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February 27, 2008


Bryan Maersch

How do you think this will affect the ever rising property taxes in Franklin and especially referendums to build new schools in Franklin?

Lets not forget the shortfall the State is talking about in state revenue and cutbacks to the state budget due to those shortfalls.

Will Franklin voters, approve an increase in their property taxes via a referendum, if they are having problems with paying their home payments?

Franklin City leaders are worried without the additional tax burden and a local shortfall. Home building is coming to a crawl if not a stand still.

They are saying however that they are at that magic 70 - 30 mix of houses to business, with the all new commercial building going on 27th street.

Or is all this going on elsewhere, in Charlotte, North Carolina or Elk Grove, California and not here?

John Michlig

Bryan, welcome to PAYBACK for suburban sprawl. And what is payback? Well, it rhymes with "rich," as in "payback's a _____."

"Magic 70 - 30 mix"? The answer is not a number, it's a METHOD. And right now the "method" is tilted toward developers.

"Home building is coming to a crawl if not a stand still"? Not really - look a couple hundred yards east of your house. Ask yourself how developers and builders can continue to enrich themselves in this market. Ask yourself why the home-building market is only NOW compressing (slightly) after over a year of market turmoil.

Follow the money.

By the way: What was our Director of Community Development's position before he took the job here in Franklin? You'll find that of interest, especially since he oversees the Franklin Plan Staff.

Greg Kowalski

Well and I'll also add that anything in the Franklin Business Park and 27th Street do absolutely NOTHING to help residents on the tax complaint citizens talk about the most:

Franklin Public Schools.

FYI Bryan: Your workplace pays OAK CREEK/Franklin Public Schools tax dollars, not the system your children go to.

That's a HUGE problem, and Franklin basically subsidizes the office, medical, and commercial development in that sad fashion - by providing TIFs and other breaks for development that will NOT do any plus for FPS.

Maybe you should talk to your favorite Alderman about that, and see what he says.

When I spoke with other officials, the best I could get out of them was an acknowledgement of the situation and that, "The businesses pay City taxes."


The question nags: How can anyone STILL think that this sprawled out system of development is sustainable?

In other news: Gas expected to hit $4 a gallon soon - - while we sit on our hands regarding sane transit options.

If we were forward thinking at all, we would be mustering enormous effort and, yes, PUBLIC FUNDS to create a comprehensive transit infrastructure in advance of the crisis to come.

Bryan Maersch

Greg, you are absolutely right. Looking at the Milwaukee County property tax statistics, Franklin property taxes in the Oak Creek - Franklin School district are dead last (the lowest even with their substantial increase this year).

Your alderman Steve Olson has said he would embrace Franklin breaking off from Oak Creek. But that would mean our School Board getting off of dead a** and doing something. Steve has stated there are three ways for us to get out of our agreement. It would require the State of Wisconsin agreeing to it.

If you recall a couple of years ago, several families that were close to the Whitnall School district and wanted to go to Whitnal HS. FPS would not let those people out of the agreement (that was just a few families).

Your alderman Steve Olson said, that we could see quite a fight from Oak Creek should we want to pull the cash cow from their schools. Will our new School Board have the guts to try for this again.

Why don't you call your friend Mary, on the School Board, to find out.

Greg Kowalski

Yes well unfortunately people in Franklin are opposed to doing much of anything for our children - even some residents that have children in FPS as we speak.

You see, in order to grab back land from Oak Creek/Franklin, we need to have a gameplan put in place for the all the new students that will be put into FPS after the transition.

Hmmm...that means a referendum for new schools - something that you oppose, Bryan.

Mary, I'm sure, supports bringing back FPS to areas now controlled by Oak Creek/Franklin. Unfortunately, what are we going to do with all the extra kids in an already overcrowded school system?

I think you need to run and talk to your friend Steve again and tell him and his buddies to stop attacking the School Board.

Bryan Maersch

Greg, we are talking about the here and now. The present economy. You know, the number one topic of the Presidential Election.

Which brings us back to the topic being discussed and the last paragraph of John's posting.

... If gasoline and heating costs continue to rise, conventional suburban living may not be much of a bargain in the future. And as more Americans, particularly affluent Americans, move into urban communities, families may find that some of the suburbs’ other big advantages—better schools and safer communities—have eroded. Schooling and safety are likely to improve in urban areas, as those areas continue to gentrify; they may worsen in many suburbs if the tax base—often highly dependent on house values and new development—deteriorates. Many of the fringe counties in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, for instance, are projecting big budget deficits in 2008. Only Washington itself is expecting a large surplus. Fifteen years ago, this budget situation was reversed.

So Greg, let's go ahead and increase taxes by building a New High School to bring the kids into the 21st century with more debit on people striving to make ends meet. Because we can't build on to what we have now, as my kids (and your sisters) can't learn in a remodeled and expanded building, only a new one like Mary tells us we need. Jim Ward even equates higher ACT scores to building a new High School. If that is the case then your grades and ACT's must not have been too good after going to school in that old crappy High School back in 2005.

