Tag Archives: City of West Bend

West Bend Police to Send Officers to Milwaukee for Convention

Call me less optimistic than Chief Meuler about Milwaukee officials supporting the police. I’m very wary of putting West Bend’s finest in harms way to protect another city’s residents. Perhaps some other city leaders will weigh in.

West Bend Police Chief Kenneth Meuler said he remains committed to sending about a dozen officers for the effort.

“I am confident that Chief Morales and city officials will work out an agreement to address the concerns that some of the other chiefs have raised,” said Meuler, a former Milwaukee Police Department captain.

West Bend Cancels Summer

The Common Council is cancelling summer events in public parks. More From the Washington County Insider:

All community events in West Bend Parks are cancelled for summer 2020.

On Monday, May 18, West Bend City Administrator Jay Shambeau presented a resolution to the Washington-Ozaukee County Public Health Department Blueprint for reopening Washington and Ozaukee Counties. The resolution passed on a 7-1 vote with Alderperson Mark Allen voting against. The Blueprint does not allow for community events, therefore, West Bend Biergarten, German Night and Regner Fest have all been cancelled for the summer of 2020.

And a bit more from the Washington County Daily News

The Common Council created a resolution stating that the city will follow guidance from the Washington Ozaukee County Public Health Department. This includes the Blueprint to Reopen and FAQ relating to the blueprint. The resolution encompasses future amendments and guidance to reopening services and activities.

In addition, the city will acquire all guidance from the health department in reviewing all permit and license applications, including special event permits, block closing, parade permits and temporary Class B beer license applications

So I think this means that they will be using their permit power to restrict businesses, but there isn’t any other enforcement. The Ozaukee Washington County Health Department says:

If you choose to reopen your business, you are not in violation of Safer at Home or orders issued by the health department. Under the direction of the Ozaukee County Board Chair, the Ozaukee County Administrator, and the Washington County Executive, the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department will issue no countywide orders limiting the public or businesses at this time in response to the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in our counties. The health department will address any localized COVID-19 outbreaks on an individual basis and continue to provide follow up for positive cases and contact tracing. We urge you to refer to our Blueprint FAQ for recommendations on how to safely reopen our counties. Email covid19@washozwi.gov if you have any other questions.

What does all this mean? I’m not really sure. I think that the West Bend Common Council may revise permits with different compliance requirements in line with the Blueprint. Then, if a business violates the permit, they can pull the permit.

We’ll see how this is implemented in real life, but it is incredibly disappointing that the strong majority of the West Bend Common Council and the new mayor are looking to micromanage businesses. Where am I? Madison?


UPDATE: Here is a comment from the mayor:

No, the Council’s adoption of the County blueprint does not affect anything to do with private businesses. We also did not “cancel everything” throughout the Summer. This simply gave health guidance to our municipal organization as a whole. Splash pad will be open. Parks are open. We are looking at ways to hold fireworks (just as Kewaskum and Hartford are). We are working with non-profits to help them draft ways to hold events (like Germanfest). And, most importantly, as with every organization, this is an ever-evolving situation. We wouldn’t cancel events that are 2 months away, as who knows where things will be at by then.

West Bend Continues to Bow to Madison as Hartford Propels Forward

This is a disappointingly sheepish position.

While remaining open, West Bend has complied with the Safer at Home Executive Orders throughout all departments and is actively preparing for the Badger Bounce Back plan. “West Bend takes great pride in being a business-friendly community and we’re committed to supporting businesses throughout this process,” said Mayor Christophe E. Jenkins. “We’re actively working with businesses to propel them forward.”

The Police Department has worked with citizens and businesses to educate them on the Safer at Home Order and to seek their voluntary compliance. West Bend businesses have been directed to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) for clarification and questions on compliance regarding the State’s Emergency Health Orders. In a number of cases, WEDC was able to guide businesses to remain open in compliance with the orders. The City is grateful for the understanding and support that citizens and businesses have shown.

