City Council continues 2015 budget meetings
Funding of anti-heroin campaign discussed, pet shelter moved to 2016 budget
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD —The Marshfield City Council met Monday for the second in a series of meetings discussing the proposed 2015 city budget. Two topics, an anti-heroin campaign and building a pet shelter in Marshfield, received particular attention as funding them would create an unbalanced budget where the city would have more expenses than revenues.
The Marshfield Area Coalition for Youth (MACY) has formed an ad hoc committee to research the effects of heroin on the community and possible methods for dealing with the issue. The committee has proposed a public education campaign, including presentations to local schools, billboards, digital marketing efforts, and social media marketing, to inform the community about heroin and its impact.
The campaign would cost $250,000 over five years with a proposed $50,000 being allocated to the law enforcement budget for 2015, the first year of the campaign. Municipal Judge John Adam Kruse spoke in front of the council Monday on behalf of MACY.
Mayor Chris Meyer and the council have voiced support for the project but at the meeting expressed a desire to see more data regarding the potential effectiveness of the campaign.
“I think that we need to have a better sense for what it is we’re contributing funds for. … We need to understand exactly how this (money) is going to be used,” Meyer said. “I don’t think anybody here disagrees that this is a huge problem that we need to do something with, but we also are talking about tax dollars that we want to make sure are being used in the right way.”
Meyer said that funding the campaign may require cutting other areas of the 2015 budget.
“The challenge is where does the funding come from for any project or initiative like this,” Meyer said. “This is not a budgeted item. This is something (where) you’re going to have to cut something else in the budget to find.”
Council member Rebecca Spiros said that producing hard evidence of how the campaign can be effective will be difficult.
“This is like a pilot program. This is something new. This is something the country has lagged behind doing,” Spiros said. “Asking (Judge Kruse) to produce empirical data before starting the program, … you’re not going to get that data. It’s a very new concept. It’s a very new program, but it’s very much needed.”
The council will look at funding the anti-heroin campaign out of the city’s contingency fund and potentially via cutting other aspects of the proposed 2015 budget. The contingency fund is designed to cover unexpected expenses or in some cases projects like the anti-heroin campaign that have yet to gain final approval but may at a later date.
Marshfield Area Pet Shelter
The city will not contribute the proposed $250,000 toward building a pet shelter in Marshfield for the 2015 budget. The project is estimated to cost a total of $1.2 million, with Marshfield Area Pet Shelter (MAPS) having raised $130,000 so far.
“The one-time contribution to MAPS of $250,000 that was suggested at our last meeting is impossible to fit into this year’s budget without really taking a lot of other stuff out,” City Administrator Steve Barg said.
Meyer added that even with the city’s proposed contribution, MAPS would be far away from its total funding goal.
“With our $250,000 they would be at about 33 percent of their goal. We can’t just give away $250,000 and say, ‘Good luck. We hope you’re successful,’” Meyer said.
The council voted to move consideration of contributing to MAPS to the 2016 budget and out of the 2015 budget.