Fiscal Responsibility and Transparency in the City of West Bend

Meanwhile, at the city

During the April 1 council meeting aldermen unanimously adopted a new debt management policy that recognizes the city’s concerted effort to pay down debt.

“It does not bind and cannot bind future councils to borrow money or make financial decisions,” Sadownikow said. “What it can do is put a policy in place that recognizes the work that’s been done the last eight years to reduce the city’s overall debt.”

“Our goal is not just to be in the middle but to be a minimum of 10 percent better than that,” said Sadownikow. “If we want to develop a new industrial park, we may have to go into debt for a period of time to do that but the policy requires a public two-third vote to make that happen.”

The overriding theme of the policy, according to Sadownikow, is communication with the community.

“The idea is complete transparency,” he said. “Open discussion and community involvement, education, and advanced knowledge will be taking place if we’re going to break the debt policy.”

Sadownikow said the reason they adopted the new debt management policy was because city leaders realized how hamstrung they were with $84 million in debt.

“I get people in the grocery stores and others coming up to me saying ‘you can’t cut taxes forever.’ Well, part of that is true but, just like at home if you pay off your house you suddenly have $500 or an extra $1,000 or $2,000 to spend on other stuff…  that’s what we’ve been able to do in West Bend,” he said.

Reducing the debt, according to Sadownikow, means about $3 million to $4 million in principal and interest payments that the city can now use to invest back into employees, parks, and roads.

“We wanted to gain more financial independence to make other decisions around the community,” he said.  “Zero debt is a good idea but very few of us can own a house or a car if you didn’t utilize your own common sense and fiscal management.”

It’s wonderful to see this kind of leadership and responsibility in our city government!