Thief-in-the-night public policy
Fitchburg, Wisconsin is a small city bordering Madison in southern Dane County.
Known for its rustic character, the highly educated and diverse populace votes some 70 percent Democratic-progressive with an emphasis on green politics.
Fitchburg is also the latest victim of political deceit and chicanery from its mayor, Steve Arnold, who won a narrow victory last April.
Mayor Arnold dropped a late-September bomb, his proposed 2016 budget, that would hike residents' property tax bill some nine percent.
This translates to higher rents for tenants and some $200 in higher property taxes for the typical single-family household.
Arnold calls his budget a "moral document," yet one on which Arnold declined to campaign.
The last 30 years Fitchburg mayors typically submitted budgets which would 'hold the line' on taxes, and take it easy on households' financial bottom line.
Not so with Arnold.
Arnold writes to the Common Council, "[T]he average home will pay approximately $2,288 towards city government operations, an increase of $202 or 9.7%," (2016 Budget letter, p.6 (pdf)).
I have been living in—or covering as a journalist—Fitchburg for decades and no one, (and I mean literally no one), has ever ran on a political platform calling for higher property taxes. It would be political suicide.
So Arnold decided he would leave this hike-property-taxes scheme out of his 2014-15 campaign for mayor. Have a look at Arnold's "Fitchburg Idea," and tell where he even mentions property taxes.
Our household and many of our neighbors' are counting on the Common Council to kill this budget and make it DOA: No property tax increases wanted, period.
This government by ambush, perfected by Gov. Scott Walker, should stop, it's an affront to representative democracy and households' bank accounts.