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.