Soldiers Square/Library Issue by Alexander Schultz

Looking back on City of Appleton happenings in 2018 and before, I'm getting more concerned  as to where the present Appleton leadership seems to want to take us.

Soldiers Square/Library Issue...

The proposals to build new library/housing complex is the epitome of ridiculous.  All of the concerns about traffic flow and parking issues for that site are not being addressed for that location.  Now, adding the massive plans for the US Venture build nearby, all I can visualize is more congestion and problems.  Does this mean we just throw more money and more studies at it to solve the problems?

Shortly, the City Center Ramp will be torn down...with no replacement.  Yes, there are two newer ramps nearby, but there is a finite number of spaces available with quite a number of spaces contracted.  Mayor Tim has stated that Appleton does not have a parking problem; we have a walking problem.  Tell that to Alderman Joe Martin and others with mobility issues.

The present library site is still the best site for the library of today...and tomorrow.  What will the Library of the Future call for?  After watching the growth in technology in computers and our phones, who knows where we'll be heading.  The building is four walls, floors and ceilings...the useage will be the major change.  The present building was built for future growth in mind, and the present location has more growth potential than the site(s) south of College Avenue.  The amount of dollars that our mayor and Council seem to be willing to throw at the problem, and the promise of mixed use tax dollars coming back to pay for this is as close to "Fantasy Island" that I can see.  Evidently, the Richmond Terrace lesson has not been learned.

Could we as taxpayers at least receive a realistic report on what it would be to redo/expand the present library?

Submitted by Laura Leimer - 720 E. Washington St. - Appleton, Wis   54911   920-739-7974     LMLeim@cs.com

APPLETON CITY BUDGET AS SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF A TAXPAYER by Alexander Schultz

To unite us in defining Wisconsin’s current property tax status nationally, Taxrates.org (2018) cites WI ranking 5th as the worst state for property taxes, Wallet hub (2018) places us 47th best in the amount paid.

In making financial decisions, it is imperative to recognize residents choosing to reside here carry this load. However, the City of Appleton Key Strategy #1 (2015) which initially read: “Determine city-wide priorities and budget accordingly”, now reads: “Prompt delivery of services.” None of the new 2019 Key Strategies reflect fiscal responsibility.

In skirting the levy limitations, our local representatives have created and imposed additional streams of income to include a wheel tax (while still burdening residents with responsibility for new road costs), fire fees, pet licensing fees, recycling can fees, larger garbage can fees, just to name a few. The adoption of an automated system should be reducing our collection fees according to the ads, with one person collecting (in lieu of 2-3) more expeditiously with fewer accidents and injuries.

Of note: additional costs are proposed be hitting us in the areas of parking fees, storm water and garbage fees!

Increasing building would increase the tax base and keep our costs down was touted. Within one mile of our residence buildings arose: Latitude 44 complex, Century Oaks (assisted living), Trail’s Edge Apartments, Glenhurst homes and more.

Still, our city budget will exceed this.

A budget is a declaration of priorities.” (P.C. 5/19/2016)

Deep diving into the comprehensive research for the proposed new library, which clearly cites parking as a major concern, along with statistics compiled by T. Roessler sheds light on current trends and needs:

“APL availability of downloadable materials, which increased 1332% since 2009, and the technology which makes them easily accessible has resulted in a significant reduction in library circulation of printed materials (down 34%), number of printed books owned (down 18%), and library visits (down 22%).  In addition, the accessibility of the Internet via smart phones and personal computers has resulted in a decreased need for library owned Internet computers (65% reduction in APL public internet computer use).”

Bottom line: Appleton needs places to hold meetings.

This is a resource rich community with available, willing partners. Our church, one night last week, hosted an orchestra rehearsal, the Boy Scouts, a small homeowners association meeting. With no parking fees or hassle.

Appleton’s current budget:

  • neglects significant and major safety needs in our police department, which glaringly reflect a cumulative path of poor planning and attention,

  • advocates for $700,000 in City Hall renovations,

  • over $300,000 in the planning of the new library,

  • has a projected $508,701 payment (2018 projected) for poor funding decisions made in building the City Exhibition Center.

City of Appleton Key Strategy #6: Create opportunities and learn from successes and failures.

Let us learn:

What we were told: The City Exhibition Center would cost the taxpayers nothing.

Reality: We paid for the land and infrastructure: $2,830,632 (2016), with additional burden cited above.

Appleton residents paid for overage costs of Houdini: $90,000.

Appleton East storm water project exceeded allotted funding, were warned that the firm chosen may not be appropriate, chose them any way and ended up in legal knots, costing us another $65,000.

When the city opted to pay for a new fire engine, although the part needing replacement was under warranty…. $203,000, the P.C. (July 26, 2014) cited: it’s an “amount (that) wouldn’t put a dent in the city’s finances”.

Yes, Appleton is good places to live…are we deterring some due to the costs?


Anecdotally, one family sold their home to save $6,000/year, a newly wed Kiwanwis member vowed to avoid Appleton living due to the costs, another moved to a surrounding area to avoid the taxes…one person wrote to me that she would like to improve her $150,000 home, but the taxes and additional fees won’t allow for that.

The 2018 figure for average Appleton rent paid (rentjungle): $603.

My monthly taxes exceed that! One City Council member didn’t believe it, until I showed him my bill.

Defies Logic

A recent article indicated the possibility of a referendum for police and fire department basic needs, however, none will be offered for the Library proposal.

Is the City of Appleton going to rent the Library space in a mixed development?

What, exactly is the city funding? Plans without a destination? Apartments? Has anyone looked at the dark former Fox Valley Hematology and Oncology Building as an option?

Fifty-six million dollars ($56,000,000) of infrastructure changes to the Soldiers Square and bluff sites, and, what was once US Venture’s parking ramp obligation is now Appleton’s, are we making things truly “better”?

Step back, is Appleton morphing our “needs” to marry up with our “wants”?

Every year, Appleton collects $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 more than required, which is used to pay down debt. Solution: Look at using this to replace the $1.3 million generated from the wheel tax.

To our Appleton City Council Members: Please acknowledge the tax and fee burdens on your constituents, meet the needs of our police and fire departments, return to your 2015 Key Strategy.

Your financial decisions directly impact our quality of life.