Tag Archives: City of West Bend

Tax Raisers Take Over West Bend Council

Well, that was quick. After almost a decade of conservative governance and a mayor who kept spending and taxes in line, the tax increasers have been unshackled.

November 11, 2019 – West Bend, WI – The West Bend Common Council voted 5-3 Monday night to increase the mill rate to $7.85 per thousand dollars. That’s 6 cents per thousand more than 2019 and will raise taxes on residents whether their property increased in value or remained the same.

Those voting in favor of the increase were aldermen John Butschlick, Mark Allen, Steve Hoogester, Justice Madl, and Roger Kist.

Those voting against were aldermen Andrew Chevalier, Chris Jenkins, and Rich Kasten.

It’s not that they raised taxes. That might actually be necessary from time to time. But this wasn’t necessary. The city has the money sitting there in surplus that they could have used to keep taxes flat for another year. The council chose not to because a pervasive “we need to raise spending and taxes a little every year” attitude in the council now.

 John Butschlick, Mark Allen, Steve Hoogester, Justice Madl, and Roger Kist. You failed us. 

West Bend Common Council Appoints Interim Mayor

From the Washington County Insider:

November 4, 2019 – West Bend, WI – West Bend Common Council has unanimously voted to appoint Council President Steve Hoogester as acting mayor until the April 7, 2020 election.

According to City Attorney Ian Prust, said Hoogester can still retain his seat as District 6 alderman and he does not have to run for council again just by taking this post.

Prust said, should there be a tie vote on an issue, Hoogester has to notify the council ahead of time that he will abstain as alderman to make a vote as mayor.

City administrator Jay Shambeau and Prust said a tie situation would be extremely rare as a council member would need to be absent to create a situation for a tie vote to occur.

This seems like a good way to address the issue.

Picking an Interim Mayor in West Bend

From the Washington County Insider:

October 31, 2019 – West Bend, WI – On Monday, Nov. 4 the West Bend Common Council will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. The hot topic will be, Discussion on the Vacancy Created by the Resignation of the City of West Bend Mayor  2. Filling the Office of Mayor

On Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, at the West Bend Common Council meeting Mayor Kraig Sadownikow announced he was resigninghis seat effective immediately. Sadownikow stepped down citing a conflict between his business and his position with the City.

The state has a legal process on filling the vacant mayoral seat, which comes up for election April 7, 2020.

City administrator Jay Shambeau said filling the seat will “not be an easy answer to come to.”

There are several options on the table; the council can appoint the council president or an alderman or a citizen from the City.

Wouldn’t it be fun if they appointed Sadownikow as the interim mayor?

Mayor Sadownikow returns to private life after a job well done

Sometimes you don’t really appreciate something until it is gone. That about sums up how I feel about Mayor Sadownikow’s tenure as West Bend’s mayor. My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

When Governor Scott Walker lost, there was a real sense that something special had come to an end. I felt much the same way when I learned that West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow had resigned to avoid the reality or appearance of a conflict of interest. Mayor Sadownikow was a wonderful example of the citizen self-governance at its best.

When Sadownikow first ran for office, he did so to fix a problem in his home town. As the owner of a local design and build construction company, Sadownikow worked with municipalities throughout Wisconsin and knew first hand that West Bend was a difficult place to do business. He set out with a goal of bringing private sector principles into local government to get West Bend to move at the speed of business.

Up until then, West Bend was run like most Wisconsin municipalities. The local government denizens generally worked hard to not rock the boat. Taxes were steadily increased. The continual borrowing had put West Bend in the bottom 10% of local governments in the state in terms of debt burden. Businesses and homeowners alike chafed whenever they had to deal with local bureaucrats.

Mayor Sadownikow entered office with a fresh perspective of a first-time office holder who wanted to make his city serve the public better. He began by “asking questions that were never asked before,” as he is fond of saying. Through hard work and the cooperation of a conservative, engaged majority on the Common Council, Sadownikow began to change West Bend’s story for the better. The list of accomplishments is impressive for eight years in office.

[…]

There are already signs that West Bend is slipping back into its old ways. There is a band of Alderpersons who would rather go back to increasing taxes each year to avoid making hard decisions. The Common Council votes on the 2020 budget next week and we will know very soon how sorely Mayor Sadownikow’s leadership will be missed if the tax increasers get their way.

