Feb 15

Low Utility Rates in Manitowoc

Did you know that your electric rates have decreased 3% since Jan. 1st, 2009 and that your water rates are the 2nd lowest of major cities in the entire state? Electric rates were reduced at the beginning of 2017 for the third straight time since I was first elected Mayor.
 
As a member of the Manitowoc Public Utilities Commission, it’s our goal to keep rates low for our citizens and to attract businesses to our community. We are able to do this, in large part, because MPU is a community-owned utility providing; water, electric, steam, and broadband access for our business community.
 
MPU has very dedicated employees and a commission made up of citizens that continue to provide quality service at a very low cost.
 
Having low rates and local control provides us an excellent opportunity for economic growth. We hold an industrial breakfast annually for our major customers and we continue to hear positive feedback on low rates and great customer service.

Feb 15

Mirro is COMING DOWN!

The Common Council unanimously approved a demolition contractor for the Mirro building on Monday, Feb. 13th.

The winning contractor is Brandenburg Industrial Services out of Chicago, IL (major corporation that specializes in demolition, they are currently doing some work in Green Bay).

The contract states that the building must be demolished to grade between March 1st and July 1st, 2017.

The cost of demolition is: $1,402,841.50

The cost of disposal of waste is: $585,000 (Waste Management won that contract)

The total cost of the demolition project is then: $1,987,841.50

As you may recall, the city borrowed $2.4 million in the 2016 budget for this and $300,000 was allocated as a contingency in the 2017 budget (used from savings on the Dewey Street project). Total budgeted for demolition was $2.7 million.

We already have a contract with Holian Environmental Cleaning Corp. for the asbestos removal which is happening as we speak. That contract was for $583,516.80.

Adding those 2 together we would have a total demolition cost of: $2,571,358.30 – or $128,641.70 less than we budgeted for.

We also approved $398,000 from the Brownfields Advisory Committee. These are Federal dollars that will be used for environmental remediation and to pay Stantec, our general contractor on the project (got all the bid specs together, went through the building to determine scope of work, and will continue through the project’s completion). These dollars help offset the local share that would have increased the total demolition cost.

We are also aggressively seeking another state grant (Idle Sites Grant) for $500,000 to offset the local share.

As always, there may be costs that pop up unexpected. We have thoroughly vetted the building, so we don’t expect much during demolition. There may also be some tipping taxes (charged by the state), but we are trying to eliminate those (since we are a municipality).

We will schedule a “demolition ceremony” with a first swing at the building in the near future. This will be worked out with Brandenburg and my office. We have not made a decision on selling wood/bricks from the building yet; that also will be discussed with Brandenburg. The city will issue a press release once this is known.

I know this has been a long process, however we worked aggressively to ensure the local taxpayers paid the least amount possible to remove this eye sore from our community. It took time and skill to get the former owner off the property without a cost to the taxpayers, which we accomplished.

Thank you for your support in this project, your voices were heard by the elected officials and today we begin to see the end of this blight in our community. While the physical structure will be gone soon, we still plan on having an area on the property dedicated to the men and women who worked at Mirro over its 100 years in Manitowoc.

Forward!

Feb 14

The Future of Your City | Part 2

The Future of Your City | Part 2 of 9

 

Thank you for tuning in today.

 

For the second episode I would like to reflect on my past 8 years as Mayor and 4 years on the Common Council and focus on the accomplishments we’ve made so you can determine if my resume and the leadership I’ve provided is worthy enough to earn your vote for 4 more years in office.

 

I was first elected to the Common Council in 2005 and during that time, I remained steadfast in my commitment to listen first and act second to ensure I was acting according to the will of those I represented – a commitment that I have brought with me to the Mayor’s office. I was the Council’s leading advocate for fiscal responsibility, with the mantra that, “We must prioritize our needs over our wants”. I was willing to stand up for what I thought was right, even if it meant standing alone.

 

There are 2 areas I would like to focus the past 8 years on in today’s episode. The city’s finances and the city’s business climate.

 

When I was elected Mayor in April of 2009 the city had $86 million in debt and an unemployment rate of almost 15%. During that election Koenig and Vits announced their closure taking with it 75 jobs and 2 weeks after I was sworn in to office Anhueser Busch announced the closure of their facility. The city was on the brink of bankruptcy and times seemed very grim for our future economic outlook.

