Dear Village President Jeffords, Board of Trustees, Village Staff, and members of the community,
As the Village gets ready to embark upon a new year, it is hard to not be filled with a sense of optimism for our community. This year's "Citizen Budget" outlines the priorities for the organization and how we plan to efficiently and effectively utilize our resources to provide our citizens exceptional quality of life and community offerings, all while showing fiscal restraint and managing our finances for the future. Staff produces this version of our Annual Budget for the sole purpose of helping to inform the community on municipal operations and provide a blueprint for the goals and objectives set forth for the upcoming fiscal year. By making this document available to the public, we in turn, increase our own level of accountability to the Board and the people we serve, the taxpayers.
Next May, I will have been with the Village for eight (8) years and since that time I have seen many changes within the community. Several new subdivisions have been created, businesses have relocated to Richfield and some of those that currently call our Village "home" have even chosen to expand. One of the highest organizational priorities we have as a Staff is completing the Village's Zoning Code Recodification in 2018 and integrating these development regulations with the latest mapping technology. By streamlining the Village's Zoning Code and making it readily accessible to the general public, we hope to demystify a very important Chapter of the Code that is often met with uncertainty and trepidation.
While the Staff turnover that has occurred in the last few years was significant and an organizational challenge, much of it was due to retirement or leaving for private sector employment opportunities. Continuing to maintain a small and responsive local government is an important organizational goal of the Village as well as providing our Staff with the resources it needs to continue to be successful in managing the affairs of the community. As it currently stands, the Village has one of the lowest ratios of employees to Village residents on a per thousand basis. While impressive that administratively we are able to assist with the management of 11,600 residents over 36-square miles and 146.1 miles of road, any gaps in staffing become noticeable and severely hamper our day-to-day operations. Additionally, as the economy continues to show strength, new homes and commercial development also offer growth opportunities which, in turn, helps with our tax base but it also places additional challenge for our existing Village Staff to continually do more with less.
I am pleased that you have chosen to allow me to re-hire the Administrative Services Coordinator position, a job which has remained unfilled since 2014. The position was previously created for me to assist the community's vast departmental needs, essentially being a 'utility player' or 'jack of all trades' to the Staff at Village Hall. Ms. Jennifer Keller was the Village's previous Administrative Intern and over the course of her last year of employment has proven herself as a leader and problem solver. As such, I was pleased to extend a job offer to her in Q4 of 2017 which she accepted.
The job, as she grows into it, will have a focus on Planning, but will also be capable of assisting with clerking duties, treasury functions, and help with the administrative side of the Public Works Department.
In addition to Ms. Keller, the Village also hired in 2017 a new Deputy Clerk, Ms. Donna Cox. Ms. Cox comes to the Village with a wealth of municipal experience having worked in both the Town of Lisbon and the City of New Berlin. With special elections scheduled for December and January in addition to our regularly scheduled elections in February, April, August, and the Governor's election in November, the Village could not afford to have an inexperienced Deputy Clerk helping to manage one of the most vital functions we provide here at Village Hall, open and transparent elections. She has been a tremendous addition to Village Hall and a true resource on election administration.
Organizationally, we are also hitting stride in the Deputy Treasurer's Office as well. Ms. Deanna Hupe was brought on to Staff approximately one (1) year ago having previous work experience in the private sector. She managed the business affairs of a large commercial service industry and since has adapted well to life in the public sector. While the methods of accounting are generally the same with debits and credits, government fund accounting and all of the necessary reporting that comes along with it are new challenges and have provided a growth opportunity for her over the last year. Her formal training in accounting is an added benefit we've previously never had.
The Village Board in 2018 has again placed significant value on public safety and maintaining our aging infrastructure with road construction being the single largest budgeted expenditure in the upcoming fiscal year. However, it is important to note that the path we are currently on and have been on for decades is not sustainable. The Village has 146.1 miles of road and historically budgeting to fix 1-2% of our total road inventory has created a backlog of 40-50 miles of road that are in dire need of repair. This problem is not unique to the Village of Richfield and over the last few years we have seen our surrounding communities, both large and small, pass referendums and borrow money to address this same issue. While it is true the State of Wisconsin increased our General Transportation Aid funding in FY2018, the amount that it increased is nominal and does not get the Village any closer to where it needs to be in terms of funding infrastructure. I fully expect the Village Board in FY2018 to carefully consider funding options for future road improvements. While the Village has historically prided itself on being fiscally responsible, Staff is of the opinion that we have reached the nexus point in which continued deferred maintenance will only cause larger financial issues for the community in the years to come.
In 2018 I will assume a new role within the State of Wisconsin on the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Board of Directors. This added responsibility will not hamper my role here at Village Hall, but it will provide me the opportunity to advocate for smaller, responsive government and fight for local control to help maintain and move us "Forward….Preserving our Country Way of Life".