I have been a citizen of Brookfield for 24 years and a member of the Brookfield Common Council for eight years, including two years as president. Many blogs in the past have contained false and distorting info about public affairs. I will provide truthful information and maintain an influence on city policy.
Yesterday the JournalSentinel newsstand copy and the internet version both gave us the good news that WE Energies announced a 7 percent rate increase. This should be a call to arms for local tax payers. What would we think if the headline read: "7% property tax increase proposed ". This would spark a minor insurrection and state legislators would have TABOR enacted in no time. So far, I haven't heard a word of protest. This 7% increase wil be loaded onto the residential electric bill of property tax paying home owners beause of a projected 13.6% drop in electricity sales to LARGE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL CUSTOMERS. Why not make the big users make up the shortfall? WE Energy pays no local property taxes in spite of the fact that they have tens of thousands of utility poles, transformers and other facilities in the city that are tax free. We energies pays only a nominal permit fee for pavement cuts to access their facilities. Not only that, but their heavy equipment puts stress on local streets every day. and street obstructions are usually cauaed by utility trucks.
Now for those profits! Their profits increased by 7% in 2008 ($33.56 mil) and another 1% in 2009 ($3.6 mil) while revenues are declining! Why doesn't this compute? In a severe recession let profits go.
Layoffs. are not desirable under any circumstances. but WE would be prudent to implement layoffs as are their customers. You can't justify a 7% rate increase without a layoff. I realize that a utility as a public monopoly is structured and operates somewhat differently from stricly private entities. That's no excuse to not lay off.
Executive "salaries" have been frozen this year. This word can and does represent many and diverse things. There could be an additional pension contribution, an increased bonus this year, increased stock options or stock purchase plans at favorable rates among others. I'd need proof that "salaries" haven't been augmented some other way.
This rate increase is very unfair and burdensome. Local governments are at a particular disadvantage becaquse property tax assessment is limited; usually about 3%. Our resources to pay for critical police and emergency medical services are continually squeezed harder as are school resources now that the QEO is gone. I can see 40-student classes in a few years.
Next time you are delayed on a street due to workers blocking a lane, causing a traffic backup. Chances are it's a private utility project as opposed to a city crew.