 

One of the first promises I ever made in the Mayor’s Office was to never borrow more than we were paying back in any given year. That is a promise that was kept and today we have seen our overall city debt decrease from $76 million to $50 million. We have always paid off more debt than we incurred under every budget I presented and we will continue to reduce the debt even under the proposals I have laid out for the next 4 years. Under my plan the overall city debt will be $40 million by 2021 while still investing $25 million into the community during that same time.

 

The city’s finances have improved greatly over the past 8 years under every budget I have presented. For example, in 2010 the city’s reserve fund was at $16,000. Today it’s at $3.2 million dollars which is a healthy sign of fiscal responsibility.

 

This didn’t come easily. As I mentioned, we were on the brink of bankruptcy as a community and we had to make some very difficult decisions, including eliminating 75 full-time positions, increasing taxes, and borrowing from Manitowoc Public Utilities.

 

However, we have set ourselves up financially to be able to re-invest in the community responsibly, without going further into debt and without raising taxes drastically. In 2018 and beyond we will be able to put large dollars into our roads and infrastructure, we will be able to bring back some key positions throughout the city that were eliminated, we paid of the MPU loan in 2017, and we can start focusing on the future growth of our community. Remember, we didn’t get $76 million in debt overnight – and we weren’t able to get out of it overnight either. It took dedication, patience, and strong fiscal management to get through these difficult financial times and I hope I have proven to you that my experience, leadership, and the promises I made to you the last 2 elections, helped get us to where we are today.

 

The second area is the city’s business climate. As I mentioned, the city’s unemployment rate was almost 15% in April 2009. One of the first things I did as Mayor was set up meetings with local business owners. Our top priority was to retain our businesses and assist in any way possible their continued growth in Manitowoc.

 

I then set up an annual Mayor’s Business Roundtable that brought business leaders and local government together to share ideas, concerns, and what the business community needed to be successful in our area.

 

Today the unemployment rate in the City of Manitowoc in under 5% and there are a plethora of local businesses that the city assisted for their growth here. We work closely and support Progress Lakeshore and we reorganized our Planning Department to be more economic development focused, more proactive than reactive. Under my time in office we have created ways for businesses to get free land in our industrial park if they build there, we’ve provided several revolving loans, sought federal and state aid for business growth and expansion, kept water and electric rates as one of the lowest in the state, and work daily with our local businesses to ensure they remain in Manitowoc and continue to grow here.

 

The unemployment rate is drastically lower than when I took office 8 years ago, Koenig and Vits is now Skana Aluminum with 150 jobs and Anheuiser Busch is Briess Malting, a very successful business in Downtown Manitowoc.

 

We should focus on all of the small to large businesses we currently have that are doing exceptionally well. Our business climate has drastically improved the past 8 years because of them.

 

Until next week, Thank you.

 

 

 

Feb 03

The Future of Your City | Part 1

The Future of Your City Part 1 of 9

Thank you for tuning in today.

 

I’m Justin Nickels, the Mayor of the City of Manitowoc.

 

Over the next 9 weeks I will be sharing my vision for the future of our community with these 5 minute radio ads. I’ll review how we got to this point, but my main focus will be on the next 4 years.

 

Elections are great opportunities to share our vision of what we want our community to be. That’s why I titled this program “the future of your city” – I want to focus on what Manitowoc can become with the visions and plans I am presenting. This community belongs to all of us and I need you to be engaged in this election process to share your thoughts and your visions on how we can become an even greater place to live, work, and play.

 

I also want to take this opportunity to welcome Mr. Nelson to the race and thank him for stepping forward to present his ideas for what the mayor should do over the next 4 years. All too often we see races uncontested. The citizens deserve a choice and an opportunity to hold elected officials and those running for office responsible for what they say and do. It’s not easy running for Mayor, this will be my third time, I know. So when people like Mr. Nelson are willing to step forward and devote the time and energy necessary, they should be complimented.

 

I’m looking forward to a very positive and robust campaign with him.

 

I would ask one thing from you as the voters, however. Please hold both of us accountable. Don’t settle for rhetoric or unanswered questions. If we put a proposal out there or if we say we can do something better than the other, make us provide facts, or data, or proof of how we will accomplish what we say we are going to do. By doing so, the best person will win on April 4th and lead this city over the next 4 years and every citizen will benefit from that.

 

We live in a great community. I am proud to have been born and raised here, to go to school here, to officiate basketball games here, to go to events here, and to enjoy life on the lakeshore. I’m proud that my entire family since my great-grandfather has called this place home. My main goal over the past 8 years has been to leave this place better than I found it. That’s still my goal for the next 4 years. Each day we can improve, and I am excited for the opportunities that lie ahead of us.

