May 26, 2009

City Notes: Committee approves crypt sale; City receives grant for farmer's markets

Odds and ends from Tuesday night's Personnel and Finance Committee, which included the return of Alderman Tom Friedel to the committee he once chaired:

Senior Center

As mayor, Friedel asked the city to track attendance at the Belle City Senior Center, which is located at the former Lakeview Community Center. From January to March attendance was split 50-50 between Racine residents and people from outside of the city, according to Finance Director Dave Brown.

The numbers roughly broke down as 50 percent from Racine, 20 percent from Caledonia, 20 percent from Mount Pleasant and 10 percent from other communities.

Farmer's Markets

The city received $2,298 from the State Department of Health to give out vouchers to low-income residents so they can shop at local farmer's markets. The city also received an additional $25,581 for the city's Women, Infants and Children program.

Crypt Sales

The city is hoping a sale will jump start the sale of crypts in Mound Cemetery later this year. Parks and Recreation Director Donnie Snow sought permission from the committee to waive fees for people buying new crypts in the cemetery. The final resting places are now under construction. The committee agreed to waive fees on the crypts, which include $760 for residents and $990 for nonresidents, until the end of the year. Snow said the crypts will go on sale later this summer.

Water fees

The city is likely to pull $365,214 out of its savings account to pay for a surprise fee increase from the state Public Service Commission on March 25. The 30 percent increase will help pay to maintain water pressure to fire hydrants throughout the city.

"It's non-negotiable and we have to pay it," Brown said.

Friedel, who sits on the board that manages the water utility, called the increase "unprecedented."

The city has plenty of money to cover the budget hit. Brown said the city's reserve balance is around $22 million, which is roughly 29 percent of the city's budget. The city must keep at least a reserve fund equal to 20 percent of the budget, Brown said.

"This is why we have that fund," he said.

The budget amendment passed the committee unanimously.

You can read the JT's story on this here.


  1. Farmer's Markets help everyone a very low cost way to improve neighborhoods and all who live in the area!

  2. And while your at it, leave the senior center alone. The zoo can't even break even. Let them get out of debt then take on more prime real estate. The existing parking lot works just dandy. I love using the park by the senior center. I use the baseball diamond. The seniors rock, city or otherwise!

  3. Heather in Caledonia5/27/2009 8:23 AM

    So we really give people vouchers to buy from farmer's markets? $2,000 isn't much if you look at the big picture, but, do we really need to do this? How much of those vouchers ever get used? Why not just allow them to use part of their WIC money (that is the new food stamps, right?) Maybe a "receipt" from a farmer's market could be turned in for credit on their WIC card? There are so many little handout programs out there... I shouldn't be surprised anymore. :)

  4. Heather my understanding is that WIC can and is used a Farmer's Markets. I am unsure how the new program would work. However would you rather see help given to someone trying to feed there family better or buy chips and pop to feed?
    I agree there are many strange programs out there but WIC nor this one is anything but a good idea.
    If you want to know the huge impact of diet on health come to the Eat Right Racine movie night this evening at D.P. Wiggly at 6:30

  5. If the WIC cards are usable at the Farmer's Markets, then why spend more on vouchers? I see people buying all sorts of things at the supermarkets on their "food stamp card" that they aren't supposed to. It has always been my understanding that only unprepared foods were eligable. But I see these people buying cigarettes, soda, booze, prepared foods from the store deli, and much more. Maybe it's time to get that under control before offering to give them even more money. How much do these politicians think us tax payers can afford? It seems as though they want to drive us all to the poor house.

  6. Heather in Caledonia5/27/2009 12:34 PM

    I totally agree that eating better keeps you healthier. I'm glad to hear that WIC can be used at the Farmer's Markets. It's just that I don't see why we would need another program - just advertise that the WIC users that they can use their WIC money at the markets. Maybe even send them a map and bus routes to show how to get to the markets.

    Anon 12:12,
    I can believe that a lot of the WIC money is used for things that are not so healthy. How can they do that, though? Isn't it just usable on certain things? Can't they block out what can be charged on the cards? If people are allowed to buy cigarettes using WIC money, that system seriously needs an overhaul.

  7. Heather, I questioned that some time ago and was told by a state official that the checkout people in the grocery stores are the ones who are supposed to monitor what is purchased with food stamps. I was also told that bar codes differ from company to company and can't be used to filter the purchases. I was also told that if the stores don't educate their checkout people about what is not allowed that they system will suffer. What I don't understand is why the stores don't have just one lane where WIC cards can be used with a clerk who is knowledgable of the system.

  8. Heather, What a hypocrite you are. You complain that someone didn't eat the bread you made, you say you help deliver meals to the poor yet you have the gall to past judgement on the down and out and lump them into some sort of category of ungrateful individuals.

    Eating right is important and I am sure that these vouchers will be welcomed by those who need food. In all your blogs but on the JT and here you seem to be continuously blasting the little guy. Get over yourself.

    If a clerk IS truly allowing those things to be checked out, they are guilty of fraud. I doubt very much this is happening on a routine basis. PLUS, if a citzen witnesses that fraud at the checkout, they must report it to store management. If someone is at the store using assistance for some items and uses cash for other things, I have a problem with us being so small minded that someone on assistance can't buy some soda, a deli meat, etc.

  9. Heather in Caledonia5/28/2009 7:57 AM

    Anon 12:12,
    Thank you for the information.

    Anon 5:32,
    Why don't you list your name when you post personal attacks? I have better things to do than post my opinion where someone is going to hit me with personal attacks instead of just defending their position. Enjoy posting. You haven't changed my opinion on this as you have not placed an "argument." And, BTW, I AM the little guy.

  10. Heather, Your time is always used attacking the poor but you profess to "help" the poor. The bread thing was over the top with you, remember that? Don't pass judgement on the poor because they didn't like your bread.

  11. Heather in Caledonia5/28/2009 3:12 PM

    Oh, please. I was nowhere near over the top. And, no, I am not passing judgment on those who "don't like my bread." Honestly - can't we keep the discussion to what the article is about? I'm sorry if I touched a nerve with my story about the bread. Let's move on...