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 Michalski's answers to several key questions.
Duane Michalski, 43, of 4715 N. Green bay Road, has lived in Caledonia for 17 years. He grew up in Franklin and works as a truck driver.
How would you characterize the village's financial position?
It’s pretty stable, for now. I think there will be potential stress though with the shared revenue cuts. But we have a great staff in Caledonia, who have already had salary cuts and pay more for benefits. We’re just going to have to get creative to deal with this.
What challenges face the village and how would you address those challenges?
I think there are cuts to be made in discretionary spending. If we make the equipment last a little longer, it would be the difference between spending $200,000 to $5,000. But a lot of the problems we have with our budget will be contingent on what we get for development.
What is your position on development?
I’m pro development. Growth will be the catalyst that will ease the tax burden in Caledonia. If we become a little bit more proactive with development along Interstate 94, Douglas Avenue, Highway K, and Highway 31, things will get going. If we get the development we need, it will stabilize our tax bills. I’d like to see a zero percent increase next year. As far as TIF – I think if it’s designed and done properly, they can be very successful.
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?
TIF districts are a good option. The best way to do that will be having the village come to grips with what we need to do as village. For as along as I’ve lived in Caledonia, we’ve been talking about getting water and sewer. Some want it, some don’t – but we as a village have to determine what we want to be.
If we do want to move forward with sewer and water, there needs to be an agreement with Oak Creek about water and Mt. Pleasant with sewer. We need to get together with all of those communities we need to figure out the real cost because I’ve heard numbers ranging from $15 to $50 million. Then we need to know how much are you looking to get out of it. I don’t think we know.
Also, we need to find grants from state and federal agencies for grants. I’m truly a fiscal conservative, but this is one of the things that I’m conflicted over. We have to address the bottom line. We can raise taxes, finance these projects using a TIF and have it pay for itself, or use federal or state funding. And I’m pretty much looking at the TIF and State/Federal route.
I would never vote for increasing property taxes for anything. Between RUSD, the county, and Gateway, we don’t need to add to it with the village.
What should the long-term goals for the village be?
We need to decide our direction -- are we’re going to stay rural or are we going to stay rural with some development?
We also have to look at changing the land use plan. That document was done years ago. And it’s a plan. Things change. It’s not written in stone. I’d like to see if we can reduce the land requirement and find some balance so that everyone can be happy.
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