Welcome to the campaign trail. It’s time for Wausau citizens to hear a real debate over policy, ideas, the future, and the record.
Over the last four months, I’ve listened to hundreds of people. I’ve listened to residents, large and small business owners, non-profit board members, people who have lived in Wausau for a long time, those who have moved away, city workers, community leaders and volunteers, transit users, rabble rousers, current and former elected officials, and folks across every political stripe and experience.
Overwhelmingly, people are proud to be from Wausau. They are excited for Wausau’s potential and the future. But they want more than a cheerleader. They want a leader. They want to know that their public resources are being invested effectively. They want to know that projects using tax dollars are subject to due diligence, economic development best practices, sound financial principles, and are helping the city grow.
They want to ensure that the next person they elect to the top executive seat in Wausau has strong management acumen, accountability, and will question the status quo. They want resilience, innovation, and responsibility at the heart of every policy, every project, and every penny.
Most of all, Wausau residents want to be heard.
Residents actually do care about the ratio of public and private investments in big projects. Taxpayers really do want to know how long before we can expect a payoff for the investment of our public dollars. Citizens desperately want to understand and untangle the TIDs and how they affect how the city budgets for necessities like snow plowing, police, and potholes.
Over the last few decades, we’ve seen a whole lot of progress in Wausau; things we should all be proud of. We’ve seen an explosion of the arts, thanks to the generous and creative forces of our predecessors. We’ve become a beacon for foodies and regional events. We’ve been recognized as one of the best Main Streets in the nation thanks to the efforts that started more than a decade ago.
But recently, we’ve seen some changes in how our city is managed. City debt is projected to increase 300% from only five years ago. Wausau’s credit rating remains downgraded. City leaders are taking out longer-term bonds that not only take longer to pay back, but involve more taxpayer dollars going to interest payments. We have environmental sites that haven’t had their remediation requirements adequately defined or addressed, posing unknown risks to potential developers.
That’s not strategic. That’s not progressive. That’s not setting Wausau up for long term success. That’s not listening.
I look forward to a discussion on the issues.
Katie Rosenberg, Wausau
Editor’s note: The views of our readers and guest columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot and Review. To submit a letter, email us at email@example.com.