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Fox Point Trustee Candidates Concentrate on Budget Crunching

As village faces big deficit, and both incumbents and challengers agree big cuts are likely.

Fox Point Village Board candidates agree that creativity is going to be the key when it comes to reacting to deeper-than-ever budget cuts.

Trustees Don Zien and Bill Warner and challengers  Christine Symchych and Kevin Behl are vying for two seats on the board in Tuesday's election.

The state Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that with Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget, which is still pending in the Legislature, Fox Point will lose 50 percent of its municipal aid, and 15 percent of its transportation aid, for a total loss of $137,400.

Facing those kind of numbers, the candidates the Village Board is going to have to make some tough choices soon.

"You have to make these decisions like it’s your own money and then it becomes pretty simple," Zien said. "You can’t spend money you don’t have. We have a lot of luxury in the village that we take for granted, and it can’t go on forever."

"We’ve got the budget down to where it’s bare bones," Warner said. "We’ve cut everything we possibly we can, we’re working off of very little room. With Walker's cuts of up to 50 percent, and freezing the levy limits, were going to really have to tighten our belts even further."

But each candidate is worried about the cuts that are coming down the pike. As , Fox Point has cut as many small items as possible to avoid any changes that would dramatically affect residents. But at this point, with such major funding limitations, village officals are going to have to look at larger items, and the candidates agree.

"We’re going to need to make some difficult decisions with regard to what we’re able to provide in the village, and how we’re going to provide it," Behl said. "That’s going to require starting over at ground zero and looking at everything."

"Spacing out and eliminating non-essential services, there's a little room there," Symchych said. "You can only space out things like maintenance so long. We're being told to do certain things, but not given any money to do them. You have to look at an evaluation of services – where can you give a little in order to save a lot?"

The candidates agree that the village needs to look at the budget from top to bottom and not just rely on previous budgets. That kind of fresh look at the numbers could help provide some creative answers to Fox Point's budget crunch.

Trustees serve unpaid three-year tearms.

THE CANDIDATES

Kevin Behl

Key quote: "I want to make sure there’s some sort of plan that maintains services like the Fourt of July parade and the pool."
Professional/educational background: Executive director of Madison Medical Affiliates; board president of East Town Association
Related experience:
Member, Milwaukee Business Improvement District;  board president of the Cathedral Women's Center
Family:
Married with two children
Age:
43
Address:
700 E. Daisy Ln.

Christine Symchych

Key quote: "We’re facing incredible budget decisions. One of the things that makes the village special is the intense service that we get."
Professional/educational background: Municipal planner. Bachelor's degree in art history from Carleton College; two master's degrees, one in architecture and one in urban planning.
Related experience: Trustee on the board of directors of the Milwaukee Art Museum, and co-chair of the public affairs committee.
Family: Single; no children
Age:
41
Address: 
7240 N. Barnett Ln.

Bill Warner

Key quote: "The people of the village of Fox Point really love the services we have, and in order to keep those, we’re going to have to look at ways to cut back."
Professional/educational background:
Retired health care administrator. Bachelor's degree in history from Milton College, with a minor in political science
Related experienceFox Point Village Board trustee
Family:
Married with one child
Age:
69
Address:
413 E. Willow Rd.

Don Zien

Key quote: "You have to make these decisions like it’s your own money, and then it becomes pretty simple. You can’t spend money you don’t have."
Professional/educational background: Commercial real estate broker at CB Richard Ellis. Majored in economics and communications at UW-Madison. Completed post-graduate work at Milwaukee School of Engineering.
Related experience: Fox Point Village Board trustee; member of Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals
Family:
Married with two children
Age:
57
Address:
6406 N. Berkeley Blvd.

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