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As I See It

Shared services may be answer to budget woes

Scott Robert Shaw

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La Crosse certainly isn’t alone, but it is in a tough spot. Like many cities, La Crosse is seeing an increase in expenses and a decrease in revenue, due in large part to the coronavirus outbreak. The city of La Crosse is projecting a shortfall of nearly $6 million this year. So how will the budget be balanced? Raising taxes is one obvious option, but not a popular one. Especially after the city raised the assessments of most homeowners last year, leaving them with higher property tax bills. The city could make cuts, but where? We don’t want to sacrifice public safety, so two of the city’s biggest budget items, police and fire protection, appear safe. La Crosse could suspend non-essential services like leaf pickup and street sweeping, but those cuts wouldn’t help much. One possible solution is to finally get serious about exploring a sharing of services between La Crosse and neighboring cities. Garbage collection, wastewater treatment, even police and fire protection could be regionalized. That could help balance the budget not only in La Crosse, but in neighboring communities as well. There have been discussions about the sharing of some services, but those talks generally haven’t gone well. Now that we are all suffering equally, it may be time to revive those talks. With budgets bleeding, we may not have much of a choice.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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