Mayor Sadownikow said, “Local government is not that hard. Maintain a safe community; look out for the future; and take care of the checkbook.” He certainly accomplished those three things and more. His successor should heed that advice.

Some Aldermen Push for Unnecessary Tax Increase

Take note, Benders.

Shambeau’s original presentation projected a $7.85 tax rate for 2020, which is the amount a property owner pays in city taxes per $1,000 of property value. At the Finance Committee, Shambeau was directed to rework the budget to hold the tax rate flat and use the fund balance to make up the difference. That after Mayor Kraig Sadownikow said there was about $500,000 left over in the budget.

At Monday’s council meeting, Alderman Justice Madl proposed returning the budget to the original presentation, including the 6-cent change.

The motion fell after the eight-member council tied on the vote, and Sadownikow voted against the motion.

Madl and Aldermen John Butschlok, Mark Allen and Steve Hoogester voted to revert the budget, with Aldermen Andrew Chevalier, Chris Jenkins, Rich Kasten and Roger Kist voting against.

“I don’t support making that change,” Madl said of using fund balance.

After years of work, the reserve fund is flush. There’s no reason to raise taxes so that they can keep adding to it.

Sadownikow Looks Back

There’s a nice story in the Washington County Daily News with West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow reflecting on his time in office. A couple of statements really jumped out at me:

“I am super proud that we’ve cut the city’s debt almost in half; we went from about $85 million in debt to just below $50 in debt now and still continuing to decrease, while we increased our savings account by over 300 percent,” Sadownikow said. “The actual cost of doing business in West Bend is lower now than in 2011 when I was elected, so we’ve been able to do some fiscally prudent things that allows us as a community to start investing in fun things, like the riverfront, that can make a quality of life impact because we did some belt tightening over the last five to six years or so.”

[…]

“Right after I was elected, one of our state politicians called to congratulate me and said, ‘Remember, all you have to do is make 50 percent plus one person happy to be successful in politics,’” he said. “I thought, ‘No way, I live here; I grocery shop in West Bend and I need to shoot a heck of a lot higher.’ “So hopefully a significant majority can look back and say, ‘whether I love or hate the guy, at a bare minimum he worked hard and worked honestly.’”

West Bend Mayor Resigns

From the Washington County Insider.

October 21, 2019 – West Bend, WI – Following a closed session during Monday’s West Bend Common Council meeting Mayor Kraig Sadownikow shocked administration and elected officials announcing he was resigning his seat effective immediately.

Sadownikow was first elected in April 2011.  He was reelected in 2014 and again in 2017. His seat is up for reelection in April 2020.

Sadownikow said in a statement:

“I will be resigning as Mayor at the end of the Council meeting tonight.  As you may know, I have been working hard to recruit a Marriott TownePlace and Office Building to the former Gehl HQ property.

The developers represent organizations I have worked with for more than 15 years on about a dozen hotels in multiple states along with also owning and operating office buildings together.

“I sought legal advice from the City Attorney as well as personally engaging two local law firms to give me their opinions on how to remain Mayor and have an active and personal role in the development.

None of the legal opinions are crystal clear and none of the advice sits well with me, except the option of resigning as Mayor so I am not involved with the upcoming City approval process.  I am having to choose between my business life and my service life.  In this case, the two scenarios cannot proceed together, and I won’t risk the good reputation of either by operating with any ambiguity.”

 

Sadownikow is president of American Companies in West Bend.

Wow. Sadownikow has been an excellent mayor who has done much for the City of West Bend. His leadership will be missed. I understand the reasoning behind his resignation. While I firmly believe that no corruption took place, Sadownikow’s decision to remove even the possibility of the appearance of corruption protects both himself and the city’s reputation.

Thank you for your service, Mayor Sadownikow.

Now it is time for someone else to step up.

West Bend Alderman Rich Kasten Announces Run for Mayor

Good stuff.

Kasten issued a statement to washingtoncountyinsider.com on Wednesday afternoon.
Residents of West Bend,
After careful consideration and discussion with my family, I am very proud to announce I will run for Mayor of West Bend.
Being able to serve the residents in West Bend as Mayor is something I have long aspired to and while I appreciate Mayor Sadownikow’s leadership and achievements, I truly believe this is the right time.
I have served as an Alderman the past six years and during that time, we have made great strides in repairing our fiscal challenges. As Mayor, I pledge to continue improving the financial position of the city, providing excellent public safety and improving infrastructure.
I look forward to sharing more details with voters as my campaign progresses. In the meantime, please share in my excitement and enthusiasm as positive things are ahead for West Bend. I look forward to meeting and talking with you over the coming months!
The current Mayor, Kraig Sadownikow, has not announced whether or not he is running for reelection. I have appreciated Sadownikow’s leadership at the city. Kasten has been a big part of that over the past several years. He would be a suitable successor if Sadownikow decides to return to the private sector full time.

