Downtown Waukesha Has No Need For BID To Plan and Sponsor Events

Waukesha BID


Now that the dust from last years Downtown Waukesha BID dilemma has settled and the new board members are moving forward to develop new by-laws, a 2013 budget, and operating plans, there appear to be significant proposals that would affect the size and overall nature of BID.
Waukesha City Administrator and BID Board member Ed Henschel drafted an operating plan and bylaws for the organization.  Some of the changes proposed under Henschel’s plan include:


  • Eliminating the executive director’s position
  • Putting more money into downtown events instead of administrative costs
  • Changing the amount of members of the board.


Henschel is quoted as saying that he feels strongly about downtown Waukesha being a healthy and vibrant destination, and I believe that he see’s what needs to be changed through a fresh set of eyes.


**Note from editor: I want to make it crystal clear that I do not have any agenda other than supporting the growth, success and social & economical advancement of the downtown Waukesha area.  Like most people I simply want to live some place that is positive and thriving.
I also want to make it clear that I intend no disrespect or ridicule towards anyone.  I do however; vehemently oppose the small posse of haters and naysayers who call downtown Waukesha their home or business place and do anything in their power to thwart the happiness and success of others


My Personal Perspective

I would have to agree that in order to prevent further problems from arising in our great city it is necessary to take the “control” out of the equation when it comes to planning and sponsoring festivals and events that happen throughout the city and downtown area.  Further, eliminating negative individuals from influencing allied BID board members will ensure that downtown Waukesha will continue to thrive and become an even greater place to visit and/or bring new businesses.  We can and should learn from our past.

A great example of why the proposed changes need to be adopted is demonstrated in the most recent “ice sculpting” that was part of the 2013 Waukesha JanBoree.


A Simple Request for Event Funding

As a partner of the ice sculpting held in downtown during the JanBoree, the Waukesha Downtown Business Association requested $1,600 for costs to make the 2013 ice sculpting event happen; such as purchasing the ice blocks, etc.  The BID board denied the request.  Had it not been for the Waukesha Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department providing the necessary funding the event would have been cancelled? It is public knowledge that the Waukesha BID has a reasonably sufficient cache of money and I hate to think that $1,600 would have made that much of a difference, especially when it was needed for a downtown event.

* I personally think it would be best to leave sponsor and funding contributions made through BID, up to the businesses that are taxed those monies, not BID board members!


Dissention Among Us

Let’s face it.  As people we are not always going to get along with every person we meet.  There is, however, a difference between not getting along and harboring hatred, resentment, and animosity towards other people or institutions.  I am confident that BID board President Bill Huelsman is at odds with the Waukesha Downtown Business Association and perhaps this resentment is the reason for denying the necessary funding to sponsor the ice sculpting event?  Whatever the case may be, the most important fact that needs to be recognized here is that all of the usual events can continue without the BID being involved. Again, sponsor and funding contributions for events made through BID should be voted on by the businesses that are taxed those monies, not board members!


Downtown Success Without BID

The previous BID helped run downtown events such as the Carl Zach Cycling Classic, Waukesha Farmers’ Market, Diva Day and Art Fest.  Most of these events have continued to run as planned without any BID and they can and will continue to do so.

Waukesha City Administrator Ed HenschelClearly Mr. Henschel analyzed the obvious problems with the old BID when he came up with the following operational plan:

to provide financial support to organizations desiring to conduct activities and events within the Business Improvement District that support and enhance the goals of the BID. The BID shall collect funds from various sources and shall distribute those funds as are available to support downtown activities. The BID will not be the primary body for the development and administration of events and activities. There are a number of downtown organizations that currently sponsor and administer events and activities designed to improve the business climate within the BID”.


Mr. Henschel also made it clear under the draft operational plan that any expenditure’s by the BID board are to be used for:


  • Making the downtown more vibrant to enhance the business climate;
  • Administration and management;
  • Downtown development and to enhance the downtown image;
  • Promotions and advertising of the district businesses;
  • Physical appearance of the downtown; and
  • Promote vacant properties for appropriate occupancy.


