Development, future budgets weigh on candidates' minds
Incumbents face challenger for Brown Deer Village Board seats
Brown Deer - Incumbents Jeff Baker and Gary Springman will compete with newcomer Otto Bunge for two seats on the Brown Deer Village Board.
Baker, a sales manager at STRATTEC Security Corporation and member of the Personnel Committee, Library Board, and Planning Commission, said the number one issue facing the village right now is its identity problem - that is, the effort to distinguish itself from the city of Milwaukee.
"I feel it's important to grow a sense of identity and a sense of community," Baker said. "It's a challenge."
A good start, he said, would be to work on updated signage and a village logo in an effort to slow motorists down as they travel through the Brown Deer Road corridor.
Bunge, retired from the finance and insurance industries, serves on the Fourth of July and Public and Traffic Safety committees. His top issue is low-income housing throughout the village.
He said as time goes on that such housing must be "very strictly controlled, because it could deteriorate the community."
Springman, a dispatcher at Commerce Industrial Chemical and member of the Personnel and Finance committees, as well as chairman of the Park and Recreation Committee, said that re-election would allow him to "see things to completion."
The candidates have varying takes on how Brown Deer should encourage development or redevelopment, especially in the Brown Deer Road corridor and Original Village area.
Springman said the village needs to help push the Original Village to "become what it can be," conceding that development throughout the village is tough given the lack of developable properties. He said he trusts the village's planning department to make good decisions when it comes to any developments or redevelopments.
"That's huge, to have staff be very good at what they do," Springman said.
Beyond opposing any additional low-income developments, Bunge also said he would focus on the Original Village.
"I would be in favor of moving that along," Bunge said, "of getting it done quicker."
He added that he would like to see a grocery store move into the now-vacant Lowe's building on Brown Deer Road.
Baker said the village needs to keep an eye on vacant properties and fund improvements to Bradley Road and Teutonia Avenue. He said he would be in favor of something like a Business Improvement District to fund updates and upgrades to improve the look of the Brown Deer Road corridor, though the board would need to consider the businesses.
"We have to be careful we don't burden the businesses," Baker said. "There's a balancing act there."
In the coming years, trustees will also have to deal with flat revenue for the most part, if the tax levy freeze continues for another two years as included in Gov. Scott Walker's 2013-15 budget proposal.
If elected, Bunge said he would look through future budgets item by item, "to really analyze where something can be accomplished without spending too much."
He added that if he had to prune a budget he would make sure the community remains safe and "favor decisions that benefit the community."
Baker said he would see if the village could extend the life of things like police vehicles to thin capital budgets, and otherwise looks for small reductions throughout the budget.
"There's no end in sight (to restricted revenues)," Baker said. "You have to try to control your costs and squeeze where you can. We don't have a silver bullet on this."
Springman said the first step to budgeting will be to keep an eye on the Legislature as time goes on.
"It's going to be hard, as it has been for the last few years," Springman said. "A lot of it's going to be driven from Madison."
He added that cuts he would make, if any, would be ones which would minimize any impact to village services.
Trustee candidates will participate in two upcoming forums:
The Brown Deer Junior Woman's Club hosts a School Board and Village Trustee Candidate Public Forum at the Brown Deer Community Center, 4355 West Bradley Road, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday.
And the Brown Deer Citizens for Responsible Government hosts a School Board and Trustee candidate forum at Brown Deer High School, 8060 North 60th St., from 9 a.m. to noon March 16.
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