On Jan. 14, I sent an e-mail to Robert Puente (my Milwaukee alderman) and numerous other city and county of Milwaukee "officials" (including the mayor and county executive), outraged over the nearly 40-percent increase in my commercial property taxes over last year. (See my blog at www.BecomeTheLeadDog.com if you care to see the original.)
Alderman Puente did respond to me and basically said "tough luck" on the taxes issue, "appeal next April." I never heard from Mayor Barrett, although I did receive a phone call from (Department of City Development Commissioner) Rocky Marcoux, who promised he would have his administrative assistant get back to me to set up a meeting between him and me (I never received the call), and I did receive a response from County Supervisor Joe Rice. I didn’t even send the e-mail to Mr. Rice, so "kudos" to him!!
I received a call from Steve Jagler of BizTimes Milwaukee who posted my e-mail on the BizTimes Daily. This was subsequently picked up by Charlie Sykes who not only read it on air, but also posted parts of it on his Blog and then picked up a quote from it as the "Quote of the Week." Thank you Charlie! I also received supportive calls from many, many of my small business colleagues: thank you.
I really didn’t expect to get much response from the "city folk." After all, I’m not a "big shot" businessman in Milwaukee (I’ve only been an independent business person in the community for 30 years, I only founded several successful small businesses employing several hundreds of Milwaukeeans, was recognized six times for having one of the fastest-growing companies in Milwaukee and one of the fastest in the nation and paid what I think of as enormous amounts of taxes over those years).
But here is what really got me going: I heard Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent William Andrekopoulos musing in front of the TV cameras about how they (MPS) should spend the stimulus funds that have been earmarked for MPS. They (MPS) had no idea how they were going to spend the money, and he was appealing for suggestions from the community!!
How outrageous is that? They didn’t know how they might spend the millions and millions of our hard-earned tax dollars being sent to them by the federal government? Manna from heaven? The thought of perhaps returning some of it – or reducing other expenses – never crossed their minds! Superintendent Andrekopoulos: How aobut returning it to the taxpayers by reducing the 49.3-percent tax increase your school board foisted on them last fall?
The insanity continues!
Wayne Staats is the owner of the Granville Business Development Center in Milwaukee.