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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Local budget alert - your action needed NOW!


Cuts are coming to city of La Crosse services. We knew this was in the works. COVID-19 has made a mess of municipal and individuals' budgets. But these cuts were suggested in the Before Times. Before we collectively woke up (did we?) to the need for supporting and expanding city services that promote inclusion, access to education and recreation, and that help all city residents live full lives.

The budget cut suggestions document is here. Cuts are relatively deeper to the Library (about 13%) and Parks and Recreation (about 20%) than the Police Department.

Now is the time to ask those who have promised change to budget that change. Now is the time to tell those who said, "We get it!" to prove it by opening up the process that determines what our city prioritizes.

If cuts must be made, convene a panel of citizens and make sure it includes all ages, races, abilities, and income levels. In other countries citizen panels help governments budget, set priorities, and agree policies. Here's a great opportunity for doing things differently to make sure big decisions that affect everyone actually include everyone. 

Here's a sample letter you can use or feel free to write your own. Please be civil. Address the whole council using council@cityoflacrosse.org. Address the Mayor by using kabatt@cityoflacrosse.org.

SAMPLE LETTER:
I am disappointed and disheartened by news of the proposed budget cuts in the 2020 Budget Reduction Plan.

Your plan to cut roughly 13% of the La Crosse Library and 20% of the La Crosse Parks and Rec Budget, two services vital to the well-being of this community, while imposing a meager 1% cut to the La Crosse Police Department is short-sighted and ill-reasoned. If you cut the La Crosse Police Department by only 10%, you could fully fund the library and the Parks.

If our current political climate has taught us anything, it is the dangers of pouring all of our funds into policing, while letting other, vital community systems fall into disrepair. To cut the vital community and quality of life services provided by the library and Parks and Rec offices while barely touching the already overblown resources of the La Crosse Police Department sends the exact wrong message to our community. 

Please rethink this budget strategy. We need to focus our funds on enriching our city, not patrolling it.
UPDATE: We hear there's a community meeting to address this issue coming soon. Details will be posted here as soon as available.

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