Moving Our Family of Waukesha Forward

 

Mayor Jeff ScrimaWithin both families and cities, individual members have opinions and express them. This freedom of speech is good. We make choices everyday. And the things we value and the choices we make together can move us forward.

My focus is to serve the families of Waukesha and move our community forward. Families that move forward together all share values of consistency, responsibility, reliability, restoration, growth, fun, and keeping promises. The City of Waukesha is our family, and together we also share these same values.

1. Consistency. When the citizens elected me to the Office of Mayor, they told me they wanted a non-partisan Mayor – a Mayor that didn’t support someone else’s political agenda, but rather focused on the work of the city. I agreed and for the last four years I have repeatedly declined political invitations from both Madison and Washington. From declining invitations to Governor Walker’s Christmas Parties, to passing on Congressman Paul Ryan’s visit to Carroll University, to declining President Obama’s invitation, I’ve been consistent.

I do sincerely respect the offices of the Governor, Congressmen and President, and am willing to collaborate with Governor Walker, Congressman Paul Ryan, and President Obama. However for them to simply stop into town for a few minutes to speak and take a picture does not seem like collaboration. Moreover, Madison and Washington are more polarized than they’ve ever been. At the local level, that does not help us. While I understand and respect local citizen’s various viewpoints, I have chosen to be consistent and decline all of these invitations from partisan politicians, and rather focus on the work of the city.

 

2. Responsibility. So what is the work of the city? What have we accomplished together? As Mayor, during the last four years, I cast a new vision for fiscal responsibility, vetoed city budgets with unnecessary spending, took a lot of heat for it, and prevailed. Therefore, for the first time in the history of our city, we’ve held the tax levy flat – on average under inflation – resulting in tax relief and a better value for our families.

Note that by comparison, if we had we followed trajectory of the previous administration, our taxes would be over 20% higher today. But we didn’t.

I believe that the greatest challenge facing the City of Waukesha is continuing to provide tax relief and value. I understand that our families and businesses pay the bills (both tax bills and water bills), and that the city is a business – we are in the business of creating the highest quality of life at the best price.

 

3. Reliability. We’ve moved forward towards Oak Creek for water. As Mayor I support the City of Waukesha’s application for Lake Michigan water from Oak Creek, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is currently reviewing it.

Initially, City of Waukesha families and business owners were concerned over the hidden costs of water from Milwaukee, because Milwaukee had resolved to use water sales to help balance their budget and to control suburban businesses, jobs, housing and transportation (Milwaukee Resolution File #080457). My in person meeting with Milwaukee Aldermen confirmed this.

However, the City of Waukesha has since redirected, and we are moving forward towards Oak Creek for our future Lake Michigan water source. We met with the leaders of Oak Creek, and I signed the Letter of Intent to purchase water from Oak Creek immediately upon receiving it on November 30, 2012 – an agreement with no conditions related to additional economic compensation, nor our businesses, jobs, housing or transportation. This agreement can be found on the DNR’s website.

 

4. Restoration. We’ve more than doubled our investment into road restoration. As Mayor, I advocated strongly for the repair of our roads, for investing millions of dollars more into this part of the budget, and even went out and worked with road crews as an example. During the last four years, we have literally more than doubled our investment (compared to the previous administration) into road restoration. For the first time in decades, roads all around the city are being resurfaced and replaced double time.

For a list of the roads that have been and will be restored, see our city website or www.scrimaformayor.com. Also note that as Mayor, I advocated for cutting of grass within the Highway 18 and 164/59 medians and a new property code inspector position, which we’ve included in the budget this year, and will make our city more clean and inviting.

 

5. Growth. We’ve created over 700 family-supporting jobs. As Mayor, my proactive approach and fluency in business language (as a business owner) was a driving force in bringing unprecedented growth to Waukesha – resulting in over 700 new family-supporting jobs, and adding over $100 million of new assessed value. This job growth was one of the primary reasons Money Magazine ranked Waukesha as the only Wisconsin city in 2012 on their list of “Best Places to Live” in America.

Specifically during the last four years, with city assistance, our expanding economic engines include Gaco Western, SPX Waukesha Electric, The Shoppes at Fox River, Weldall Manufacturing, and Woodman’s Food Market. Additional expansions include Carroll University, GE Gas Engines, ProHealth Care, and more.

This is the result of having a proactive Mayor’s Office that knows how to connect with business leaders. For example, in 2010, as mayor I invited and encouraged Woodman’s to join the corporate citizenship of Waukesha, which resulted in the transformation of a vacant concrete plant into a vibrant retail center and city gateway.

 

6. Fun. We’ve grown our sense of community and pride. As Mayor, during the last four years, I have encouraged the growth of our community front porch events like Freeman Friday Night Live, the Farmer’s Market along the Riverwalk, Fiesta Waukesha, and was instrumental in bringing the Gibson GuitarTown National Art and Music Project to Waukesha.

These events – with their largest attendances yet in 2013 – draw thousands of families and thousands of smiles. In addition, during the last four years our Park System and Library won top national and state awards.

 

7. Keeping Promises. While running for office four years ago, I promised give half of my pay back to the community. Four years later, through creating community fund held with the Waukesha County Community Foundation dedicated to providing vitality to the city, I’ve kept that promise.

This fund provided the start-up money for the national Gibson GuitarTown Project to come to Waukesha – which through community collaboration has donated over $140,000 to local charities over the last two years.

In addition, with the support of other partners, the fund saved and restored the City’s Farmer’s Market Structure along the River Walk – which thousands of residents enjoy on Saturday mornings May through October.

The fund recently approved the start-up money for new City Gateway entrance signs – to be built on the gateways around the perimeter of the City. For more information, see www.scrimaformayor.com

Since cities are in some way larger families, cities that move forward together value consistency, responsibility, reliability, restoration, growth, fun, and keeping promises. As Mayor, your values are my values, and I am here to serve you. My hope is that this letter can bring mutual clarity and understanding. Feel free to share your thoughts with me by emailing jscrima@ci.waukesha.wi.us or by calling (262) 524-3700.

Together we will continue the proven positive results, and have a future of financial stability, affordable and clean drinking water, smooth roads, continued job growth, and more fun.

Waukesha is not just a city; it is our home! Together we will move Waukesha forward!

Your public servant, Mayor Jeff Scrima

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