On July 8th, CARW hosted the elected officials NextGen session. We were lucky enough have West Allis Mayor – Dan Devine, Mayor of Oak Creek – Dan Bukiewicz and Chairman of the Waukesha Country Board – Paul Decker join us. These three elected officials gave our NextGen’s a unique perspective on both the highlights in their communities as well as the challenges.
Paul Decker said it was extremely important to understand each municipalities strengths and weaknesses and realizes that every project is not a good fit in every location. He felt it is important to look at things from a county perspective and not pin various municipalities against each other. All elected officials believe in a regional approach to planning and work with the real estate community on the ‘long game’.
All three said their communities faced financial hardship due to COVID-19. This loss in revenue is already tough with tight budgets. Regardless of COVID, the dependence on property tax is very difficult for all communities. Many other states address taxes in other ways to accomplish infrastructure needs. In Wisconsin shared revenue is a huge component. Shared revenue is “the money collected by the state in sales tax, that goes to Madison and is supposed to be returned to the community where it is spent.” These funds continue to get whittled away as the state faces its own budget pressures.” Communities are also dealing with antiquated funding formulas that should be revised to appropriately fund schools and other projects. People in the development industry needs to help the elected officials push the state to take a look at these formulas and update them to current times. Forget the politics and get down to the economics and do a better job with the shared revenue.
Our elected officials represent a very important part of our communities, yet often times what they do for us is relatively unknown. A strong partnership between the elected officials and those looking to grow the community is essential.