City of West Bend Deciding Budget & Levy

Since we’re in the budget season all over, this story in the Washington County Daily News slipped past me earlier this week. It’s an interesting debate:

The city’s Finance Committee met Monday, and heard a presentation on the preliminary budget for 2020. City Administrator Jay Shambeau presented a balanced budget, totaling $24.25 million in revenues and operating budget expenses. Of that total, preliminary budget documents showed $15.88 million would come from taxes.

“No fund balance is applied to make this budget balanced,” Shambeau told the Finance Committee, explaining all expenses were covered by revenues without needing to dip into reserves. Shambeau’s presentation projected a $7.85 tax rate for 2020, which is the amount a property owner pays in city taxes per $1,000 property value. That would have been a 6-cent increase from the current $7.79 rate.

However, the Finance Committee meeting ended with Shambeau directed to rework the budget numbers to use a flat tax rate, held at $7.79, by using about $160,000 in carry-over funds.

Mayor Kraig Sadownikow said during the budget discussion that last year, there was about $500,000 left over in the budget – money that was budgeted for various expenses, but ended up not being needed for those items. He said his rough math showed that the 6-cent increase would produce about $160,000 in additional tax revenue.

Sadownikow asked if it was reasonable to expect that this year’s budget would have at least $160,000 in leftover money to carry over to next year, which Shambeau said would be likely, as the current budget as a whole was tracking similarly to last year’s budget.

“We did a good job of running the county, we have some dollars left over. Let’s not raise taxes when we already have the money,” Sadownikow said.

Sadownikow clarified that he was not asking for any expenditures or budgets to be cut. He only felt that the tax rate should be held steady when the city has leftover funds to cover some expenses, rather than bringing in additional taxes, given that the city also has healthy reserves.

“We’re basically taxing people to put money in a savings account. We encouraged that for a long time because it (the fund balance) was painfully low,” Sadownikow said.

He said that seven or eight years ago, the city’s fund balance was around $2 million. Now, budget documents show the reserve funds are at almost $8.8 million.

Here’s the deal… The city budget has a 2.99% spending increase in it. The vast majority of that increase is coming from Public Safety – fire and police. That’s because the new contracts are kicking in that includes a pay increase. The pay increase was negotiated because they deserve it, but also because the city is no longer paying the healthcare for retirees for new employees. The city traded predictable, budgeted pay increases to get the taxpayers out of a massive, long-term unfunded liability. It’s good policy.

Anyway, the increased spending along with less state aid than the city expected is pressing a property tax levy increase of 1.68%. As the budget was proposed, the city would simply raise the levy to meet expenses and be done with it.

The mayor, on the other hand, pushed back and advised that the city use some of its unspent money from last year’s budget to lessen the tax increase. For years, the city has been run well and put surpluses into a reserve fund. The reserve fund is used to keep the city’s bond rating up, but as a practical matter is there for emergencies and unexpected expenses. The mayor is saying that the reserve fund is sufficient now, so we can just push some of the surplus money into the next budget instead of taxing the citizens more.

I agree with the mayor on this one. The money is sitting there in the city’s coffers and the city has sufficient reserves. Instead of raising taxes, the city should take advantage of its good fiscal management to minimize the tax increase. There will still need to be a tax increase of about 1%, but that’s better than 1.68%.

Open for Business?

This is the kind of stuff that really annoys me. From this week’s Around the Bend:

The West Bend Plan Commission reviewed the redevelopment plan for 1610 W. Washington Street, formerly home to Pizza Hut. A representative for Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins was called before the Plan Commission to answer questions about parking, signage, and traffic.

[…]

Mario – What you’re seeing with this building is new for Dunkin and new for Baskin. This is a national brand that wants to make some identification, so you have the big slogan “America runs on Dunkin” or “West Bend runs on Dunkin.” The other slogan is a catchy phrase – in the past we’ve had situations where the facades become open and blank and the criticism is can you do something to break it up.