 

I have 3 beautiful nieces now and I want to ensure that they are proud to call Manitowoc their home when they go through school, get jobs, and raise their own families here someday. My parents have retired and I want to ensure they have a safe and clean community to live out their days in. I want that for all our citizens and I’ve worked tirelessly the past 12 years as an elected official to try and accomplish that.

 

I don’t expect you to vote for me just because I am the incumbent. I don’t expect to just be given your vote. My job over the next 9 weeks of this campaign is to earn your vote to continue to serve you the next 4 years. I will lay out my plans and proposals for what I think our community needs to do the next 4 years and beyond. However, these plans and proposals really came from you after listening to you the past 8 years as your mayor and 4 years before that serving District 2 on the Common Council.

 

These past 8 years have arguably been the most difficult times our city has seen in decades. I view the challenges we faced as opportunities to do great things. That’s why I have crafted a very robust 22-point plan that I want to implement over the next 4 years. It calls for large increases in infrastructure spending, continued debt reduction, focusing on downtown and our river and lakefront properties, our industrial park, business growth throughout the entire community both large and small, and a greater focus on our educational and cultural amenities. You can learn more about this plan by visiting www.justinnickels.com

 

I will also be holding regular office hours at my Campaign Headquarters located at the corner of S. 8th and Franklin Streets, 901A S. 8th Street in historic downtown Manitowoc. Those hours will be listed on social media and my website. Or, stop in the office at City Hall or chat with me at an event. I’m always excited to hear and learn from you on how we can do things better.

 

Looking back at all of this, I am still gratified each and every day that you gave a fresh-faced 18 year old high school student the opportunity to serve you on the Common Council and it has truly been the honor and privilege of my life to serve as your mayor these past 8 years. I hope I can earn your vote on April 4th to serve you and our community for 4 more years.

 

Until next week, Thank you.

Jan 27

Manitowoc business gets $3M for harbor work

MANITOWOC – Local transloading business 1311 Spring LLC was awarded a $3 million grant to develop 520 feet of Manitowoc River shoreline by constructing a new dockwall and dredging 9,000 cubic yards of sediment.

Peter Allie, co-owner of 1311 Spring LLC, said: “This means that we can create some jobs here and have a working harbor. Companies here and, really, any company west of here would be able to make use of the harbor as a way to ship out their products.”

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation grant was approved by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Wednesday. A press release from DOT said the grant supports improvements that will “promote waterborne freight and assist economic development in the communities where they are located.”

RGL Holdings, Inc. in Green Bay was also awarded $2 million as a part of the Harbor Assistance Program.

 

The work on the Manitowoc River is expected to start in June and be completed by fall, Allie said. The work will be headed by a state-approved engineer and 20 percent of matching funds will be provided by 1311 Spring LLC for the project.

He said the city has been helpful in promoting the Manitowoc River and harbor as a working harbor to businesses and manufacturers.

Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels said the $3 million grant is a major accomplishment.

“Manitowoc is unique in that it has a working port, a working river and corridor,” Nickels said. “This creates unique opportunities for this city.”

While 1311 Spring LLC took the lead in getting the grant, Nickels said he is doing what he can to make the project possible and to open the river and harbor for more commerce.

In a recent Plan Commission meeting, new hours and new capabilities for what can be transloaded through the river was approved, including transporting stone. Nickels said while stone may not sound very significant, it could be a big business and lead to a lot of traffic on the river.

“What is happening now is a big piece of what we are looking to do in the next five years,” Nickels said.

The mayor said he plans to pursue acquiring the peninsula near Burger Boat, of which a large part is currently owned by the Canadian National Railway. Nickels said acquiring that land and improving the waterway around it is a vital piece to continuing to improve Manitowoc’s working harbor.

Alisa M. Schafer: 920-686-2105 or aschafer@gannett.com

Dec 12

Nickels Announces Intent to Re-Open Library on Thursdays in 2018 Budget

Over the next few weeks I will be rolling out several plans or proposals that I will implement if I am fortunate enough to earn your vote for a third term on April 4th, 2017.
 
Through steadfast leadership and strict budgeting, we have balanced the city budget, cut the overall debt by $26 million dollars, increased our reserve funds, and set a course for fiscally responsible budgets moving forward. We had to make tough decisions along the way, but the benefits of those decisions are beginning to pay off.
 
