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30 mayors ask governor to veto little known budget provision

CREATED Jun 28, 2013 - UPDATED: Jun 28, 2013

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MADISON - Governor Walker is set to sign the new state budget on Sunday in Pleasant Prairie.  This morning, 30 mayors across the state are asking the governor to veto two provisions you probably haven't heard of.

The mayors have sent the Governor a letter through the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

The two provisions make it harder, if not impossible, to increase fees for things like street sweeping, snow removal, garbage collection, sewer, or fire protection.  Under the new provision, voters would have to approve any increase, just like they currently do with tax levy increases.

"Instead of having responsible elected officials, the citizens themselves are directly empowered," said Dan Thompson with the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

That may sound like a good thing.  But the problem, Thompson says, is that the average voter doesn't usually spend enough time to really understand the issues.

"I've been in this business almost 40 years and I have yet to have a citizen walk up to me and say, Dan, I really want to spend more time studying the sewer budget so I know what the sewer rate ought to be," Thompson said.

So what generally happens is voters refuse to approve tax increases, but don't want services cut.

He points to a story in Weston, Wisconsin.  The village tried to cut bus service.  Voters approved a referendum to restore it.  Then when the village asked voters to approve money to pay for it, the voters said no.

"So we had a situation where the voters in Weston voted to maintain the service, but were unwilling to vote for the levy increase," Thompson said.