Business owners who have specific questions or concerns regarding the Safer at Home Order may contact WEDC. Residents may contact their state legislators.

I would have hoped that the City of West Bend would have taken a more muscular approach to protecting our rights and supporting the local economy.

Randy Koehler Throws Hat in for District 4

Koehler is a solid choice for West Bend.

April 15, 2020 – West Bend, WI – The West Bend Common Council will be in a familiar situation in the coming weeks as it looks to fill a vacancy in District 4.

Earlier this week unofficial April 7, 2020 election results showed Chris Jenkins winning the mayoral post for the City of West Bend. Jenkins had been alderman in Dist. 4.

In the past the Council filled a vacancy by appointment. As of Tuesday afternoon, there was already one candidate in the mix as Randy Koehler contacted the city clerk.

Koehler has past experience with the city; he was the alderman in Dist. 4 from 2011 to April 2015. Koehler always maintained a strong conservative stance and listened to his constituents. Koehler was also popular with city staff, visiting individual departments and learning how the city worked.

Koehler’s term ended when he lost his seat to Jenkins in 2015.

Rich Kasten for Mayor of West Bend

I had intended to write my column for this week about the various offices on the ballot, but the pandemic took precedence.  With the April election being impacted by Coronavirus, I hope you are all voting early or absentee – just in case. Next week’s column will cover several races, but with the word limit, it will be necessarily light on explanation for each race. I think that several races require a fuller discussion, so here we go…

There are two candidates for West Bend Mayor: Rich Kasten and Chris Jenkins. Both of them are currently Aldermen for the city. I wrote a column a couple of months ago with some details on their backgrounds. After a lot of thought, I voted for Rich Kasten (yes, I already voted).

I like both men. They are both conservative, smart, pragmatic, and passionate about serving the community. They have both been assets on the Common Council and helped lead the city in a positive direction. For me, the decision came down to two factors.

First, Kasten is a bit older and more experienced. I worked with him years ago on a task force of some kind and he’s been my representative on the council for years. I’ve seen his patient, thoughtful work first hand. I’ve seen him get things done while building consensus along the way. He’s just been around a bit more; seen a bit more; and experienced a bit more. I have found occasion to disagree with him from time to time, but his decisions are always well thought out and rooted in conservatism and the best interests of the community.

Second, and this really came into clarity for me with the Coronavirus shutdown, Kasten works in the private sector and has for decades. His coworkers are in the private sector. His friends work in the private sector. He sees and lives with the consequences of government action and inaction every day. Particularly as the people and businesses of the City of West Bend recover from the government-forced recession, I am more comfortable with a Mayor who is living it like the rest of us. I have no doubt that Jenkins’ heart is in the right place, but he only worked for a short time in the private sector. He currently works for a government and serves/has served in multiple government positions. As conservative a someone might personally be, being a government employee brings with it a different mindset.

Rich Kasten has been a great Alderman and he’ll be an even better Mayor of West Bend.

West Bend to Choose a New Mayor

Since the blog was down on Tuesday, I forgot to post this. Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier in the week.

The citizens of West Bend will choose between two candidates for mayor on April 7. Rich Kasten and Chris Jenkins are both conservatives on West Bend’s Common Council. I supported both candidates when they ran for city office. Both candidates have committed to continuing the trajectory of conservative leadership in West Bend. Where they differ is on experience and priorities.

Chris Jenkins is a 2007 West Bend West graduate, husband and father of five children, and earned degrees in theology and political science. Jenkins has been active in the community and his church throughout his adult life. After working in the private sector for a few years, he accepted the job of the village administrator, clerk, and treasurer for the village of Elmwood Park in 2018. Jenkins also serves as the president of West Bend Early-Risers Kiwanis, president of Musical Masquers, public affairs specialist for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the elected positions of District Four county supervisor for Washington County and District Four alderman for the city of West Bend. He is not running for re-election for county supervisor and he has another year left in his term as alderman.