You see we need to believe Mary, because she feels we are too dumb to understand that new means better, according to her e-mails. Lets blame our school woes on the Franklin Common Council (aka the Axis of Evil) as they are in bed with the developers.

Lets forget that their is an ever increasing amount of foreclosures including in Franklin, WI.

But heck Greg, Franklin does not need those kind of people anyhooo and after all I don't really want my kids to succeed.

Greg Kowalski

Hey Bryan - actions have consequences!

Action: The pro-development Council stopped at nothing to, well, PROMOTE development - including residential.

Consequence: our School District is on the brink of overflow because there's not enough room for all the students.

Action: Franklin wants land back from the OC/Franklin School District.

Consequence: More students on top of an overburdened district.

Action: Referendum needed to build/remodel/expand schools.

Consequence: Republican operatives with no children more concerned about money to spend on vacations rather than helping the community - therefore pushing the community to reject any referendums the Board wants to see passed.

Action: Referendums fail.

Consequence: We can't get the land from OC/Franklin. Heck, we're treading a fine line with 40+ new residential developments going in.

That IS the Common Council's fault.

Sorry that the "axis of evil" School Board has nothing to do with whether or not development in the City gets approved.

Bryan Maersch

True Greg - Actions do have Consequences.

Action: People don't want development in the Civic Center because it is an eyesore to their McMansions.

Consequences: The developers go to other parts of the city that happen to be in the Oak Creek Franklin school district.

Action: The economy goes into recession, gas prices, food, clothing, everything goes up.

Consequences: Those 40+ new residential developments sit and sit and sit and sit. This is not "Field of Dreams - Build it and they will come!"

Come on Greg, you are a business student.

Read what John is saying, what I am saying. If we have empty, houses and the economy is bad. How many people will support a new referendum? Most of the school board and candidates are now having to talk what programs are on the chopping block, not which school is going to get built.

I look forward to your comments about the Council if Kristen wins. Will they be just as critical?

Greg Kowalski

Action: Strip malls are being built in an area dubbed a Civic Center.

Consequence: All the fine retail and dining choices Franklin residents WANT are tossed aside, due to the fact that upscale retailers don't want to locate themselves in a big box strip mall.

Your action/consequence about residential development is right on the money. So, why the heck did our "fine" Common Council approve of all of them, seeing this happen? I thought our "conservative" Council was supposed to have this keen insight and predict the future for Franklin when it comes to these "great" and "spectacular" developments.

So the homes sit empty, and strip malls dominate. Is that classified as a Top 100 community to live in, in your eyes, Bryan?

It seems someone has truly blinded your vision to make sure their talking points got instilled in your memory.

One more thing I think you forget about development in a Civic Center District - everyone wants to their community get the best in the area that's dubbed their place to hang out, have fun, talk, mingle, and shop...not just the McMansions across the street. I don't think you truly realize the positions you take only because you like the people that came up to you because you got a blog. Heck, I was in the same position when I first started blogging, but then I began to realize that supporting my community was a lot better than serving a pro-business, ultra pro-development Alderman's special interests.

I remind you: Look at those who signed the petition for a better Target - over 50% were from OUTSIDE the McMansion neighborhoods. Look at the situation now, with the buildings propped up. You still can sit there and be comfortable saying, "This is GREAT for Franklin!"?

Sorry if I care about my neighbors and community to actually take the bold positions and open myself up to criticism from people like you. But hey - I found out something, and that is I like what I'm doing, and I don't plan on going away anytime soon.

Bryan Maersch

Well Greg - I guess we will BOTH be around to disagree for a long time.

The way you blog, the North side is Nirvana (ie. Bayshore) as the Mecca of all developments.

I would have thought as soon as you got the chance, you would move out of this development hell hole and move to one of those ideal locations.

Personally, I don't have the time to be that idealistic. I have a house to pay for and keep up, taxes to pay, food to provide, along with all the essentials that my family needs to live. That in addition to taking my kids to activities, school events, help them with their homework, support them in their day to day lives. Meanwhile trying to keep a 83 year old mom living in her home by herself. Just like the of my fellow Franklin homeowners.

So you go ahead make your bold positions and push for that beautiful Target, Wallmart and Cheesecake factory to make a difference in Franklin.

Basically the rest of us are too busy.

Greg Kowalski

Ha ha, Bryan. That made me chuckle.

Too busy? You?

Currently, the northern Milwaukee suburbs DO seem to have some things together and their minds set straight on development. However, suburbs like New Berlin, Cudahy, St. Francis, and even Oak Creek seem to be moving towards that "nirvana" faster than Franklin.

I wonder why that is...

It's idealism that keeps this country alive and well, with debates and promotions that actually have people think and ask questions. That's what Democracy is all about - ideals. If you strip away that basic right, then what is it to be human?

