Dear Village President Jeffords, Board of Trustees, Village Staff, and members of the community,
First and foremost, I want to thank the Village Board for their leadership during FY2021. This continued to be a year of challenge and growth for the community as we continued to navigate the waters of the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as worked on large-scale projects which we hope will have a generational impact in our community if they are able to come to fruition. The Village Board’s support and trust in me as the Village Administrator and our Team is sincerely appreciated. It is because of your unwavering leadership and policy direction that we can accomplish all that we do. On behalf of Village Staff, thank you.
The Village has many challenges ahead of itself and major policy decisions to make in the coming year. One of the major challenges we faced last year was the replacement of the Village’s Building Inspector, Mr. Joel Jaster. For the last 15+ years, Mr. Jaster, along with Mr. Greg Darga, were some of the more visible faces of our organization. With the Board’s support, we were able to hire a candidate during the last six (6) months before Mr. Jaster’s retirement to help with the transition not only in our community but with the other two (2) communities we serve, the Villages of Sussex and Slinger. In FY2021, that volume of permits (building, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and new homes) processed by our Building Inspection Department exceeded anything they’ve seen in nearly two (2) decades. Ensuring continuity in this Department was of vital importance and we feel very fortunate to have found another well-qualified inspector so the business of the Village can continue, unimpeded.
Hopefully, this transitional phase has highlighted the importance of succession planning for our organization and the need to continually plan for the coming years ahead. While the Village does not have a traditional Human Resources Department, we have several well-qualified employees with experience in this field who we look to as resources as well as our contract for services with the County’s HR Department for these types of organization-wide planning efforts. It is anticipated in the next 3-5 years or sooner, the Village will also need to seek to replace our Village’s Shop Foreman/Mechanic who next year will have been with the Village for 26-years—a rarity in local government. Vocations like welding, fabricating, and automotive repair are in short supply nationally, so great thought will need to take place as we work directly with our DPW Supervisor and Shop Foreman/Mechanic on what a 12-month succession plan looks like. That way, the chosen individual will have a full year of work and have experience working on all of the Village’s equipment and vehicles - from bunker rakes to snow plows.
Community-wide, another pressing issue the Village will need to address in FY2022 is how best to collaboratively work with the Richfield Volunteer Fire Company (RVFC) on the staffing needs addressed during the FY2021 budgeting season. As you recall, the Village provided funding for the RVFC to hire its fifth full-time firefighter and EMS employee. This expenditure utilized all of the Village’s allowable increase in property tax revenue (less than 1.5% net new construction) and required the reallocation of funds internally within RVFC budget. However, more must be done to ensure we are adequately providing coverage to the Village’s 36-square miles and nearly 12,000 residents.
The RVFC operates as a “combination department”, which means that they operate with both paid and volunteer staff, and rely heavily upon the majority of the membership as volunteers (also called paid-on-call or POC’s). Station #2 on Hubertus Road is staffed with personnel during weekdays, Monday through Friday, from 8AM to 6PM. Outside of these hours, the Village relies heavily on the use of our volunteers. When responding outside of staffed hours, at the time of alarm, members drive from their homes to the fire station, gather in the appropriate piece of emergency apparatus, and respond to the emergency incident. As 2021 came to a close, the RVFC finished their busiest year in the history of their organization. This past year they responded to 141 fire calls and 548 EMS calls, totaling 689 calls for service. This resulted in an increase of 55 calls over 2020’s incident total of 634 calls for service. In the past 20 years, the RVFC has more than doubled their call volume. This is consistent with recent State and National trends in the emergency services world where call volumes continue to grow annually. What is most concerning is the membership of the RVFC has seen the opposite trend. At the end of 2021, the total amount of active volunteer members was 33 people, which is less than half of the membership in 2012 at 76 people. As the population makeup of Richfield continues to evolve from the early rural farming community to a more urbanized suburban community with families commuting to and from local metropolitan business areas, we have less and less people in town who desire to do this type of important and necessary work. However, the need to provide efficient and effective fire/EMS services still remains. Similar to the Village’s historic Road Referendum in FY2018, the Village needs to continue to look for ways to innovate and fund these necessary operations. It is expected that in FY2022 this will be a top organizational priority and community-wide conversation.
Noteworthy, in the 2022 Budget, is the fact that the Village also continues to invest in its largest departmental budget, Public Works, which accounts for over 50% of our annual expenditures. In FY2021, the Village’s Department of Public Works did a phenomenal job of completing projects, in-house, which helped make improvements to our network of roads. In 2022, the Village will again fully fund its Equipment Replacement Plan (ERP) by saving $195,000 for the replacement of the Village’s fleet over time. Additionally, in FY2022, the Village intends to replace its computer server ($18,000), replace its accounting software ($30,000), purchase a patrol truck ($42,000), and reconstruct approximately four (4) miles of roadway ($1,500,000).
This past year, I was fortunate to have been nominated and chosen to win the Wisconsin Policy Forum’s Jean B. Tyler Leader of the Future Award. As I said during the awards ceremony, this award was a reflection of the policy direction Village Board has set and the amazing work done by our Village Staff. As a very lean organization, the work that each one of our employees does on a daily basis makes a tangible difference in our community. It is important for them to understand that their work matters and that they are all a valued part of our Team. In closing, thank you for continuing to have confidence in me and allowing me to serve the taxpayers of this wonderful community. It is an honor.
2022 Village Budget (PDF)
2021 Village Budget (PDF)
2020 Village Budget (PDF)
2019 Village Budget (PDF)
2018 Village Budget (PDF)
2017 Village Budget (PDF)
2016 Village Budget (PDF)
2015 Village Budget (PDF)
2014 Village Budget (PDF)
2013 Village Budget (PDF)