City Council votes against reopening budget, city worker wage increase amendment

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin proposed increasing city workers’ wages in a Tuesday meeting.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin proposed increasing city workers’ wages in a Tuesday meeting.

Image By: Dana Kampa

Mayor Paul Soglin said in a City Council meeting Tuesday that Madison is facing serious budgetary issues.

“When I made the decision that I wanted to be mayor of this city, I was deeply concerned about the trends [of solvency, poverty and equity],” Soglin said. “When I got here, I found out the situation was far worse than I thought or understood.”

City officials considered amending the operating budget to include higher city worker wage increases. Soglin sponsored adjusting the pay increase for employees from 1.5 percent to 2 percent to move toward pay equity.

General municipal employees, including Jeff Barrett, a city of Madison fleet services employee for 32 years, said they see inequity in city worker raises.

“I feel my job has as much value as any other city employee, and I would like to see that value recognized,” Barrett said.

Soglin also said the net income for city employees has declined over the past four years.

Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, and other alders objected to the proposal because the mayor did not discuss the 2 percent increase in the months spent developing the operating budget.

“It’s no way to make a political decision,” Resnick said. “It’s no way to run a city.”

Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, said she felt disrespected by the mayor for not bringing up the increase in the first budget meeting.

“When you ask for an example of what went wrong, I point to you,” Rummel said. “Lack of communication seems like a real problem here.”

The Council voted 13-5 against amending the operating budget to grant the 2 percent wage increase.

At the end of the meeting, the alders voted whether or not to reopen the 2015 capital budget. The alders largely agreed this budget is not perfect but there were too many complex issues to resolve in the next few weeks.

“We’re still getting used to how to pass budgets in a post-Act 10 world,” Ald. Larry Palm, District 12, said.

The Council decided to not reconsider the 2015 capital budget.

“At this point, we have to make serious decisions about the capital budget, which the Mayor’s office hasn’t been willing to come to the table on,” Resnick said. “Attempting to reopen it with amendments presented to council members the day of the meeting shows failed top down leadership.”

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