One doesn't have to do much to have idealistic thoughts on development. I can help my family take care of my 84-year-old grandmother, take my sisters to basketball and volleyball games, drive my mom to doctor appointments, work 2 jobs, and help run a business.

Oh, and I run 2 blogs and serve my community on the Environmental Commission.

I think it all boils down to the basics: People want better dining and retail options in Franklin. People want someone (or some group) to take these bold positions because of "business" on their part. However, people are also beginning to see that it doesn't take that much time to do a little Google searching and a little driving around town to see who seems to have their development hats on straight and who doesn't.

Bryan Maersch

Greg - Don't talk stupid. You have no idea as to who I am or what I do in my life.

Indirectly what you are saying is your step dad just sits on his ass!


HEY now! Dial it back a bit, both of you - - I assign you to read my William F. Buckley Jr. blog entry and watch the YouTube video of him and Gore Vidal before one of you threatens to "sock you in your g__damn face, and you'll stay plastered."


Greg Kowalski

John, thanks for the reminder.

It seems some issues can't have a two-way conversation anymore. It's a true shame.

Bryan Maersch

John - Greg is right, it shame that there can't be an opposing opinion any more with out it getting personal.

Janet Evans

Hi, Fellas!

Just a comment about the School Board...since I go to the meetings and write down every word said...

At the last three meetings I have attended it was stated clearly that there is no plan for another referendum soon. Dr. Patz has no plans for one and the Board has no plans for one. They make it sound like a year or two...but we'll see.

So no sense talking a referendum.

And why would Whitnall or Oak Creek be so stupid to give up parts of their school districts (tax dollars/students)?

Unless they would be forced by the state, it would just be bad business.

Amazing how a little thing like "transportation" back in the old farming days caused the problem. It just made it easier for bussing. Franklin just didn't plan ahead.

Greg Kowalski

Hey, for once Janet and I agree! This world can be bright on some days!!

Unfortunately, the City of Franklin already knew the 27th Street corridor was part of the Oak Creek/Franklin district when they decided to make the corridor into a mecca of businesses - something highly demanded for the FPS District.

Also, they plopped the Franklin Business Park...or at least most of it...within the OC/Franklin District as well.

Then to really seal the deal, they TIF em all! That really keeps the commercial developers AWAY from the FPS Distict and crowded around lands in Franklin that help Oak Creek's schools.

Oh, and then when a TIF gets mentioned as a possibly to lure better commercial development at the Shoppes at Wyndham Village, within the FPS District, the Mayor shoots it down saying it's not necessary.



This is a case where the comments section is way more interesting than my original post.

That's good information, Janet. I hadn't been aware of the fact that a new referendum was so remote.

Also, while we have the benefit of hindsight, I can see how some of these situations may have slipped under the radar at the time they occurred. However, in other cases it appears that Oak Creek ate Franklin's lunch, so to speak.

Bryan Maersch

Janet - Thanks for the clarification as to why Oak Creek - Franklin and Whitnall is not really an option on the board along with the referendum delay.

I think most people would agree that the 27th street corridor needed to be developed as it has been nothing less than a magnet for no-tell motels and family style restaurants.

If Northwestern Mutual had not come along and started the business development on 27th street who knows what Paul Bouraxis would have developed on the 41 Twin site as John posted on his Golden Coral blog.

I wonder if the other business developments would have progressed this far with out NM starting the trend. I don't think they consulted with the city or the school system as to where they would like NM to build their new campus as it was a business logistics decision.

I would guess that as the developers that are going ahead with their plans don't really care who's school district they are in. They do care how easy it is to get to their location,the easy access to I94, the freeway and the airport. All of which the 27th street corridor has.

The last time I talked with Randy Ritter of the Planning commission, he did say all of the 27th street corridor is in OC - F school district but that only 1/3 of the Business Park is in the Oak Creek - Franklin School district.

One last disturbing thing that I keep hearing over and over again. That the more business development we have here in Franklin and the more expensive houses we have built here in Franklin, the less money we will get from the state for our schools. So it seems like a damned if you do and damned if you don't proposition for school funding. But a great deal for the City of Franklins budget.

Greg Kowalski

Businesses and developers also flock to areas where plenty of financing is available. TIFs provide this.

Where are the TIFs located...

And I've been in discussions with residents and a Franklin Alderman, which was confirmed that 2/3 of the Business Park was in the OC/F School District.

Regardless of the percentage, it's more businesses and commercial/industrial development that's aimed at helping OC schools, not Franklin's.

Why don't we TIF areas in Franklin that would benefit FPS? It seems residents, like yourself, WANT to see less dollars on your tax bill go to FPS. The only way that would seem to occur is if there's more commercial/industrial development within FPS. Also, more density in certain areas - aka not having a single home sit on 1 acre of land - would help ease the burden on residents.

But once again, that's a Council decision to make. It doesn't seem this Council seems to realize the hole they're digging for their constituents, especially when they try and tout "lower taxes" as one of their primary goals.

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