Senior Taxi Funding OK'd for 2013, but Jammin' Faces Cuts

Aldermen say the popular senior program has merit, but the summer street festival can do with less funding

The Muskego Senior Taxi will continue to receive funding from the city in 2013 at the same level it has in past years, but Jammin' on Janesville will likely face a cut.

Meetings at the Committee of the Whole Tuesday, aldermen asked questions of representatives from the taxi service, which provides low-cost rides for Muskego seniors, to determine if they would continue to approve a $5,000 request for funding in 2013. The organization started about six years ago and has received city funds every year since.

At issue was not whether the program was a benefit to the city, but rather how the city should categorize funding for this and other community organizations and services.

"There are a lot of other organizations that would appreciate the same consideration," said Alderman Dan Soltysiak. "I'm not talking about necessarily cutting funding, but creating a pool of funds. I don't think anyone here would disagree that Senior Taxi does a great service, I'd just like to open up the opportunity to others."

Soltysiak has proposed developing a program that would offer funding to various community organizations seeking help, if they meet certain criteria. However, Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti and Alderman Neome Schaumberg said they felt that discussion to create such a program would have to be held separately and for the 2014 budget.

A poll of the committee left the funding in tact for 2013, with Alderman Kert Harenda voting no because he wanted to initiate discussion on Soltysiak's proposal first before alloting any funds.

Similar discussion for Jammin' on Janesville indicated that the city would be less generous for the festival, which is organized by the Chamber of Commerce.

Tina Weiss, executive director, clarified that the overall budget for the festival was $43,000 and the city's funding portion of that was $19,000. She told the committee that a good portion of their budget in 2012 also went to fund sponsorships for nonprofits throughout the run of the festival. 

In addition, she provided the committee with surveys taken after the 2012 events, with more than 50 percent of the businesses stating they had seen customers come from Jammin' on Janesville.

However, several on the committee felt that there wasn't enough data to show that businesses were indeed helped or saw profits as a result of the events. In addition some cited that the funding provided to the Senior Taxi represented only 6 percent of the service's total budget of $85,000. The chamber's request of $19,000 represents about 44 percent of its budget for the event.

"I want to feel comfortable funding this, and I need more data from the businesses to see what impact this event has had," said Alderman Rob Wolfe.

While all of the aldermen agreed the event should receive some funding, the amounts varied widely. Alderman Rob Glazier had suggested $2,500 to $5,000, while Alderman Neil Borgman said he felt the original understanding was that the need would be for three years, and the city should continue funding at $19,000.

Asked what impact the cuts would have on the 2013 events, Weiss said the chamber may opt to cut out the nonprofit funding sponsorships that were a part of this year's events, cut back on marketing and possibly cut out one of the three events. Weiss also explained that after construction was over, it's likely Jammin' on Janesville could become a completely different event, with perhaps only one scheduled festival planned during the summer.

In general, it appeared that $10,000 would be the number in 2013's budget, but the decision was delayed for the next meeting.

Greg Burmeister September 26, 2012 at 11:39 AM
I feel this is worthwhile, especially with all the fun driving everyone is doing on Janesville this year. I don't think that 2012 should be a comparison year, since a lot of folks, myself icluded, just didn't feel like dealing with Janesville Road anymore than I have to. Next year when the Lannon and East portion are done, would be a much better way to find out what benefits businesses will derive from it. There is the potential for more businesses to open up along that patch of road, excluding the Parkland Mall site, (which I hope Art Dyer can choke on!) and then there would be less hit and miss places to visit. I think the Chamber of Commerce should be more involved and have their members really show up what they have to offer. What if vendors and others could set up booths or tents/ tables to display and sell things(similar to St. Martin's Fair.) How about booths for crafters? I think the potential for these events, has only scratched the surface and the rest of the iceberg is still waiting to be discovered. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was the seed that grew into a real DOWNTOWN in Muskego. And then the festivals could be self sustaining!
Denise Konkol September 26, 2012 at 01:52 PM
That seems to be the goal for Jammin'. As construction ends and the 'brand' of the festival is pretty set, there will be less need for the extent of marketing that has been done. As Weiss mentioned, they may scale back to a once-every-summer event. Truthfully I know this is a huge undertaking for the businesses, who do pay out for bands and other entertainment, so they may as well be ready to ease up once the road is complete.
Gregory Kluck September 26, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Jammin' could well function as a one time event. Probably at a central location, it could be a great asset to Muskego.
Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce September 27, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Gregory, great thought, but not that is not the purpose of the Jammin events. The purpose was and continues this year to be: to make guests and our community aware of businesses on the Janesville Rd. corridor. This was part of a toolkit to help businesses survive during a very difficult time of road construction. We can go to the community festival for what you are describing. We do not want to be a community festival. We want to showcase the City of Muskego and all its businesses and organizations in an interactive way, showing all who attend what we have to offer. This in turn brings economic development and increased awareness. Many connections were made because of the Jammin events. Business to business, neighbor to neighbor, organizations to community and much much more. I would hope our community and city officials could see the benefits of such an event.


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