Monday, October 06, 2008

Another round of James Wigderson and his critics

Last week's column in the Waukesha Freeman was written in blog form and one of the topics addressed was one of my pet peeves.

One of my pet peeves about local politicians is when they complain about "mandates" but never tell anybody which ones they oppose. For example, Vrakas complains 40 percent of his budget is dedicated to state and federal mandates. Set aside for the moment that county government’s purpose is to act as a local government body fulfilling state functions. What mandates does Vrakas object to? Which ones would Vrakas ask not to be imposed on his county?

Quite often it isn’t the mandates local politicians object to, it’s the lack of money to pay for them. (School boards are often the worst offenders.)

County Executive Dan Vrakas' chief of staff Allison Bussler sent the following response:

October 2, 2008

Jim Wigderson
The Freeman
801 N. Barstow St.
Waukesha, WI 53186

Dear Jim:

Your commentary in the Thursday, October 2 edition of the Freeman hits the mark on Waukesha County’s effort to control taxes and provide quality services. I wanted to thank you for your comments and bring you up to date on some other efforts we are working on as well.

The County Executive has indeed made it a priority and has set a clear direction that Waukesha County’s budget will continue to operate at levels that are less than that of inflation. He believes that such fiscal discipline will generate efficiency and provide for long term and sustainable tax relief.

He has been a leader in working to reform and change the largest state mandate to local governments, commonly referred to as the Mediation Arbitration Law. The Executive feels that this law, particularly as it relates to health insurance for public employees, stands as a barrier to meaningful negotiations between employee and employer interests that could save millions of taxpayer dollars.

The County Executive feels that ultimate judgment should be made on the budget that is signed into law. To this end, the County Executive has taken the unprecedented step of including County Board leadership in the early development of his Executive Budget. As a result, the three budgets he has signed into law, after adoption by the County Board, and his proposed 2009 budget, which the County Board is reviewing now, are some of the most conservative budgets in the State of Wisconsin.


Allison Bussler
Chief of Staff

Yes, I know, the Spring City Chronicle is jealous.