Dick Steinberg has resided in the city of Brookfield for 35 years. He served 34 years as municipal judge and has been an attorney for 50 years. He enjoys tennis, golf, biking and creative writing, which includes legal issues, sports, government and people.
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In the recent issue of our community newspaper there are resolutions which are titled as a budget amendment by the Finance Committee. In the same newspaper there is a headline FINANCE COMMITTEE EXPLORES UPGRADING COUNCIL CHAMBERS. I looks like on the one hand the city is saving money and on the other hand the city is spending money. If this were a referendum I would encourage senior citizens to vote NO.
Then there is the front page headline FINANCE COMMITTEE CUTS CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS BUDGET. A budget is just that, a budget, but the philosophy in my legal, public and private experience is that if you don't spend the money in the budget next time around you won't get it. In all due respect for the alderpersons who have the burden of making decisions on these matters, unless you view or attend each and every meeting it is difficult to comprehend some of these decisions. That is why we have trust in our public officials. However, we do expect clarity.
It is assumed that these resolutions are voted on by the Common Council although they appear to be signed by the Mayor who approved them. (the resolutions don't state council approval).
I do not recall a notice for public discussion on these amendments, as worthy as they may be, and maybe none is required by law as may be for the publication of the amendments in the local newspaper.
The code numbers printed after each budget item are OK for the city hall staff to find on their computers but not OK for public consumption, i.e. Municipal Court, Group Insurance-other, with code numbers too small to read or remember. What is the other ?
The public has the right to know.