf in my backyard. 



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*** NEW CITY OF COLUMBUS - 2015 WINTER PARKING RULES & REGULATIONS
- Parking is permitted on all city streets (unless marked or signed otherwise) at any time.
- Parking is NOT permitted on any city street once 2" of snow has fallen and through 12 hours after the end of the snowfall.
- Vehicles left on the street during this time will be ticket and/or towed.

Tow truck companies are lining up to open new business - it's all about jobs right?
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So the budget was passed last night but no one really knows WHAT passed . . well we do but the public doesn't.  I thought there would be a presentation or something but the whole town is sick so maybe that was a drawback.

As we all know there were massive cuts mostly because of the Gateway project but that was something we have no control of.  I think the biggest bone of contention is that we get $269,626 from the DOT for roads but that does not actually get spent on roads.  Just puttin it out there. Total revenue dropped $225,029 but it's hard to tell from year to year because some funds were moved to different parts of the budget.  No real big item is to blame . . . maybe the lack of dog licenses is what brought us down.  

The good news is that y'all will have a pretty good size reduction in your property taxes because Walker is buying some votes in a tricky way. Give money to the people instead of the cities - cities can't vote but people can.  If we don't give money to the people the city's get penalized.

The average home in Columbus is about $150,000 and that will be ABOUT $258 in property tax reduction.

A lot of people seem to think all the cuts were for roads.  NOPE - almost the same on roads and if you want better roads we will have to use our credit card.  You know those big checks you see people getting in the paper?  You should see the BIG credit card Patrick has to carry around.  Windy days are a bitch.

They did toss us a small bone to keep us a happy cheery lot with a little more in road maintenance but will it make a huge difference.  In the long run yes if we can keep it at this level.

So here are the cuts in no particular order.  Don't shoot the messenger.

Admin-Contingency fund - ($15,000) - this is our emergency fund. The Mayor has proclaimed 2015 as a No Emergency Year (NEY)

Admin-Codification - ($8,600).  I don't even know what that is.

Admin - Memberships ($820). No more late night flights to spas of Prague I guess.

Admin - Election ($2,000) - We are doing away with elections and just appointing people now!
KIDDING!!!   less elections

Various boring Admin stuff ($3,500)
Admin Payment to Enerpac ($19,500) - not touching the subject shhhhh (pretend it's not even there)
Emergency Management Repair & Maintenance ($1000)
EMS ($500)
Parks Building Repair/Tree Trimming  ($1500)
Athletic Fields Maintenance ($250)

Public Works ($41,700)  the big thing here is the Urban Forestry Grant we are losing for a GIS system that we voted on. it would have been sweet!!!

Police Department - Body cameras ($4500) - Well, we never really approved of these so do they count? . . . I guess we are saving money.

Oh - I see I'm(*) on the Police Department page,  Have to use both hands.

* why is "I'm" capitalized, why not "i'm". What is the reasoning.

We are losing one FTE officer
Other Police Department cuts ($75,200).  A moment please.

The Columbus Police Department in 2014 was operating with 2.2 officers per 1000 residents. According to the Waunakee budget here are some other towns surrounding Madison

Monona 2.5
Deforest 1.9
Fitchburg 1.8
McFarland 1.8
Middleton 2.0
Oregon 1.8
Stoughton 1.5
Sun Prairie 1.8
Verona 1.8
Waunakee 1.5
Oconomoc 1.9
Baraboo 1.9
Mount Horeb 1.8
Columbus was 2.2, now 2.0

In 2013 Aaron Adams said we were operating with 1.92 officers per 1000 and I did not see chaos in the street.  I believe our Chief is good enough keep the force running efficiently at 2.0.

and repeat after me - there have been no actual talks about contracting out our police department. The ONLY reason this whole subject came up was because when looking at the budget - WE COULDN'T AFFORD A POLICE DEPARTMENT so a question was asked, that's all.  Hopefully that has calmed down a little now.

You really did not have to repeat that whole thing - sorry!

Senior Center ($2000)
Acquatic Center ($700)
Hillside Cemetery ($5000)

and I don't see the Library on my the list at all and that is why I was surprised they were cut ($3000).

The Columbus Library is getting some pretty big street cred around America. We ARE one of the top 10 Libraries to get a special award this past year.

Check out this on the American Library Assc website.

Root for Columbus: It Took a Village to Make Our Tree

SO - that nightmarish budget season is over and as one long term resident told me "in 40 years, I have never ever seen a more fluid budget process".   ME NEITHER - What a convoluted mess.  I don't understand how Columbus can come through The Great Recession in really good shape but BAM - now we are forced to make hundreds of thousands in cuts?

Every 3 or 4 days we were given new information that changed everything and money is being moved around here and there to fill holes and none of it seeming to go towards roads.  By the time roads came up - SORRY, NOTHING LEFT, GOTTA PAY BILLS!!

It's frankly embarrassing. All I know is that we learned a lot this time around.  Last year the two new Council members were outcasts and had no real say in how things were spent as the old school city council did their own thing just nodding and agreeing.

You really don't know what a city budget is like until you actually dive into one.

nuff said.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Edge of Tomorrow

Let's just get to the actual facts and do away with wild rumors floating around the internet.  There are absolutely zero talks about contracting out the Columbus Police Department so you can stop the phone calls.  It would take a LOT more then a comment to contract out.  Probably a referendum and so forth, who knows.

WITH THAT SAID - feel free to call me as it gives me the opportunity to inform people of the reality and embarrassment of the City's financial situation.  

