This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.


There was no reason for a Franklin school property tax levy increase this year.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in October that the Franklin School District got an increase in state aid of $800,332.

It didn’t matter.

The Franklin School Board voted to approve a 2.9 percent school property tax levy increase.

School Board members Debbie Larson, Jeff Traylor, Judith Bialk and Melissa Klein voted for the 2.9 percent increase even though:

1) We’re in a recession.

2) The rate of inflation has been around 1 percent.

3) The Franklin School District got an increase in state aid of over $800-thousand.

4) The farce of an annual electors meeting had a 10-10 tie vote for a tax increase.

5) There are plenty of FOR SALE signs all over town.

Linda Witkowski and Janet Evans voted no. David Works was absent.

The Milwaukee School Board voted to CUT their levy by 0.8 percent. The Franklin School Board worse than MPS? Sad but true.

FranklinNOW found a few residents who get it:

“Others have opposed any property tax levy increase, saying residents can't afford it due to the economy. ‘You are running a business with our dollars, and we are concerned about how you are spending them,’ resident Donald Reed told the School Board during the district's annual meeting in August.”

Finding Franklin school budget information online is virtually impossible.,  a web site dedicated to government transparency, graded the Franklin school district’s web site a D-.

t was another bad year for the administrators of our school district.

In May, the following e-mail was sent from Christopher and Beth Mantoan of Franklin to all Franklin School Board members, Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor and Franklin Alderman Steve Olson:

Dear Franklin School Board members, Mayor Taylor and Alderman Olson-

When I returned from work today, we had this wonderful surprise in our front lawn.

We are hoping that included in the highly-discussed budget that was passed, allowing the almost- $1 million fiber optic project to move forward, was money to reimburse our family for a new front lawn (professionally seeded and re-graded, not a 20-minute patch job) and for the first application of our lawn care service that also occurred today. We realize this may (and I'm being generous) be Franklin's property, but Franklin did not install, nor pay for, our professional landscaping job 7 years ago, nor does Franklin water or mow our lawn, or take care of the general upkeep of our yard.

We would have appreciated some notice, as we could have at least prevented the lawn care service from coming out today. We would appreciate this monstrosity removed from our front lawn immediately and a written letter stating all reimbursements as requested above will be made from the Franklin budget. 

We are appalled after paying over $8000 in taxes this past year this would be allowed to happen.

Please contact us to discuss prompt resolution of this matter.


Christopher and Beth Mantoan

Alderman Olson replied:

I'm sorry for the trouble that you and others are experiencing with this project.

Be aware that this project is being paid for and run by the Franklin Public Schools without notice to the homeowners affected. I'll be happy to help in any way but at this point suggest that you address your immediate concerns to your school board members and the school district administration.
The City of Franklin was not involved in the planning or execution of this project.


There's more.

Olson got a phone call from a very angry former Franklin
alderman, accusing the city of cutting power to the house. Workers had cut a cable through a hole that's marked for power. This was happening at Franklin properties as part of the school district's wasteful, whopping $800,000 fiber optic project that was approved in their latest tax-increase budget.

Lawns were ripped up and destroyed and power was cut off and to make matters worse, no Franklin taxpaying homeowners were notified that workers with heavy equipment would be descending upon their properties.

$800,000 and not a single penny to send out a letter, e-mail, or telephone call warning of the impending destruction.

And how about those 

The Franklin School District intelligentsia gets the public all lathered up by painting the picture of crumbling structures and kids that will be forced to sit in trailers (yeh, right) and sports teams that  will be worse than the Bad News Bears unless you, yes you, struggling taxpayer, open up your wallet for the millionth time and fork it over.

They think they’ve got your number. They will send out sob story of a survey, one after another, begging for just the right answers, and when you politely, innocently tell them, you bet, we’d love to see an improved this and a new that……..BAM!  They’re introducing proposals to raise taxes by a bundle to build and/or improve all these facilities THAT YOU THE PUBLIC DEMANDED.

FranklinNOW reporter Mark Schaaf noted, “Many have complained about the state of Franklin's athletic facilities.”

Yeh, I know. That’s a heartbreaker.  Major frustration.

Being the sports-minded fellow I am, I commented to my wife, Jennifer what a crummy season the high school baseball team had.

The football team? Struggling. Just struggling. Year after year.

I think the boy’s soccer team made the playoffs this past fall. Yes, yes, I think I’m right. Did you know they only managed three goals....... against an MPS team? Now, you build two more soccer fields and we won’t be embarrassed like that ever again!

And the high school basketball teams, boy’s and girl’s…….it’s no wonder they haven’t been to state for a few years. It’s you cheapskate taxpayers. All your fault.

At first I urged residents to "Toss the survey in the trash where it belongs."

A few days later, I had a change of heart.

There it was in my mailbox.

What the hell, I thought. I paid for it. Might as well open it up and take a look.

The survey was stunning in its lack of transparency, written and presented with an all too obvious woe is us, we must tax to the max mentality.

We learn that a study was conducted this past summer of the conditions and use of our school facilities, and whad’ya know??? OF COURSE our facilities are going to hell in a hand basket. Those poor, poor, children. Whatcha gonna do about it, Franklin taxpayers? Let us give you some idea$.We’ve got all kind$ of option$ about the middle $chool, the high $chool, a $wimming pool, performing art$, indoor and outdoor phy$ical education and athletic $pace, and a community center. My oh my, we sure need a lot.

I took out my trusty calculator, and let’s suppose a resident decides to support every one of the spending options, including the most expensive choices. That translates into spending an incredible:

$235.4 million

I urged Franklinites to fill out the survey by checking all of the NO or NONE OF THE ABOVE choices. The Franklin School District was setting a big, fat trap for you taxpayers.

The final results showed this non-shocker: About 70 % of school district staffers support big spending on all kinds of new facilities.

Finally, during 2010, Franklin Superintendent Steve Patz applied for a similar position in Wausau. Though he was a finalist, Patz didn’t get the job.

1) ?
2) ?



This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Page Tools