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Senior Taxi Funding OK'd for 2013, but Jammin' Faces Cuts

Aldermen say the popular senior program has merit, but the summer street festival can do with less funding

Senior Taxi Funding OK'd for 2013, but Jammin' Faces Cuts Senior Taxi Funding OK'd for 2013, but Jammin' Faces Cuts

The Muskego Senior Taxi will continue to receive funding from the city in 2013 at the same level it has in past years, but Jammin' on Janesville will likely face a cut.

Meetings at the Committee of the Whole Tuesday, aldermen asked questions of representatives from the taxi service, which provides low-cost rides for Muskego seniors, to determine if they would continue to approve a $5,000 request for funding in 2013. The organization started about six years ago and has received city funds every year since.

At issue was not whether the program was a benefit to the city, but rather how the city should categorize funding for this and other community organizations and services.

"There are a lot of other organizations that would appreciate the same consideration," said Alderman Dan Soltysiak. "I'm not talking about necessarily cutting funding, but creating a pool of funds. I don't think anyone here would disagree that Senior Taxi does a great service, I'd just like to open up the opportunity to others."

Soltysiak has proposed developing a program that would offer funding to various community organizations seeking help, if they meet certain criteria. However, Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti and Alderman Neome Schaumberg said they felt that discussion to create such a program would have to be held separately and for the 2014 budget.

A poll of the committee left the funding in tact for 2013, with Alderman Kert Harenda voting no because he wanted to initiate discussion on Soltysiak's proposal first before alloting any funds.

Similar discussion for Jammin' on Janesville indicated that the city would be less generous for the festival, which is organized by the Chamber of Commerce.

Tina Weiss, executive director, clarified that the overall budget for the festival was $43,000 and the city's funding portion of that was $19,000. She told the committee that a good portion of their budget in 2012 also went to fund sponsorships for nonprofits throughout the run of the festival. 

In addition, she provided the committee with surveys taken after the 2012 events, with more than 50 percent of the businesses stating they had seen customers come from Jammin' on Janesville.

However, several on the committee felt that there wasn't enough data to show that businesses were indeed helped or saw profits as a result of the events. In addition some cited that the funding provided to the Senior Taxi represented only 6 percent of the service's total budget of $85,000. The chamber's request of $19,000 represents about 44 percent of its budget for the event.

"I want to feel comfortable funding this, and I need more data from the businesses to see what impact this event has had," said Alderman Rob Wolfe.

While all of the aldermen agreed the event should receive some funding, the amounts varied widely. Alderman Rob Glazier had suggested $2,500 to $5,000, while Alderman Neil Borgman said he felt the original understanding was that the need would be for three years, and the city should continue funding at $19,000.

Asked what impact the cuts would have on the 2013 events, Weiss said the chamber may opt to cut out the nonprofit funding sponsorships that were a part of this year's events, cut back on marketing and possibly cut out one of the three events. Weiss also explained that after construction was over, it's likely Jammin' on Janesville could become a completely different event, with perhaps only one scheduled festival planned during the summer.

In general, it appeared that $10,000 would be the number in 2013's budget, but the decision was delayed for the next meeting.

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