City of West Bend Has Come a Long Way

Below is a letter that the Mayor of West Bend, Kraig “Sat-on-a-cow” Sadownikow, sent to the council. Watching the city has been a bit boring in the past few years precisely because they have just been being fiscally responsible and good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. Now we are seeing some of the rewards. West Bend is in infinitely better financial shape than almost every other city and the services provided by the city are still more that sufficient. It can be done. Kudos to the mayor, council members, and city staff for their leadership. I’d like to see some of this kind of leadership over at the school district and county…

Hello Council – I know municipal numbers are boring to most people, but the discussion last night about the City’s Fund Balance was really important. 

In 2011 and ‘12 we had an 11% Fund Balance.  This means 11% of our annual budget was in a reserve account for emergencies.  Moody’s Bond Rating Agency along with Baker Tilley, our Financial Consultants recommend a minimum of 17% otherwise our bond rating was in jeopardy.  These are not small dollars.  Each 1% equates to about $250,000.  Moreover many comparable municipalities are in the 25-30% range…….we really had a long way to go.

The Council took action in 2013/14, to put in place a policy that forced us to grow to the minimum of 17% and then requiring public action to drop below that amount in the future.  We hit 17% in 2015 and have grown to the 22% we are at now……..basically doubled our reserves in 4 years, adding about $2,500,000.  This was accomplished without raising taxes, while also increasing funding for Road Improvements by 40% over the same time,  while reducing City debt by over 20%, while maintaining a competitive salary and benefit package for employees and maintaining high quality services for our constituents.

Congratulations and Thank You to all of you along with our staff.  This work will begin paying financial dividends in the near future.

Additionally, I took a look at unemployment statistics recently and found that  November unemployment was 3.2%…….5th best of the 32 largest communities in the State.  Top 3 are usually Sun Prairie, Madison and Fitchburg due to UW and State gov’t…..we beat communities like Neenah, Appleton, Brookfield, etc.  In March of 2011 we were at 11.1% and 3rd worst in the State, only ahead of Racine and Beloit.

While the pure unemployment rate is better for everyone, the key in West Bend is our skyrocketing up the chart comparing us to other ‘large’ cities in WI.  Really good trend.

I know spending money is more fun than not and saving money is harder than buying new things but the decisions we have made in the recent past are putting West Bend in a better financial position for the future….hopefully the near future.  Because we have made sound financial decisions, the rebounding economy and increased development will compound our positive trends.

Every constituent, staff member, alderman and even Mayor has a ‘pet project’ or two that they feel strongly about.  Let’s stay focused on investing in items that have a long term benefit to the wellbeing of West Bend and are prioritized in order of Public Safety, Infrastructure and Quality of Life.

Thank you again for working hard to leave West Bend in an even better position than we found it.