We break up the building with materials we see, and we are open – if it’s concerning, we don’t want too much going on but we do want something.

Sara Fleischman – I agree need to break it up but I won’t support the slogans. I won’t give my vote if slogan stays on the side.

[…]

Plan Commission member Chris Schmidt – I agree with Sara – not to add slogans on signs of buildings.

I get that the folks on the Plan Commission are doing their job by looking at plans and making sure that everything is kosher, but come on.

For a little bit of background, Washington Street (HWY 33) through West Bend isn’t some pristine real estate. It has its fair share of old strip malls, gas stations, older houses, empty lots, etc. It looks like any other street in almost any town in America. The property that Dunkin is wanting to replace is an old Pizza Hut that’s been empty and degrading for years. Like several old properties on that street, it’s just a dumpy old abandoned property with grass growing in the driveway.

So when a national chain comes in and wants to replace that dilapidated eye sore with a brand new establishment, I’d prefer that our city representatives say “thank you” and “how may we help you?” Sure, make sure the plans are safe and not a 40-story strip club or anything, but let them build the building they want. It’s their money and they want to spend it in West Bend. Who the hell cares if they have their slogan on the sign? It’s not the job of the Plan Commission to micromanage the aesthetics of every property in the city.

West Bend to Add New Industrial Park

Excellent.

WEST BEND — The city could pay nearly $3.15 million to buy a swath of rural property off its southeastern border for a future industrial park — something city leaders have said West Bend needs but that some neighbors have said they don’t want.

The Common Council on Monday night approved a purchase agreement authorizing the city to pay $20,500 an acre for the targeted roughly 153.5-acre plot near the corner of River Road and County Highway NN.

Closing on the sale could take place in January, and Mayor Kraig Sadownikow noted the final sale price could depend on the land’s precise acreage,

which has yet to be officially platted. The seller, meanwhile, would keep a small portion of property near the River Road-County NN intersection.

City Administrator Jay Shambeau had previously said West Bend would combine the newly acquired land with a neighboring 63-acre parcel the city annexed earlier this year. That would give the city room for a new, roughly 215-acre industrial park — which Shambeau and other city leaders have said West Bend badly needs.

Of course, this is not without controversy. There is a lovely little neighborhood next to this parcel. It is farmland now and contributes to a nice, quiet, rural-like neighborhood. That will change when there are a bunch of light and heavy industrial businesses popping up. That’s a shame, but it’s no reason to retard the city’s growth. This particular site is ideally located with easy access to the interstate, a railroad spur, and across the street from several other businesses that run semi trucks up that road all the time.

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!

 

City Leaders Express Regret for Funding Brainstorming Project

I remember casting an askance eye at this when it happened. I don’t remember if I wrote about it. Essentially, they paid $10,000 to have a bunch of college kids brainstorm ideas for our downtown. Of course, they don’t have any grounding in business, finance, etc. It was just a bunch of young adults sitting around saying, “wouldn’t it be cool if there was…” fill in the blank. I’m far more interested in the ideas from people who live and work in our downtown and would directly benefit/lose from the decisions made. Skin in the game and whatnot…

WEST BEND — Members of the Downtown West Bend Business Improvement District expressed some buyer’s remorse when they reviewed some of the ideas the high school and college students generated as part of The Commons group.

“I would just like to echo the thought that I think we overpaid in hindsight for this opportunity and that we should be more careful next time that we consider this sort of brainstorming activity,” Alderman Michael Christian said, who is also a member of the business improvement district.

Officials paid almost $10,000 for the opportunity to host students to develop ideas for improving the downtown. The idea was borne from a meeting during the first months of 2018 when board president Mike Husar requested Economic Development Manager Adam Gitter obtain a record of the vacant spaces, along with the businesses that occupied the buildings in the downtown.

That idea morphed into a more comprehensive project to generate general ideas for improving the downtown.

Chickens Come Home to Roost in West Bend

I know, I know… on the headline… groan. I couldn’t help myself. In any case, the West Bend Common Council will be taking up changes to the chicken ordinance tomorrow. The Washington County Insider has the details:

Jan. 6, 2019 – West Bend, WI – Here we go again. Monday night, Jan. 7 the West Bend Common Council will address the chicken issue as aldermen vote on changes to the ordinance and whether to finally allow chickens in the community.

The issue was tabled at the Dec. 17, 2018 meeting. Aldermen had some questions and there was extensive discussion. Click HERE to read more and watch the meeting video.

