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Sharon Hampson: Answers to city’s ills aren’t so easy

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

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In a letter to the editor (May 16 Tribune), Thomas Haag suggested the city could save money by reducing the city council from 17 seats to six, as Austin, Texas, does.

Well, here’s the rest of the story.

In Austin, each of those council members gets a salary of $62,795. In addition, they have 19 executive assistants, whose salaries range from $40,000 to $61,000. The city manager gets paid $242,000 a year, and the mayor brings in $74,000.

The total so far is $1,642,770, and that’s without benefits added in. I also assume the mayor and the city manager have staff, too.

The total annual operating budget for the city of Austin is $2.5 billion.

That’s the problem with only looking at one aspect of a situation — it doesn’t give a fair and balanced picture.

The number of elected officials is just a number, and its meaningless without all the rest of the numbers. Keep that in mind as we move forward with redistricting. It’s more complicated than it looks.

If you want to weigh in on the topic, do your homework first. Figure out how much money is spent in the city and county of La Crosse for elected officials. All the information is available online, just like Austin, Texas.

As for his other suggestion about garbage collection pickups being reduced, you’d have to investigate the finances of the company that handles the waste and carefully examine the city’s agreement with said company.

See what I mean about complicated?

Sharon Hampson is a member of the La Crosse County Board.

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