A result was closing the doors of the Manitowoc Public Library on Thursday’s. While not an easy decision, it was a necessary one given our budget at the time (even for 2017).
 
We cannot talk about a successful and vibrant downtown if stores are closed during the week. I would argue this to be the same for the Library. There are several other benefits of the Library being open to the public 7-days a week.
 
Therefore, I will make opening the Manitowoc Public Library on Thursday’s a top priority of the 2018 budget. I promise to find the solution and the dollars to accomplish this priority. The 2018 budget (thanks to our past budgeting strategies) will allow for the Library to be open on Thursday’s (without a tax increase for this purpose) if we make it a priority to do so.
 
If I am re-elected, I will make that a priority for you. I have received a plethora of feedback from citizens on their desire to re-open on Thursday’s. I hear you, and I will willing (and wanting) to make it happen. We also have new leadership at the Library and I am excited to see the great things we can accomplish together.

Dec 01

Nickels Announces Brennan Seehafer as Campaign Manager

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DECEMBER 1, 2016
 
Manitowoc Mayor Justin M. Nickels announced today that Brennan Seehafer will serve as his Campaign Manager for the April 2017 Mayoral Election.
 
Born and raised in Manitowoc, Seehafer owns and operates Brennan Seehafer Productions, which is a national concert promotions company that has produced a number of events in Manitowoc and nationwide the past 10 years. He also serves on the Capitol Civic Centre Board of Directors.
 
Seehafer is a fellow young professional who loves his hometown and is committed to the betterment of the community. His role in the Nickels campaign will be focused on community outreach and policy creation for the campaign and next mayoral term. Nickels is excited to see Manitowoc’s young professionals stepping up to serve their community and help shape the future of Manitowoc.
 
Local attorney Tim Salutz serves as Nickels Campaign Treasurer.

Nov 28

2017 Budget Passes 8-1

Brey: 2017 city budget ‘a way to the future’

2017 Budget Passes 8-1

May 26

Nickels Announces Re-Election Bid

Media Announcement 5-27-16

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Manitowoc Mayor Justin M. Nickels, currently serving in his second-term as Mayor of the City of Manitowoc, announced on Friday, May 27th, 2016 that he will seek a third term as Mayor of Manitowoc.

 

Nomination papers will be circulated in December 2016 with a General Election being held on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017.

 

Mayor Nickels was first elected to the Manitowoc Common Council on April 5th, 2005, serving two terms representing District 2. He was elected Mayor on April 7th, 2009 and re-elected to a second term on April 2nd, 2013.

 

According to Mayor Nickels: “I’ve always announced my intentions to seek office well in advance of the election. I want the citizens of the City of Manitowoc to know that the decisions I am making today aren’t just for the remainder of my current term, but for the betterment of the community well into the future. I don’t have any reason to hide the fact that I will seek another term, therefore I am announcing my intentions to seek a third term as your Mayor.”

 

“We have spent my time in office focused on reducing debt, getting our finances in order, and tearing down eye sores in the community. Those were the priorities that the Common Council, department heads, city employees, and Mayor’s Office focused on every single day. We have achieved those goals: the city finances are extraordinarily better today than when I first took office, the debt has been reduced by almost $25 million dollars and buildings like the mid-cities mall and mirro will have been demolished by the end of 2016.”

 

“Our focus moving forward needs to be re-investing (responsibly) versus just cutting debt and building versus tearing down. This is what our community needs to be successful long-term.”

“Therefore, I am proposing a 22-point plan of 22 areas in the City of Manitowoc that we need to focus on and prioritize from now until 2022 – beginning today, not after the next mayoral election. The 3 areas of focus will be on Economic Development, Infrastructure/Parks and Education/Culture. The full plan can be viewed by visiting www.justinnickels.com

 

“I am humbled and honored to serve as your Mayor. You have given me the greatest opportunity to serve you each and every day the past 7 years. I am excited to move this community forward after spending so long trying to repair what was broken. Together, we can ensure our tomorrow is brighter than our yesterday.”

 

Please contact Mayor Nickels if you wish to learn more about the 2022 Vision at: jnicks54220@gmail.com | (920) 645-1857 | www.justinnickels.com

 

Authorized and Paid for by Friends of Justin Nickels. Tim Salutz, Treasurer

May 23

2016 City of Manitowoc Budget

View the 2016 City of Manitowoc Budget here: http://www.manitowoc.org/index.aspx?NID=186

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