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 or mail to P.O. Box 532, Wausau, Wis., 54402-0532.Leaf Pickup Press Release

7 replies on “Guest Column: Trick or treat? It’s leaf pickup time”

  1. Sorry Keene, this is not Appleton where they have more people and a much larger budget, I find the letter to be quite clear about the cost and how the leaves end up in the river, so I think you attempt at humor is not funny! But if we did have more money in stormwater funds, then we could use that money for leaf removal. Or we could pass an ordinance that all leaves must fall from the trees by a certain date! But that is only possible in Camelot.

    We either have to spend more money and remember the price of fuel is again much higher!

    Happy Halloween, and be careful if you are in a public building that we are struggling to update after years on no repairs.

  2. I really think the entire city budget could use an overhaul. Years of continuing old policies have left us with bloated budgets for many departments. There is no incentive for a director to save money- failing to spend your budgeted monies will likely result in a cut to your funds next year. Honestly I think we could cut nearly every budget by 10%….There would be a lot of crying and gnashing of teeth, but in the end ease the burden on taxpayers. If the city would use the money saved to perhaps hire a city administrator we could streamline improvement projects and the like. Because lets all agree on a few things- Nobody liked the mall deal, Nobody likes the current ineptitude shown in the waterfront development. The city residents deserve better. They deserve accountability and foresight from city officials- Not the current policy of “spend now and apologize later.”

  3. Selfish, self centered government employees that always want more $$$ to fix their incompetence. If you keep complaining it is going to come out of your early retirement fund.
    Stop wasting our tax dollars on downtown bridges, parks and pick up the leaves without your annoying complaints. Dissolve TIF districts and there will be plenty to cover expenses. Enough wasting our taxes dollars enriching millionaires so the mayor could be included in his socialite circle.

  4. You dont need brand new everything to maintain a town, take a look at what Wausau owns and how much that stuff costs from trucks to heavy equipment, specialized equipment, heavy trucks, small maintenance equipment. If they want $80,000 they can take it out of their equipment budget.

  5. FYI: The press release is not unsigned Keene, it has a complete heading on the top and contact information on the bottom.

  6. While the press release is on Department of Public Works (DPW) stationery, it is not clear who wrote it. However, as head of DPW, Eric Lindman is answerable for this document going public.

    From its structure to its punctuation, it is bad writing. It is at best a first draft that should have been reviewed and revised by someone before being published on the city website. To have a document that is this unprofessional on the website reflects poorly on the city.

  7. It is not a law, it is not a literary work… it is a press release and it contains the necessary information… should I now begin to grade your efforts and the logic you apply for your letter to the editor and columns… who other information does the public need.

    When you throw around raw data with out any explanation or sources for the information so I could and would review the original.

    I often agree with your visions and applaud many of your ideas, but as I have said before you are overly aggressive and prefer to make it a forced choice… my idea or none.

    Still willing to sit down and chat about things!

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