So when you see on facebook and get emails that the City Council is talking about contracting out the police department so we can have better roads, step away from the computer and stop running around with your hands in the air. You are being fed a bunch of hooey and you should no longer trust where you get your news.    

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WOW - what a weekend.

Badgers Mens Basketball scored 62 and 89 points with two wins
Badgers Womans Basketball scored 71 points an won
Badger Football scored 59 points and won
Green Bay Packers scored 53 points and won

BRING IT

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This is what happens when Sydney gets to DJs iPhone. 



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Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.

Sofie thought that was funny.  


Did you know cat urine glows under black light?? 

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Went to Webbers to get tires Friday - WHAT WAS I THINKING!   I completely had a brain farted.  I had been putting off getting tires until we were close to snow and then all of a sudden I NEED TIRES.

So I thought I would get there early before they opened to be close to the front of the line.  As I drive up at 7:15 . . what???  are they having a town meeting??   I put my name on the list and I was in the middle of the blue sheet, not so bad . . . wait . . . that is the second sheet? 

Long story short. I went out to my car and watched a movie (NOT Edge of Tomorrow) AND a TV show on Netflix on my iPad and I was half way down the list. 

The odd thing is that you become friends with all these people.  It's a pretty amazing wait.  I mean I'm standing there 3 hours in and a woman stands in line and is told it will be a 4 to 5 hour wait.  The woman says "OK, I'll be in my car".    WHAT????  

When my name was called to see what kind of tires I need, I still had a hour wait.  When your name is called because you car is ready people high five you and slap you on the back congratulating you.  

In at 7:15, out at 11:30.  

My plan was to go to Duffy's but he would need a day at least to get the tires and I needed them tomorrow.  

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Watched the worst movie title of all time.  The Edge of Tomorrow - Live. Die. Repeat.  I LOVED it. If you are a game player this ROCKS. Great plot, great acting, very exciting.  Very well done and not just repeating what you saw already.   93% of people on Flixter who wanted to see it gave it 5 stars which is unheard of ratings.

Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise are pretty darn good. 

http://youtu.be/5xuBlpp4ssg   


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Were we on an oil bubble???  


  
World global oil production is surging.  The world has a glut of oil being led by the US and SADLY, fracking. 


In the last 2 years the US has gone from 3.6 million barrels a day to 9.4 million barrels a day.

Nuff said 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rosetta

I hope everyone is excited about the Rosetta mission landing on a comet!  I mean this is something pretty darn special. A project that started 20 years ago and a mission that took off 10 years ago.  We chased that comet for 4 BILLION miles and 4 times around the sun.  Then once we caught up to this spinning ball of ice we landed on it!!  HOLY CRAP that is awesome.

Now we (we meaning mankind) have 64 hours to collect data before the batteries run out.  Solar panels will allow the ship to broadcast data for about one hour ever two days but they think they landed in a shadow as the batteries are not charging as fast as they thought. 

What they want to know is if this is the same water that seeded our planet (among other geeky science things).

Since earth did not originally have water the question has always been, where did it come from.  The most common theory is from comets like this one.  When earth was just a hunk of rock with all the GOOD minerals forming our core where did all the water and minerals come from on the outside surface.  The theory is Jupiter flung millions of comets towards earth which gave us the surface we now have.  Then Jupiter evolved and started sucking all of those loose projectiles to itself instead of flinging them our way.      

That's the theory at least.  

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Lots of wild talk about the city budget on the internet and frankly I have yet to actually SEE the "final" budget so I guess everyone on the net has better inside information. 

in a nutshell simplification. 

Columbus has a $360,000 short fall do to Enerpac property taxes being paid by the city (maybe we can borrow some money from Enerpac?) and some convoluted thing from the State that was a "surprise" (although this happens every year so . . ).  This has nothing to do with  moving funds to roads.  As far as I can see roads will be ignored once again unless we borrow money.  Again - I have yet to see the budget as the newest iteration in this very very fluid document only came out yesterday.    
I'll save my opinions on the upcoming cuts for later.  OK, just one.  Columbus has the largest Police force per capita and financially in our area Wisconsin.  Well, except for Monona.  This includes DeForest, Fitchburg, McFarland, Middelton, Oregon, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, Verona, Waunakee, Ocomomoc, Baraboo and Mount Horab.  I'm still looking into other towns budgets. 

We also have one of the smallest budgeted Fire Departments but those are harder to quantify.  So when people complain about public safety . . . . let's not forget about the fire fighters that make $10 an hour risking their lives saving your cat in a house fire. 

ENOUGH!  

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Speaking of oil - once again it's crashing.  NOT that I am a proponent of fracking but one of the reason gas is so cheap right now is SADLY because of fracking.  There is a glut of oil in the market because of less demand and there is a LOT of oil in the US and Russia.  With the Chinese economy slowing they are demanding less oil so . . there is a lot of oil around. 

The good news is that this might really bolster the global economy if OPEC decides to NOT cut production.  This summer oil was $115 a barrel, now it's in the $76 range  and COULD drop another $20.  This would really hurt Russia, to bad, so sad as they are an exporter of oil.  Less profits to feed their military. 

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Karen Silkwood died in a mysterious car accident on this day in 1974. She was on her way to meet with NY Times with a folder to show Kerr-McGee who owned a plutonium plant were being irresponsible and acting negligently in a "breeder reactor" for a nuclear-power plant.

Seems she took a bunch of Quaaludes and rammed into a culvert. Oddly she was not a druggie AND it seems there was a second car in the accident that rammed her from the rear forcing her off the road. What a coincidence.

That car  was never found along with the notebook with the secrets.  

Nuff said

Later!