Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hunter-gatherer Wannabe Tamarack Song Gives Business Advice To Tiny Town

Thanks to a series of letters to the editor that Tamarack recently has written for the Vilas County News-Review, we can see there is no pole dance Dan Konen won't do to get money and attention. Remember as you read the business advice about trucks and budgets Tamarack is giving the citizens of Three Lakes, Wisconsin, that this is the same fool who has students at his glorified fat farm out foraging for berries and roadkill to feed themselves so that they can be more hunter-gatherer.

We've said it once; we will say it a thousand times. Tamarack makes his living off tourism and tax breaks, not hunting and gathering. He calls himself and his cult "natives" yet ignores the oppression of real Native Americans because they aren't hunter-gatherer enough. But budgets and trucks and town planning (yes, TOWN planning) are not a problem as long as the town is run by whites and will give him the attention he so desperately craves.


Good budget ideas rejected in the heat of hearing
Dear Editor:

An open letter to the citizens of Three Lakes:

Now that the dust has settled on the Nov. 29 Annual Budget Meeting, I’d like to offer a few comments. I think the budget, as a whole, was solidly engineered and a credit to the members of the town board and involved citizens. They stretched the limited available revenues to cover, not only necessary services but some of the unique features that make Three Lakes a special place to live and visit. Just as importantly, they dedicated resources to the future vision of our community.

There is yet one area where we could improve — town planning. This was brought to light over the issue of the new trucks needed by the road department. Two trucks were requested. The board decided to write one into the budget as a cash purchase and perhaps purchase the second one next year.

At the budget meeting, John Olkowski made a motion that we purchase both trucks this year by financing them. He emphasized that financing major purchases is sound business practice. The motion carried.

There was only one nay vote, by Supervisor Dave Hapka. And there were several abstentions — I was one of them. It wasn’t that I disagreed with Olkowski, because he brought up a valid point (along with several other good proposals). My concern was that when major issues come up, we have a habit of often either making knee-jerk decisions or the discussions degrade to shouting matches.

I think we need to show more professionalism. With an ever-increasing annual budget and new services being demanded by an expanding leisure-recreation population, Three Lakes is growing and we need to grow with it.

We have a great group of wise, experienced and dedicated people; we just need to learn to work together. We have to listen to the voices of all our citizens, whether we like what they have to say or not. Diverse opinions are needed to keep us sharp, make sure we are considering all angles and meeting all our citizens’ needs.

In the case of the trucks, the momentum of the moment buried Hapka’s voice, and I think we are all the poorer for it. Both Hapka and Olkowski had good ideas that should have been given adequate research and consideration. Also, we should have consulted the Wisconsin Towns Association for advice. Their expertise, based on the experience of the state’s 1,266 towns, is always available to us.

How could this be accomplished? One way is with a one-time focus committee, comprised of those who have interest and expertise on the issue. The committee would research the issue, pass their information on to the town board, perhaps with a recommendation, and then disband. The board would then be adequately educated so they could make an intelligent and informed decision.

Were I on the truck purchase committee, here are the considerations I would have brought up, based on my experience running five for-profit businesses and 30 years’ involvement in the nonprofit sector:

Nonprofit and for-profit corporations need to be budgeted and financed differently. A principle of for-profit business is to use someone else’s money, for two reasons:

• The interest is tax deductible.

• Unspent money can be reinvested to increase profits.

This does not apply to nonprofits, because they don’t pay taxes. The interest comes out of the nonprofit’s pocket, which in this case, is the taxpayer’s pocket. Because a nonprofit is not in business — it does not reinvest to make profit — the saved money is usually allocated to goods and services. This artificially inflates the budget, which is near impossible to bring back down in line in following years. The upshot: the more money that is borrowed, the bigger the budget grows.

Simultaneous purchases of the same piece of equipment are usually not recommended; they are staggered because:

— replacement will then be staggered, which spreads out capital outlay and maintains a stable budget;

— varying-aged aged equipment keeps maintenance at a constant, rather than peaking and bottoming, as with same-aged equipment; and

— overall fleet reliability is maintained.

I welcome talking with anybody who would like to explore ways of improving the management of our already good-running town.

Tamarack Song

Three Lakes

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