Racine County Eye asked candidates to fill out a questionnaire so that our readers could learn more about them. These are David DeGroot’s answers.
What position are you seeking?
Mount Pleasant Village President
How long have you lived in Mount Pleasant?
Mount Pleasant Village President, real estate interests
What motivated you to seek office?
While I’ve been on the Mount Pleasant board for ten years, and President for the last six years, there is more work to do.
My accomplishments have been many, focusing on economic development, quality of life issues like park and recreational opportunities, along with an eye on continuous public safety improvements to hold down crime and improve EMS response times. We are in a much better place than we were before I became President. We are shaking off the town mentality and becoming the Village we envision through our strategic plan, managed by professionals.
What do you think Mount Pleasant’s strengths are?
To name a few, Mount Pleasant Village staff are some of the most professional, caring people anywhere. Also, the Village is unique in that there is something for everyone. There are abundant parks, farmland, industrial, commercial and even urban areas. The quality of health services in Mount Pleasant is excellent. When a citizen needs emergency assistance, a qualified paramedic will respond within minutes of the call. We have been able to attract a state-of-the-art hospital to the Village.
Finally, during my tenure on the Village Board, we have been more transparent than ever before. For example, we now stream all our Village Board meetings on YouTube, we publish all supporting documents related to the Village business prior to meetings, we have created job descriptions for every Village employee and follow a compensation plan based on a professional market study. We send out a quarterly newsletter to keep residents informed.
What do you think Mount Pleasant’s weaknesses are?
Despite being a great place to live, work and visit, Mount Pleasant has its challenges. Due to agreements entered into decades ago, the Village sends a staggering amount of funds to the City of Racine on an annual basis. That makes balancing the budget a yearly struggle.
Also, the fact that Mount Pleasant is the second largest village in Wisconsin, geographically speaking, means that the cost of services such as road maintenance and snow removal is significant. Historically, Mount Pleasant did not effectively plan for its long-term future and growth. During my tenure, the entire government participates in strategic planning to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.
If elected, name three priorities you would want to focus on during your term.
Mount Pleasant now has the lowest tax rate in more than a decade. I will hold the line on taxes without cutting essential services. Second, continue to fully fund our Police, Fire and EMS, about 2/3 of our budget. Third, continue to find innovative ways to fund our parks and quality of life.
If you are proposing any new programs, how would you pay for them?
I am not proposing any new programs. I do, however, support continued investment into our parks and trails programs and public safety. To pay for these investments, I encourage our staff to find alternative funding sources to ensure the tax burden remains amongst the lowest in the area. For example, the Village has applied for, and is the recipient of, many grants that have helped our parks and trails.
Furthermore, our Tourism Commission has used funds paid by hotel rentals to upgrade the Pike River Pathway. Finally, our legal team has guided us through a class action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers which has resulted in extra funds going to our police, fire and EMS budgets.
If you are proposing cutting services, please explain why that would be a priority.
In Mount Pleasant, I have worked hard to ensure that the Village government provides its citizens with basic services at a high standard. We do not currently fund programs or services beyond what residents expect such as: police, fire, EMS, public works and parks & recreation. I do not propose cuts to any of those services.
Did the Foxconn project benefit the taxpayers in Mount Pleasant? Please explain your reasoning.
While Foxconn has not built what was originally promised, the project nonetheless benefits the Village in a number of ways. It has been repeated over and over that Foxconn is the largest taxpayer in Racine County for many years.
Here is why that is important:
First, Foxconn’s taxes pay significant amounts into our police and fire/EMS budget each year. Because of Foxconn, the Village has more police officers and paramedics on staff, in addition to millions of dollars’ worth of state-of-the-art emergency equipment.
Next, Foxconn’s taxes will pay for an additional fire/EMS station within the Village, which will continue to reduce our emergency response times.
Third, without the Foxconn project, we could not have extending municipal water and sewer to a huge portion of the Village, which had been a stated Village goal for decades. All these benefits while the taxpayers have been protected every step of the way. All, thanks to the TID we created.
Why should people elect David DeGroot?
The team I’ve already created is one I am best equipped to continue to manage. Creating a team of the best of the best doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because we have worked tirelessly to create a winning program where we attract the best talent.
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