Cindy moved to Brookfield in 1994 with her husband and three children in tow. It's been a very interesting seventeen years.
I know I'm going to get some pushback on this one. In fact, 5th District Alderman Scott Berg has really made a name for himself already even though we completely agree on this issue. (You never quite know what to expect from that guy.)
So, here's the bottom line: The Common Council recently voted to increase the "wellness" fund for city employees by $12,000 in order to help pay for health club memberships.
Of course, the same Council voted a few months ago to cut the library budget by $25,000 for 2011. So could $12,000 have stayed in the library budget if we weren't paying employee health club dues?
As always, there's a complicated backstory to this result. I'll try and hope I don't miss anything.
1) I supported the Library budget cuts. I was ticked when I walked in and saw a big screen tv planted on the wall behind circulation rotating very unimportant information. I bet between the cost of the tv and the cost of installation plus the maintenance to keep it going you're looking at $5,000. I figure if the library had $5,000 or so to toss at a tv, there was probably room in the budget. (I guess it could have been a Friends of the Library contribution, but I thought they'd been spending money in the children's area, so I figured not.) Plus, I do think we need to start somewhere. The only way we are ever going to get spending under control is to actually start controlling spending.
2) Like I said, Berg and I agree on the wellness issue. Berg and I didn't agree on the library issue. He still wanted the $25,000 included in their budget. 6th District Alderman Chris Blackburn also voted against the wellness increase. I don't think Blackburn had a committee vote prior to the final budget vote, but I know he supported that budget with the lower library funding.
3) My alderman, 2nd District Bob Reddin, has the dubious distinction of leading the charge to reduce library funding, and also, as chair of the Human Resources, et.al. committee, leading the charge to increase the wellness spending to cover health club memberships. Others are also in the same boat. To my surprise, that looks to include both 6th District Alderman Jerry Mellone and 7th District Alderwoman Lisa Mellone. (I have no doubt missed a couple. Someone will let me know. He always does.)
4) One of the arguments for the increased wellness spending is that it was the employee's money anyway. There is excess from the health care flex accounts. I (and Berg) would argue that's not the case, as that money reverts to the general fund. Besides, if it was really the employee's money, don't you think they'd rather have it back instead of buying their coworker part of a club membership?
5) I have been told this is already a done deal. I thought there might be another vote in the Council, but it wasn't on last week's agenda, so maybe not. Oh well. It's not like anyone listens to me anyway.
So if it's done, why bring it up? To keep you in the loop, dear reader. No one considered the extra middle-of-the-year spending real news. And that's a shame. There's a whole lot that goes on with your local government when you aren't watching.
I was quick to place blame on Mayor Steve Ponto. I argued that as a strong conservative he should have known better than to let staff come forward with this kind of plan. Of course, that certain someone told me I was wrong. So, who do you think we should blame? There's really no way around the idea that we cut $25,000 from the library budget and gave $12,000 to city employees to help fund their health club memberships.