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 FY2020. This was an unusual and particularly draining year, both mentally and physically for Village Staff as we worked amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic and throughout it all, you supported the organization with your unwavering leadership. You allowed Village Staff to be flexible in our approach to running the day-to-day aspects of the Village. There were times when we were forced to close the doors to Village Hall, but the work of the taxpayers never ceased. The Board invested in the technology that allowed us to be successful in the workplace and when communities around the State halted to a stop, our small organization pushed forward. Village Staff takes pride in the work that we do and in FY2020, I believe that we made our dedication to the taxpayers a shining light in dark and uncertain times.
If there was one aspect that I would choose to highlight to describe the resiliency our organization had during the Pandemic, it would be how the Village handled it’s election cycle. With elections in February, April, August, and November, the Village was not only a leader in Washington County, but the State and I dare say the Midwest for how we adjusted ourselves to prepare for the single most important function we oversee as a Staff: preserving the sanctity of our elections and ensuring that every legal person who had the ability to vote in our elections, could.
It was through brainstorming with the Village President and Deputy Clerk that we reimagined the Absentee Voting process in the Village and created an out of the box approach utilizing our Parks Department Building for drive through Absentee Voting. With the help of virtually every Village employee, we worked outside in dreary and cold conditions to offer a unique opportunity for our residents to vote. I’d like to also express my sincere gratitude to the poll workers, Election Chiefs, and residents who were a part of this process, too. They say “it takes a Village” and under these circumstances, it certainly did. Regarding our elections, the Village prides itself on ensuring they are both clear and transparent. We welcome scrutiny from the public or outside organizations, so it is with great pleasure that I report that when the Village was audited by the Wisconsin Election’s Commission for its November 3, 2020 Election Day results, the hand-counted ballots matched exactly to the result that were tabulated and printed the night of the election. This is the direct result of training and preparation the Village has done over the years to ensure we follow the letter of the law regarding our Election Day procedures.
Another important aspect of the Village’s operations in FY2020 that I would be remiss if I did not mention it, was the ability of Staff to meet and exceed the expectations of the private sector. In last year’s budget address, we discussed the absolute necessity of the community to attract and retain our quality businesses. I am pleased that in FY2020, we were able to support and approve nine (9) new businesses into our community. During turbulent economic conditions, these businesses chose to invest in us and in our community. This is something that should not be minimized and should be celebrated! These businesses helped bring family supporting wages into our Village and diversified our small business community.
In the last quarter of FY2020, the Village began negotiations with Quest Engineering and are actively working on starting the Village’s first TIF District. This was a stated goal of ours to explore in last year’s budget address. While there are certainly examples a “bad” TIF Districts throughout the State of Wisconsin, I am confident that the Village will be able to negotiate a deal that is a “win-win” for our taxpayers and the private business looking to invest in our community. As discussed in previous years and with the passage of the Village’s historic Road Referendum in FY2018, the Village needs to continue to look for ways to improve our network of roads. With State funding seemingly flat, without borrowing money or instituting regressive taxing policies like a “wheel tax”, the Village will need to rely on true and meaningful economic development as a way of increasing the community’s assessed value to aid in our growth of our tax base. Under Wisconsin State Statutes, absent borrowing or referendum passage, the property tax levy can only be increased by the amount of “net new construction” the community saw in the previous year. The logic behind this provision is that new growth is not being subsidized by the existing tax base. For the Village, this amount of “net new construction” has equated to less than a 2% increase for each of the last seven (7) years, even with averaging 46 new single-family homes each year over that same period of time.
Noteworthy, in the 2021 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 FY2020, 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 and improve the “rideability” of two (2) miles of Hillside Road. While this road was scheduled for construction in the near future, with the removal of the transverse cracks our Department did this past summer it is expected that we will be able to better prioritize other arterial roadways in the coming years while we monitor the longevity of our improvements. This is also another important facet of the Village’s operations to point out. In the last decade, the Village Board has continued to invest in our Public Works Department both with training and equipment. As a result, we’ve gone from a “pot hole filling” Department to an actual Department of Public Works. In 2021, the Village will again fully fund its Equipment Replacement Plan (ERP) by saving $212,000 for the replacement of the Village’s fleet over time. Additionally, in FY2021, the Village is set to receive its first plow truck to be outfitted with brine tanks. This move to include brine tanks into our truck specifications was a direct result of the on-going research and study by Staff on salt dispersion patterns on our rural roadways.
Thank you for continuing to put faith in me to help lead this community and in the rest of our Village Staff. Working for the Village of Richfield is the honor of a lifetime and I am grateful the Village Board continues to have faith in what we continue to accomplish, together. It is with an unfettered optimism that I look forward to FY2021 and all that it has to offer our great Village.
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)