Should city pay for sidewalks, tree removal?
It’s reasonable to argue that the city of Janesville should foot the bills for sidewalk repairs and removing diseased or storm-damaged trees on terraces. The trouble is, that could add to property taxes at a time of state-imposed caps on tax levies.
The argument is reasonable and the two seemingly separate costs are intertwined because the city technically owns the land where sidewalks are built and trees grow on terraces.
If the city would pay out of its general fund to not only repair sidewalks but also install them, how is that fair to taxpayers who’ve already been forced to pay for their own sidewalk installations?
City leaders will include these topics when budget talks begin in October. With the emerald ash borer likely to kill thousands of terrace trees in the next few years, costs of cutting down trees could be more than that of keeping sidewalks repaired. The trouble is, those costs could require more property taxes than state-imposed caps would allow.
You can expect lively debates this fall. Which way should the city turn?
We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Sunday.