Changes were made to the proposed ordinance (see below) or click HERE for item 8. Monday, another vote will be taken on the issue.

The changes would essentially allow city residents to keep up to four hens (no roosters) in a coop on their property after getting a permit from the city. The City would notify neighbors of the permit request – presumably to give them the opportunity to protest against the permit if they want.

For the life of me, I have no idea why people get so exercised by chickens. This seems to be have been a rolling controversy in community after community as some city residents want to grow their own food. Chickens are just a step beyond having your own vegetable garden. But controversial it is…

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care if people want chickens. It is their property and they can do what they want with it as long as it does not interfere with someone else’s property rights. We already have nuisance laws, so the need to license and regulate chicken coops seems idiotic and a waste of taxpayer money to me. There will only be a handful of people who actually try to raise chickens (I’m sure several will try, realize what a pain it is, and quit shortly thereafter). If it becomes a problem, then deal with the individuals accordingly.

Conservative leadership works

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. For those who say that I never have anything good to say about government, well…

Most often, good government is boring government. For the better part of a decade, the goings on at the city of West Bend have been boring. The city has paid off debt, kept spending and taxes down, increased the fund balance, improved the city’s bond rating, controlled costs, etc. — all while maintaining and improving essential services and tackling a couple of big projects. Boring? Yes. But it is precisely the kind of boring that is the hallmark of good government.

Read the rest by picking up a copy or signing up online!

West Bend Mayor Weighs in on Dark Store

Nice story.

WEST BEND, WI—Kraig Sadownikow doesn’t look like an anti-corporate crusader. The mayor of West Bend, Wisconsin, stickers his pickup with a “Don’t Tread on Me” snake on the back window, a GOP elephant on the hitch, and the stars-and-stripes logo of his construction company across the bumper.

His fiscal conservatism is equally well billboarded: In the two hours we spent at City Hall and cruising West Bend in his plush truck, Sadownikow twice mentioned the 6 percent he has shaved off the Wisconsin city’s operating budget since becoming mayor in 2011, and stressed its efforts to bring more business to town.

So you might be surprised to learn that Sadownikow (he instructed me to pronounce his name like sat-on-a-cow) is personally boycotting two of the biggest big-box retailers in his town, Walmart and Menards, the Midwestern home improvement chain. He’s avoiding shopping at these companies’ stores until they cease what he sees as a flagrant exploitation of West Bend’s property tax system: repeat tax appeals that, added up, could undermine the town’s hard-won fiscal health.

Sadownikow is one of many unlikely combatants who have lined up against “dark store theory.” That’s the ominous-sounding term that administrators have given to a head-spinning legal argument taking cities across the U.S. by storm. Big-box retailers such as Walmart, Target, Meijer, Menards, and others are trimming their expenses in a forum where few residents are looking: the property tax assessment process. With one property tax appeal after another, they are compelling small-town assessors and high-court judges to accept the novel argument that their bustling big boxes should be valued like vacant “dark” stores—i.e., the near-worthless properties now peppering America’s shopping plazas.

 

What the Heck is a “Negative Savings”?

Heh

WEST BEND — After 12 months of collecting data from employees and their families regarding the onsite health clinic, officials have received information they hope to use to mitigate rising health care costs for their workforce.

Sara Stiefvater, the client operations manager, along with Regional Medical Director Dennis Schultz, both from Quad Medical, presented results of the operations for the onsite health clinic Monday to members of the Common Council.

[…]

She also provided information regarding the clinic’s profitability when combined with Washington County since the clinic is shared between their employees.

In the aggregate, officials experienced a negative savings for the first year by slightly more than $22,000. The total estimated savings was about $332,000 while the expenses, which includes staff as well as the payment to the vendor for operating the clinic, was about $355,000.

That’s the oddest way to say that… “experienced a negative savings” of $22,000. In the real world, we would day that it “costs” $22,000. This is significant because the whole point of the county and city providing a clinic is to bring down the overall costs. Otherwise, it’s just an additional benefit to government employees.

The impact the clinic will have for the city and county, at least in terms of savings and cost, is significant because that is the primary reason that administrators and leaders established one.

The clinic opened during the summer, marking the completion of a project that required about two years inthe hopes of slowing the increasing rate associated with health care costs.

“Over the course of three years, the projection is about $1 million (saved),” Human Resources Director Todd Scott said during a July 2017 interview. “It is really going to be based on participation. How many people use the clinic and what type of services. That is where the savings is going to come from.”

