Editor's note: Jim Dobbs and Duane Michalski are vying for a seat on the Caledonia Village Board. The election is slated for April 5. Here are Dobbs' answers to several key questions.
Born and raised in Racine, Jim Dobbs, 53, of 5314 Agatha Turn, attended Washington Park High School and graduated in 1976. He pursued a business degree for three years at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Clair and at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside until 1981 when the Racine County Sheriff’s Department hired him as a deputy.
Six months later he became a law enforcement officer with the Racine Police Department. He rose through ranks without a degree and just retired this year as a lieutenant. Dobbs purchased his first home in Caledonia in 1982 and built a home in Caledonia 17 years ago.
Dobbs does not see himself as a politician. He sees himself more as a manager that can help make things happen.
Why are you running for this position?
As I neared retirement, I was looking for something to keep me occupied. I’ve always been interested in government, but I never had the time to devote to it. I’ve always been in public service and I have learned a lot about how things work. I’m comfortable with working together to solve problems and that’s what I will bring to this position.
How would you characterize the village's financial position? What challenges face the village and how would you address those challenges?
Everyone is feeling the pain at the local level with the loss of shared revenue and we’re just learning how much we will lose. There are several options: cut services, or raise revenue through new development or increasing taxes. Over the last few years, local governments have tightened their belts and we need to decide what services we want cut. This is an unfortunate thing, but I will work with the board and listen to ideas.
With that said, our society has gone more towards sharing services through consolidations. I would look at look at working with the fire and police departments to see where we might consolidate services with our neighbors. We have to look at helping each other. We’re all in this together and we need to work together. We cannot continue on the path we are headed. I would also work with department of public works as well. I’m not privy to all of the inner workings, but I ask a lot of questions. Consolidating some services may not work, but we at least have to look at it.
What is your position on development?
Future growth, or smart growth, is one of the most important things for us to look at right now. We need to continuously develop ideas on where we want to go, but we also have a land use plan. It’s a good solid document that outlines where we should go for development and we need to follow that plan.
Our prime business areas, as outlined in the land use plan, are I-94, Hwy K and Douglas Avenue. For the I-94 corridor we need to bring in long-term businesses that can bring in higher taxes. We need to focus on the best possibilities, but we’re not ready to do that without sewer and water. Right now what we’re getting in are little businesses who don’t employ a lot of people and there’s just not a lot of tax revenue there. We need to decide as a community what to do about that because if you don’t have sewer and water, that’s what you get.
Sewer and water would likely be a key element in how the Village might grow. Would you support sewer and water expansion in the village? How would you pay for it?
We have to have sewer and water. And with the work that is going on with I-94, we could parlay that work with our work since they (the DOT) are digging up the road anyway. We could also start the bid process for construction companies to do the work and because of the economy you are seeing companies taking lower bids and the cost of borrowing is low. That’s a perfect opportunity. We need to get leaders together, figure out how to do it, and talk about it.
Several years ago, Mt. Pleasant extended sewer pipes down Highway 20. At that time, Caledonia negotiated a deal with them to oversize the pipe to accommodate a future hookup along I-94 in Caledonia. We agreed to pay $5 million for this when we decide to hookup. Interest is currently being added onto this $5 million dollar figure. The longer we wait to hook up, the higher this figure will be. We need to decide when (or if) we are going to do this.
With regards to tax incremental finance districts, it’s my understanding that the taxes generated would go towards paying for the development. That’s a gamble, but in order to create jobs in this economy right now you need to roll the dice. Sometimes you have to invest to make money…. But we also need to project how much better off if we would be with the taxes to make that decision.
Curious to find out how Duane Michalski answered these questions, .