If elected, Jenkins has said that his focus will be on launching a collaborative community-driven process to refresh the city’s strategic plan modeled after the Value Task Force used at the dawn of former Mayor Kraig Sadownikow. From there, Jenkins is committed to fiscal discipline and conservative leadership. Rich Kasten graduated from Marquette University with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1991 and moved to West Bend with his wife 21 years ago to raise their three children. Kasten has worked in the private sector in technical and management roles having spent the last 11 years at a Wisconsin cheese company. He is finishing his third term as the District Five alderman for the city of West Bend (my current alderman) where he chaired the Finance, Public Works, and Long Range Transportation committees. As alderman, Kasten earned a reputation as a fiscal watchdog with a deep knowledge of the underlying data. He also worked on the team to negotiate union contracts on behalf of the city, volunteered for the West Bend Crime Prevention Patrol, and worked on a Citizen Financial Advisory Committee for the West Bend School District.

If elected mayor, Kasten wants to work with Washington County on a plan to share the county sales tax with municipalities and leverage his experience on transportation issues to develop creative ways to stretch the city’s transportation and infrastructure dollars. Like Jenkins, Kasten wants to get more members of the community involved in developing the city’s strategic direction.

Since there are only two candidates, there will not be a primary election for mayor. Each candidate will have until April 7 to make his case to the voters. As we look forward to the next chapter in West Bend’s history, there are challenges and opportunities that the next mayor will need to tackle.

West Bend has been a city in transition. Since the manufacturing heydays of the 1970s and 1980s, the city’s economy has blossomed in the financial services and technical industries. With the recent annexation of land for a new industrial park on the south side, the next mayor will need to be a passionate and effective ambassador to lure businesses. Part of that will be ensuring that the city’s core infrastructure remains satisfactory.

Another area of focus should be preventing crime and punishing criminals. The West Bend police do a phenomenal job, but their jobs are getting harder. West Bend is not a sleepy Mayberry. It is a vibrant community with people moving in and out of it to work and play. The highways that connect us to the rest of the state also serve as conduits for criminals, drugs, human trafficking, and other contagions to augment the local criminal element. West Bend needs to be proactive and energetic in ensuring the safety of the people and property of West Bend.

The city has done a good job in the last several years of putting the city’s fiscal house in order. The mayor and Common Council have dramatically lowered debt, improved the city’s bond rating, kept spending and taxes stable, and avoided the worst of the long-term unfunded liabilities. But that was after decades of increasing spending, increasing taxes, and running up debt. It only takes one vote to squander years of good fiscal management. The next mayor must never relent in protecting the taxpayers from the worst impulses of people who relish spending other people’s money.

Chris Jenkins or Rich Kasten will have the privilege of leading West Bend into what could be a transformational decade. It won’t be easy. Who is ready for it?

Tax increasers take control of West Bend

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a taste, but go buy the meal!

After years of fiscal restraint and conservative management of the budget, the tax increasers have regained control of the West Bend Common Council. Property owners in the city of West Bend will see their first tax increase in almost a decade. Why? Because they could.


Facing a $151,100 increase in projected expenses next year, the 2020 operating budget that was just approved by the Common Council would raise taxes to meet those expenses and put the forecasted 2019 surplus into the already well-funded reserve fund.

In short, the Common Council chose to raise taxes when they did not have to. There is more than enough tax revenue to fund the city budget, but they are going to raise taxes anyway.

Council members Andrew Chevalier, Chris Jenkins, and Rich Kasten (who is running for mayor of West Bend) voted to not raise taxes. The city of West Bend needs more council members like these.

The Common Council members who voted to raise taxes were John Butschlick, Mark Allen, Steve Hoogester (who is also serving as the interim mayor), Justice Madl, and Roger Kist. These are the men who chose to raise taxes when it was not necessary or justifiable. Butschlick’s and Madl’s seats will both be on the ballot in April. If they choose to run for re-election, the voters should remember who voted to raise their taxes.

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


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.