If the goal is to save $1 million in three years, then the clinic needs to save $511,000 each of the next two years. I don’t see that happening.

That being said, I would consider the clinic a success if it saves some decent amount each year. For example, if it saves the taxpayers $50,000 per year and provides a better healthcare alternative to employees, then it’s a net benefit worth keeping. If it is just going to be another perk for employees that costs taxpayers even more, then it fails to meet its stated justification and should be shut down.

Let’s give it another year and see how it goes.

Conservative Fiscal Management in West Bend Bears Fruit

Here is a portion of a column from the Mayor of West Bend that ran in the Washington County Insider:

Two weeks ago the Council was presented with our annual Financial Audit prepared and presented by Baker Tilly.  Recent Councils have taken action to improve the financial stability of West Bend.

In 2011, reserves stood 30% below the minimum recommended level for communities our size.  At the end of 2017, we are 53% above the minimum and nearing our goal level.

From a debt standpoint, we owed over $83,000,000 in 2010 and have reduced that number by 31% down to $57,000,000.  Our advisors and bonding agents recommend continued debt reduction but applaud our recent efforts.

As a community, we should be proud of the progress made the past 8 years and the stronger financial position we are currently in.

I would add to that story by pointing out that the City of West Bend has managed to lower its debt, increase its reserves, remodeled City Hall and the Police Department, met the city’s needs, and did so without raising taxes in YEARS. I think we are up to 9 years now without a tax increase in the city. They have been able to do all of this thanks to conservative leadership and taking advantage of Act 10.

This is what solid conservative fiscal leadership looks like. The Republicans over in Madison and Washington should take note.

Major Upgrade Planned for Regner Ball Park

What a great boon to West Bend!

May 21, 2018 – West Bend, WI – The West Bend Common Council emerged from closed session Monday to confirm a plan is in place to provide funds in a matching grant for improvements to Carl M. Kuss Field at Regner Park.

The deal includes a healthy grant from the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.

“The schools district went out to get a $500,000 grant from the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and that’s a game changer for the project,” said West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) approved by the Common Council will be official once the other organizations approve it.  According to Sadownikow, the decision was “easy” from a financial perspective.

“What it entails is $100,000 in cash from the city and there will be at least $75,000 in work we can do with demolition to the existing field and knocking down the grandstand,” said Sadownikow. “We spend somewhere between $60,000 and $75,000 a year to maintain the field so by eliminating that we’re paying for our investment in two to three years.”

Sadownikow praised the West Bend Baseball Association for donating “tons of time and energy” with money and scoreboards and field work. “I’ve been involved in five years of discussion, but getting the $500,000 grant is very important and what the MOU recognizes is $175,000 from the City of West Bend,  $100,000 from the West Bend School District and $35,000 directly from the WBBA.”

The remaining balance of the first $500,000 will be privately raised.

Couple Thoughts on Local Election Results in West Bend

Now that I’m back in town and have had a few minutes to look at the election results, I have a few thoughts on the local races. Here are the Washington County Results.

First, turnout in Washington County was impressive for an April election. Some races on the ballot pulled in 42% turnout and the county average was about almost 37%. Not bad.

Second, congratulations to Chris Zwygart and Kurt Rebholz who won convincing victories for seats on the West Bend School Board with 38.45% turnout. And thank you to Monte Schmiege for his service to the community. As I said in my column, I think that the four candidates are pretty conservative and would find agreement on probably 90%+ of issues. I have a high degree of confidence that they will be solid stewards of the school district. It is curious how different the results were with the same four candidates in the primary election. Clearly, a lot of work happened between the primary and the general election.

Third, I am flabbergasted that the City of West Bend voters voted FOR a tax increase to fund spending increases for transportation. Granted, it was for the cheapest option and it only won by 110 votes, but that’s shocking in this community. They also voted to encourage the county to share sales tax revenues with local communities. That makes more sense.

I’m going to admit that I didn’t really have any time to figure out the the aldermanic or county supervisor races. I did find it curious that the two incumbents for the Kewaskum School Board won reelection. That district just passed a big school referendum, so it appears that the voters up there are still pretty satisfied with that.

Overall, the Blue Wave we saw at the state level clearly had an impact locally too. Given the results, I would expect every local unit of government that wants more money to get a referendum on the November ballot to capitalize on the wave.