By Mayor Dennis McBride
In Wauwatosa and across America, our spirit has been sorely tested over the past two years. Now, we have hope that the pandemic is behind us. Through it all, our community has remained strong and vibrant.
In February, AARP named Wauwatosa its seventh “age-friendly” community in Wisconsin, recognizing our investment in safe, walkable streets, green space, better housing and transportation options, access to key services, and opportunities for residents to participate in civic and community activities – a great living environment for people of all ages.
Despite the pandemic, the City’s 2022 budget maintains our strong AAA debt rating and prepares us for future challenges while enhancing public services. We are reducing the City’s debt and the City portion of residents’ property tax bills (about 30% of the overall bill) is at its lowest level since 2011. Wauwatosa also received $24 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to promote public health, address the negative economic impact of the pandemic, and invest in road, water, and sewer infrastructure. After months of careful listening to residents about how this ARPA money should be spent, we are moving forward with infrastructure improvements and other programs that will benefit all residents for years to come.
Because of our central location, job growth, and beautiful neighborhoods, people are flocking to live in Wauwatosa. Unfortunately, proposed apartment developments have divided residents over the pace of change. While redevelopment of old industrial and commercial sites helps us to overcome the negative impact of the state’s property tax levy cap and maintain our public services, we are continually trying to balance the need to remain financially strong and welcoming to all people with the need to preserve our strong neighborhoods. It is a delicate balance to which all the City’s staff and elected officials are dedicated. The strength of the disagreement is an indication of how much we all love our hometown.
Finally, we have much to look forward to as we wend our way through spring into summer. It’s hard to believe, but Tosa Tonight’s concert series has been providing summer fun for more than 20 years. Recently, it announced that it is expanding the number of its free weekly concerts at Hart Park. That’s something to applaud, and we’re looking forward eagerly to fully celebrating Memorial Day, Independence Day, and summer festivals as fully as ever.
Owners of homes and businesses continue to invest in Wauwatosa and our population is growing. People have faith in our future. As we return to normality in 2022, let’s remember to be extra patient and care for each other. We’re all doing the best we can.
Wauwatosa is a true community. We will continue to move forward if we do so together.