Mayor Dave Cieslewicz made one final proposal at the meeting last week. He wants the city of Madison to withdraw from the Alliance of Cities, a statewide lobbying group.
"Because the alliance is such a large organization, it's difficult for us to be very well heard," he says. "We might be better off having our own [lobbyist]."
Moreover, the Alliance has lobbied against bills the city supported, including a provision to give property-tax exemptions to low-income housing providers. Cieslewicz says the group "represents a large number of cities, so there will always be different points of view." The group currently represents 40 Wisconsin cities.
Madison spends about $40,000 a year to be part of the Alliance. Hiring an outside lobbyist instead would save about $10,000, says Cieslewicz. He adds that having a city lobbyist would be especially useful if Democrats take back the state Assembly this fall.
"I haven't invested too much in the Legislature because it's always had one Republican house that would stand in the way of anything Madison wanted." But if the state had a Democratic governor and Legislature, the city may be able to snare more shared revenue and transit aids. "It's probably time to get more serious about it."