Finally, limiting the role of BID would leave more money to be put back into the downtown business area:


  • Shrinking the board size from 13 members to seven;
  • Requiring the board to consist of three property owners and three business occupants or residents within the district;
  • Requiring the BID’s operating plan to be approved by the Common Council;
  • Removing standing committees but holding committee meetings as necessary; and
  • “Assisting with funding” instead of “planning and sponsoring” events and festivals in downtown Waukesha.


Who Supports the BID being in Control of Downtown Events?

The answer to that question is simple.  Just go to any common council meeting that deals with downtown events and see who stands up to insert their foot into their mouth – I mean to defend a board with members that are in control.

At a recent common council hearing two former BID board members made their objections to Mr. Henschel’s proposed plan during the public comment session.


I think the executive director position is critical to the success of downtown,” said Jeff Barta, a downtown business owner and former BID board member. “There’s been a lot of criticism that the BID budget is heavily weighted in salary for administrative costs. That’s no different from any other governmental agency”.


So in other words Mr. Barta would rather see his BID taxes go into someone’s salary rather than being used to promote and market the downtown area to bring more customers to his business.  Interesting.

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ChristineVanderBloemen, a property owner who resigned from the BID board last year stated, “It says to me all you want is to put on events. That you don’t care about development and you don’t care about keeping the businesses here.  All you want us property owners for is our pocket books, and I feel like you’re stealing from us.”


Ms. VanderBloemen is obviously confused because under the proposed plan there would be more money going back into the downtown rather than salaries and administrative costs.  In other words downtown businesses would get more bang for their buck for the BID taxes they pay.


At the beginning of this article I stated that I vehemently oppose the small posse of haters and naysayers who call downtown Waukesha their home or business place and whom will do anything in their power to thwart the happiness and success of others.  These group members often attend common council meetings and inevitably stick their foot into their mouth to protect their self-serving agenda.


The Advancement of Success for Downtown Waukesha

The truth is really simple here folks.  Downtown Waukesha is on the threshold of a huge summer of events and festivals for 2013 and nobody is going to stop it!

Coming up we have:

Phase II of the Waukesha GuitarTown Project.

Waukesha Freeman Friday Night Live.

Waukesha Farmers Market.

Many downtown Art Crawls.

Charity fundraisers.

Silver Bells.

The list goes on and grows on a continual basis.

Who benefits from these events?  Everyone!


People will come to see these events and participate in these fun, family oriented events. Businesses are going to prosper from these events despite what some people will try and lead you to believe.

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6 Responses to Downtown Waukesha Has No Need For BID To Plan and Sponsor Events

  • Has there ever been an “audit” of the money that comes in. For example, if someone donates money to a Freeman Friday night live – just in general, where does that money go? Can the person who donates the money ask? Or is is the discretion of the Downtown Association to determine where it goes? If money is designated to a specific event – can it be used for other events? Inquiring minds would like to know. Thank you.

    • Thanks for asking Trinette:
      Remember that there are two distinctive downtown entities that sponsor the various events. The Waukesha BID (Business Improvement District) did some of the events, but many events like Freeman Friday Night Live and Waukesha Silver Bells are administered by the Waukesha Downtown Business Association. As such the WDBA is not governed by open records laws like BID – a government entity.
      However, if you were going to make a donation towards an event like Friday Night Live and you are interested in knowing where the money actually goes, I can only imagine that they would be more than happy to share that information with you. WDBA is a group of professional business owners and members who strive to make our downtown successful despite the many attempts by others who make them out to be the bad guys. Please don’t be fooled 😉

  • just a small correction – the WDBA is not a 501(c)3 organization.

  • Just curious is my comment being censored?

    • As a matter of fact Mr. Barta, it is.
      Around Waukesha is not a forum where individuals can comment and make unfounded allegations against a city official or anyone for that matter. Although people have a right to their opinion, I must draw the line somewhere. Further, name calling and making inappropriate insinuations is childish and will be rejected as well.
      Perhaps you can resubmit a comment that falls within these guidelines.