As the state of Wisconsin of Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas declaring the state’s , municipal and school district leaders are left pondering, "What's next?"
Colas's ruling came out of the blue and at a time when municipalities and school districts are in the middle of budget planning for the next fiscal year, or putting the finishing touches on budgets.
Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke said preparing budgets and maintaining services has become increasingly difficult over the last couple of years. He said that has again been the case while preparing the city's 2013 budget, which he hopes to present to the Common Council and get approved in the next few weeks.
But if the court's most recent decision stands, Neitzke said the impact could be dramatic.
"The cost efficiencies of Act 10 have been incorporated not only in our budget, but more directly in the way that we do things," he said. "Changing it back will not be easy, nor will it not be painful.
Neitzke broke the scenario down like this: you have a $150 worth of things to do, but only have $100 to spend. You create a $100 budget that’ll work by trimming and cutting where needed. Then someone comes along and says you have to spend an additional $20, on top of the $100 you just budgeted for.
"Something has to give," Neitzke said.
"While it won’t be easy, I have to think it will be even more difficult for the school districts. What do you do when you have entered into a health insurance contract with a lower cost provider, and a court essentially tells you that you have to go back to the more expensive old one? It has to have an impact on the kids."
Patch has not yet spoken with representatives from the Greenfield or Whitnall school districts.
Neitzke said planning budgets has been difficult lately.
"It’s easy to forget that those budgets actually pay for things: police officers, paramedics, snow plowing, roads, elections, restaurant safety, parks, and a bunch more things," Neitzke said. "It’s easy to prepare a budget that’s balanced. It’s more difficult to prepare a budget that is balanced and actually pays for all of the things that citizens rightly expect.
"We’ll all have to see where this decision goes. I think it is fair to say that this isn’t the end of it."