We had a a great turnout for the candidate forum on Tuesday, March 28. Forty-four people filled the main conference room at New Berlin Public Library. (The forum was moved from the much smaller Heritage Room, where it was originally scheduled.)
Three of the four candidates appeared (from left):
- Amy Crosby
- Krislyn Holaday-Wondrachek
- Dmitry Becker
Candidates fielded a wide variety of questions from the audience. Topics included:
- Concealed carry in the schools
- How Gov. Walker's proposed budget will affect the district
- Act 10 (whether they supported it)
- Transparency and responsiveness of school board
Continuing a tradition started years ago, Rotary Club of New Berlin presented this forum as a public service to New Berlin voters. Rotarian Dianne Moore, pictured here announcing the ground rules, read the questions. Assisting her as timer was club president Pat McLaughlin (seen far left near the lectern).
We'd like to thank the candidates and voters for making this a worthwhile event.
Mayor Dave Ament and club president Pat McLaughlin
The state of our city
Mayor Dave Ament reviewed some of his accomplishments, as well as important changes in New Berlin during our meeting on March 8.
Ament stated that, as mayor, he has brought a "business-like approach" to running government. He said the city has controlled its costs, all the while expanding services and increasing staffing.
The City has made substantial investments in our roads, parks, buildings and equipment. Yet, there has been no increase in the City's portion of the property tax rate the entire four years he has been mayor. Under the City's Comprehensive Plan, the tax base and employment opportunities have increased. This was accomplished, Ament said, by attracting new commercial, industrial and retail businesses. But the City continues to preserve its "rural/suburban charm."
Recent business development includes:
- New Walmart store. Added $22 million to City's tax base
- Costco store added $18 million to tax base
- Reuse and expansion of a former sports warehouse at 126th and National. It's now a call Center for Aurora, and employs nearly 500 people.
- Denali Ingredients completed a $5.5 million expansion last fall, and is planning another expansion here in New Berlin in the next couple years.
- Redevelopment of and new businesses moving into City Center.
- Residential development is under way in Section 35--though land is being set aside for a conservancy and a 97-acre park.
The business-like model for governing, Ament said, means the city borrowed substantially less than it otherwise would have, lowering the stress the debt level puts on the City's budget. Last August, Moody's Investments Services assigned New Berlin a rating of Aaa--the highest rating possible, Ament said. This has allowed the City to refinance some older debt at a significantly lower rate, and get a more favorable rate on new debt.
Finally, Ament was proud to point out that in the past two months, New Berlin has been named one of the 25 safest cities in Wisconsin. A national study named the city one of America's 100 Safest Cities.