Three weeks away from a public hearing on the city of La Crosse’s 2024 budget.
Some of the discussion on WIZM with La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds earlier this month hovered around the sacrifices that are being made, including leaving a fire department position unfilled, not granting police requested overtime and closing the south side library branch, which will happen Dec. 1.
City council member Mackenzie Mindel was on La Crosse Talk PM last week to help better understand the position the city is in, while discussing these cuts.
La Crosse Talk PM airs weekdays at 5:06 p.m. Listen on the WIZM app, online here, or on 92.3 FM / 1410 AM / 106.7 FM (north of Onalaska). Find all the podcasts here or subscribe to La Crosse Talk PM wherever you get your podcasts.
“The budget that we’ve been operating in the past and that the community was confortable with was a totally unrealistic budget,” Mindel said. “And that’s why you hear this conversation of a structural deficit.
“We were operating, our city, for whatever reason, was opearting much higher than we noramally should have, and sort of kicking the can down the road, down the road, down the road, and now we’re here in 2023, and we really have to tighten this up, to make sure that we don’t hit the ceiling of what we’re able to debt finance.”
The sacrifices being discussed now, which also could include closing the North Side Community Pool in 2025, could help minimize bigger cuts in the future.
“According to our director of finance and staff, and mayor, what we’re doing right now is making hard decisions to prevent us from getting in a really bad spot,” Mindel added “So we, as policy makers, are making harder decisions now to prevent us from getting in a really dangerous spot, where we have hit the ceiling that we’re allowed to debt finance.
“And so we don’t want to do that, because we want to minimize the impact to our taxpayers in our city and we don’t want to make these huge cuts. So, we’re trying to rightsize our operating budget to make sure that we are being fiscally responsible, and being responsible to our taxpayers as well.”