Worries voiced on bus route cuts
JANESVILLE A reduction in west side bus routes was the top concern among residents who spoke to the city council during a public hearing on the 2011 budget Monday night.
Several residents who are visually impaired spoke about how use of the city's bus service allows them to be active members of the community.
"I understand economic times are tough," west side resident Jennifer Wenzel said. "I do not see this as a solution. You are causing people who are equal members of this community … to be less equal participants of the community because the way that we participate—mainly using the bus—would be reduced."
She invited council members to spend a few days using the bus service as their primary means of transportation to gain perspective on the effect these types of cuts would have.
The proposed budget would reduce the Kellogg Avenue and West Court Street routes during non-peak, weekday hours of 9:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. and on Saturdays beginning in July. The bus would run every hour rather than every half-hour during those times.
Ten residents spoke at the hearing, which will continue Monday, Nov. 22. That's also when the council will discuss and approve the budget.
Resident John Gorski suggested transportation expenses could be paid for with stronger police enforcement of drivers who run red lights.
"I would encourage the council to step up police enforcement, and you can pay for an awful lot of these things that you guys have been hearing tonight, especially bus transportation," he said.
Resident Wayne Gessner also urged the council not to increase fees at the Janesville Senior Center. Seniors believe they already pay for the center's services in taxes, he said.
Seniors will be going three years without an increase in benefits, so he suggested postponing fee increases a year and setting up a committee in the meantime to come up with a proposal satisfactory to all parties.
Following the hearing, Councilman Yuri Rashkin said he was concerned about the reduction in swimming pool hours. He made a motion to increase funding for pools by $6,000 to allow Riverside and Palmer Park wading pools to remain open an extra two hours.
The motion failed 1-5 with Councilman Russ Steeber absent.
In other business, the council approved on a 5-1 vote an alcohol license for Ryan Skinner of Milton, who plans to open the Lava Lounge at 121 E. Milwaukee St.
Councilman Frank Perrotto voted against the motion, expressing concerns that the problems that plagued former bars in the same location would continue and that "that type of clientele won't go away."
BUDGET AT A GLANCE
A look at the city of Janesville budget for 2011:
Next year * $45.68 million
This year * $45.49 million
Next year * $29.50 million
This year * $28.84 million
(Per $1,000 of assessed
Next year * $8.37
This year * $8.24
* Includes library, TIF
Note: Percent changes calculated on whole numbers.