Village Report to Chamber of Commerce – Jan 2020
Happy New Year! The new year brings fresh new opportunities for the Village and Chamber to collaborate on strengthening your businesses and our community. Before we can do that, I want to provide some information on Village happenings in the latter half of 2019 that Chamber members may be interested in.
Public Services helped the Chamber with road closures for Fall Festival. They also helped beautify the Village with installation of seasonal decorations, enhancing the experience for residents and guests. Though we saw some ice and snow in early Fall the crews helped clean up, the later part of 2019 was good. Winter in Wisconsin has been in full force this month though. As always, remember to keep your sidewalks cleared for the safety of your customers and employees. Speaking of sidewalks, the sidewalk circulation plan and guidelines are being reviewed and updated to help plan for future needs of our community.
The renovation to office space on third floor of the Municipal Building was completed. The Recreation Department has moved into their new location in the lower level the Community Center. The renovated space provides the needed space for the expanding department and opportunity for additional programming. The old police station\recreation department building has been sold to a developer. The old fire station demolition work continues, with parking lot installation beginning this Spring.
Plan Commission reviewed numerous new and ongoing projects that could add additional commercial and housing options to the Village. Highlights include several residential developments, a mixed/affordable rate multi-family building, and a potential light industrial\technology park development.
Utilities: The new Water Pollution Control Facility site is online, with future focus on the system that feeds the facility. The Electric Utility is doing a good job of keeping the lights are on (squirrel-related outages have dropped) and plans for new substation in several years continue. The Water Utility has kept the water flowing, dealing with several main breaks and working on preventative planning. 2019 was a good year for low water loss in the system, a sign the maintenance efforts are working and keeping your costs down.
Tourism Commission: The Tourism Commission (responsible for overseeing Room Tax funds) continues utilizing the Mount Horeb Area Chamber of Commerce as the entity to help bring overnight visitors to our community. The Chamber presented information on its recent activities and efforts and plans going forward.
Finance and Personnel: The Committee heavily focused on the Personnel side of its mission, especially with recent and upcoming planned retirements and addition of new staffing needs. With the lead of staff, the committee reviewed recommended changes to employee benefits to cost effectively remain competitive for attracting and retaining quality employees.
The budget process was relatively easy this year, as growth in the Village in addition to the foresight of previous budgeting processes has allowed for a minimal Village tax increase. Future budgets look promising as debt continues to be paid off and our commercial tax base grows. As always, we strive to provide excellent services, infrastructure, and amenities that residents and visitors continue to expect while being good stewards of your tax dollars. Our fair market value tax rate continues to be below the county average (in the lower third actually).
Village Board: The past several board meetings have been informative and busy. From the usual review of comprehensive plan amendments, zoning changes, and licensing to the more in-depth process of the 2020 budget and Capital Improvement Plan, the board continued addressing the needs and opportunities of our community. We saw an unfavorable decision by the Public Service Commission that pushes the Cardinal-Hickory Creek High Voltage Transmission line closer to reality. Though there are several legal challenges that other municipalities, including Dane County, are pursuing, the Board is not taking direct action but encouraging further citizen engagement.
The latter part of 2019 was also busy with the Board and Department heads coming together in sessions for strategic planning, mission review, and goal setting. We are looking forward to sharing the finalized outcomes in 2020. The Village also worked with the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadRep) to develop strategies towards improved economic development in the Village. A summary of results were presented in January and set for discussion and action in February on how we can be more proactive in economic development.
As a Village Trustee, I believe open communication is vital to a successful community. That includes understanding the wants and needs of our business community, represented by the Chamber of Commerce. Your membership and participation in the Chamber is important for our community’s success, so thank you! As always, please reach out to discuss any ideas or concerns of your business.
Here’s to a great 2020 and beyond!
Mount Horeb Village Trustee and Chamber Liaison
*Note: the statements above made are my personal and professional comments as liaison to the Chamber, not official statements from the Board or Village staff.