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Mayor proposes 2022 budget, city council rejects pipeline resolution

The good week, bad week and other news round up for the week from our Oct. 21, 2021 issue

By John McCracken

Green Bay city hall. John McCracken photo, Staff photo edit

Editor’s note: Hello and welcome to the first (digital) installment of “Good Week, Bad Week.” This section is a brief collection of interesting news happenings from the greater Green Bay area in the days leading up to our print publication. We are not making a judgement call on things that are “good” or “bad.” We are hoping to present hard news a digestible format while keeping with the playful tone that makes Green Bay City Pages your favorite (and only) alternative weekly in the area. Questions, comments, concerns? Email [email protected].

Good week for: Fans of 216-page city financial documents

Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich released his proposed 2022 city budget this past week. 

The budget proposes a 1% increase to property taxes. the city’s mill rate. 

In a statement accompanying the proposal, Genrich said Green Bay’s population growth and economy are in a good place. 

“Our city’s population grew by 3.5% to 107,395,” Genrich said, “making us the second fastest growing city among the state’s five largest communities. And our unemployment rate, spiking in the spring of 2020, has now receded to 3.6%, indicating an economy near full employment. These data points all indicate a community that is poised for continued economic strength.”

Genrich said that nearly half of every dollar levied to provide services to the citizens of Green Bay is devoted to police and fire. 

Additionally, Genrich proposed the reclassification of the Green Bay’s Human Resources Director position into a Chief of Operations role, increase the city’s contingency fund for unexpected spending from $150,000 to $200,000, hire an additional city attorney to assist the department and hire a conservation corps coordinator (partially funded through grants) to increase the city’s greenspaces and parks. 

The Joint Finance Personnel committee will take up the proposed budget at a Nov. 3 meeting. The full city council is expected to take up the budget at a Nov. 9 budget meeting. The full budget proposal can be viewed at www.greenbaywi.gov/2022budget.  

Bad week for: Green Bay residents who oppose the construction of Enbridge Energy’s lines 3 and 5 tar sands oil pipeline

A resolution to oppose the construction of pipelines which transport crude throughout Northern American and Canada failed on the city council floor at a Tuesday, Oct. 19 meeting. 

Line 3 and 5 are not located within Green Bay, a sentiment echoed by residents who urged alderpersons to vote against the resolution, which was referred to city council by downtown alderperson Randy Scannell.

Shane Griesbach, a Hortonville resident and member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39 who said he was speaking on behalf of his coworker and Green Bay  resident Donald Socha, said the jobs created by pipeline projects help middle class families and workers.

“Fossil fuels are still needed for everyday life and function,” Griesbach said. “It is not realistic to shut down all pipelines. I am sure most of us drove here tonight.”

Griesbach urged the council to vote against the resolution saying it was full of “broad, sweeping allegations and declarations.” 

Justice Peche, a Green Bay resident and Wisconsin Native Vote Fellow for the environmental advocacy group Wisconsin Conservation Voters, said Enbridge shows a clear pattern of negligence for preventing past and future pipeline leaks, which could endanger the health of the greater Green Bay area. 

“These lines directly threaten Green Bay’s waters, public health and economy, Peche said.”Line 5 has spilled over 200,000 gallons of oil and natural gas in the Menominee River watershed which feeds the Menominee River and empties into Green Bay.”

Scannell said he brought forth the resolution because it will affect Green Bay specifically due to Line 5’s proximity to the Straits of Mackinac and the Great Lakes. 

“Do we want to risk polluting the Great Lakes, which definitely affects us,” Scannell said. 

West side alderperson Chris Wery said the resolution didn’t make sense for the city to make a decision on. 

“This isn’t really our place,” Wery said. 

The resolution failed 1-8 with Scannell as the only yes vote and alders Lynn Gerlach and Jesse Brunette abstaining. 

Seven Afghan refugees come to Brown County with help of local agencies

After the fallout of the United States military leaving Afghanistan at the end of August, roughly 13,000 refugees were relocated to Fort McCoy on the other side of Wisconsin.

Officials believe around 400 refugees will call Wisconsin home in the coming months.

At a panel discussion hosted by St. Norbert College on Monday, Oct. 18, Wisconsin Bureau of Refugee Programs Director Zoric Martinez said the state will help figure out education, housing and medical pathways for refugees.

Catholic Charities of Green Bay Director Karmen Lemke said Brown County has already welcomed seven refugees and have recently offered to resettle up to 49 people.

Lemke said the most urgent needs are secure housing and language interpreters.

Said Hassan shared his experience of coming to the country and being vetted as a refugee himself.

Hassan is the president and co-founder of Community Services Agency Inc. (COMSA), a Green Bay-based refugee and immigrant resource center.

“It’s a very painful process,” Hassan said. “It’s very vetted.”

More details and contact information for Catholic Charities and COMSA, who are a part of the refugee resettlement process in Brown County, can be found at www.catholiccharitiesgb.org and www.comsausa.org.

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