Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Budget Meetings: Hour 11

During a brief recess, a couple alders and staff told me they think the mayor plans to run through the entire operating budget tonight. That would be impressive, but it would also mean a late night.

Right now, the council is sinking its teeth into Amendment 25, put forward by Alders Brenda Konkel, Julia Kerr, Marsha Rummel and Brian Solomon to implement a recycling program in city parks. The program would require $50,000 a year to hire a couple of seasonal employees to maintain the recycling containers and buy up some recycling carts to stock in city parks.

Most alders seem to view the amendment favorably, and city Parks Supervisor Kevin Briski and Streets Superintendent Al Schumacher have both spoken out strongly in favor of it. But alders like Joseph Clausius contend adding the program as a budget amendment is the wrong way to go about it, and think it ought to be addressed at a later date.

In response, Alder Brian Solomon at 9:21 amended the amendment to require the program to pass through the Parks Commission and come back before the City Council before being implemented.

But Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, with his strong record on environmentalism, surprised many in the council by speaking against the recycling program. He said, having spoken with Recycling Coordinator George Dreckman, there is a lot of concern that, too often, people in parks will dump regular trash in with the recycling, causing problems down the line for waste management.

"I think there ought to be a different ethic in our parks," Mayor Cieslewicz said. "I think it ought to be, 'Don't throw it away in our parks, pack it out of our parks.' That's the more environmental ethic."

In an 11-9 vote, the motion passed, meaning Madison will begin to take the steps needed to implement a parks recycling program, hingeing on a future council vote to approve it.

In the council chambers, there are a few eyelids beginning to visibly droop.

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