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Guest Column: Trick or treat? It’s leaf pickup time

in Opinion

By Keene Winters

Today, I think we have a real treat for you. Last week, there was an actual reply from city hall to my Oct. 3 column on the city leaf pick up schedule. The unsigned press release from Oct. 8 is embedded below.

Keene Winters served two terms on the Wausau City Council from April 2012 to April 2016. (Photo credit: Life Touch)

However, first some background information may be helpful. The press release places the cost of the annual leaf pick-up at $244,000 per year to have one pass through each neighborhood. It also says that city staff estimate it would cost an additional $80,000 per year to have three passes through each neighborhood like is done in the City of Appleton. It concludes that the only way for Wausau to have better service is to raise taxes.

That is the press release’s argument in a nutshell. Just understand that you are going to have to wade through a lot of extraneous verbiage and a short scolding for not passing the referendum to implement storm water utility fees to find it.

Moreover, those numbers needs some context. In 2017, the Wausau Department of Public Works (DPW) had a budget of $6,389,005. According to presentations to the Finance Committee, it spent

$6,240,059, leaving a favorable variance for 2017 of $148,946. So, it seems at least plausible that a good manager could find the funds to do what is necessary in a budget that size.

Current city documents show that DPW has a 2018 budget of $6,946,944, up 11% over 2017 spending levels . In that context, it seems hard to argue that the citizens of Wausau have not been generous enough with their tax dollars to make an Appleton-style leaf pick-up possible. So, do not be tricked into believing that it is a crime to ask for services on par with what other communities have.

Editor’s note: The views of our readers and guest columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot and Review. To submit a letter, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to P.O. Box 532, Wausau, Wis., 54402-0532.

Leaf Pickup Press Release

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