Crossing guard staffing will remain at current levels after a threatened cut of $10,000 in the crossing guard budget put two positions in jeopardy.
The Budget Committee, working with a little more money than it expected — state funding came in higher than anticipated — restored the funding last week on a 4-3 vote.
Alderman Joel Tilleson argued against the cut in funding, as he has before, seeing his district as possibly losing at least one guard from a low-use site. He spoke against the presumed cut of $10,000 that appeared in the executive budget without a discussion of how it would be achieved.
"My concern is that by pre-emptively approving a cut it's essentially giving the committee direction," he said.
Just because a crossing point has low student use doesn't mean a crossing guard isn't needed, Tilleson said, adding that low use does not equate to less danger.
The issue was confused by the recent appointment of an ad hoc committee on the crossing guard program, appointed by the mayor. The committee won't report its findings in time to make recommendations for next year's budget. Alderman Jeff Roznowski, a member of the ad hoc committee (though not of the Budget Committee), said the group should be able to find a way to save the 4 or 5 percent in the budget without trouble, and is exploring broader options, including moving the program in-house, using volunteers, and/or other changes.
Without a firm recommendation, Tilleson moved to keep the program fully funded. He said it should be studied more thoroughly for next year.
Aldermen Peter Donegan, Tim Hanson and Craig Wilson voted "no," while Aldermen Donald Birschel, John Dubinski, Alderwoman Jill Organ, and Tilleson voted "yes."
A public hearing on the budget, and council action, will take place next month.
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