Sister Bay Village President

Denise L. Bhirdo

Age: 46

Education: Graduate of Gibraltar High School

Occupation: Co-owner of Bhirdo’s Gas Station & Convenience Store with my sister Michele

Previous Elected Office: Village Trustee for 3 years; Village President for over 12 years

Relevant Experience/ Civic Involvement: TKH Community Ice Rink Board of Directors; PLACES (People Land and Community Economic Solutions) Board of Directors; Door County Visitor Bureau Board of Directors; Sister Bay Advancement Association Board of Directors; Attended the Governors Conference on Tourism annually for six years; Plan Commission; Fire Board

Finance Committee; Parks, Property & Streets Committee; Economic Development Committee; Public Relations Committee

Solid Waste Committee; Comprehensive Utilities Plan Action Committee; Bay Shore Drive Reconstruction Committee; Administrative Committee; Municipal Taxpayers Commission; Festivals Committee

Why are you the best choice for village president?

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.” This is my philosophy.

I made a commitment, when I first ran for trustee, to dedicate myself to the village. The longer I serve the more I want to contribute. During my 15 years of service, I have grown as an individual as well as a leader. I am extremely passionate about the village’s future progress and my contribution to it.

Are there services that the village provides that should be cut or scaled back to save money? Are there services the village should take on?

Services are the backbone of any community. They are a selling point as to why someone would consider living in the village. I would be hard pressed to single out any of the village’s services that are not already economically sound. Everyone who lives in Sister Bay has their own views on where the village could reduce spending. Some say we spend too much on fire services, the library, parks programs, waterfront property, and the list goes on. It is my job, along with the other six trustees, to find a balance on what is good for the village as a whole and for the long term of generations to come.

The Village is expanding the marina with additional docks and commercial services. The Marina Committee has viewed the commercial services as more important to the business community than the additional revenue that would be received from regular seasonal slip rentals. The visitors to the village can take advantage of the boating services provided by the commercial operators. Those visitors spend more money in town than a standard seasonal renter. The marina has become an important source of revenue for the general village as well with the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT).

Rubbish disposal and recycling will cost the village about $103,000 in 2011. We could save that money and have each individual pay for their own disposal. Although the research we have done proves it would cost our residents more to contract directly with a waste removal company than for the village to contract as a whole community.

I have proposed that the village expand its recycling efforts for holiday decorations. This year, after the white holiday lights were removed from the village trees and buildings they were taken to a recycling center. Next season we will be accepting citizens Christmas lights free of charge, and we also have plans to pick up individual Christmas trees at the curb and have them chipped into mulch. I believe these will be services our residents will appreciate and the additional expense will be nominal.

What other issue or issues are a high priority for the village in the term ahead?

• Downtown Redevelopment

As chair of the Plan Commission, I have overseen the continual review of our development requirements to insure that the village encourages appropriate growth and redevelopment. We are constantly discussing which regulations are actually needed and which impede good growth. In the B-3 district (downtown) changes have been made to make development more streamlined, giving developers more guidance as how the village would like to develop. These changes make it much easier for someone to develop their property. There are more permitted uses than ever before, setbacks have been reduced, height restrictions have been increased, an Architectural manual of design has been created, parking requirements have been reduced, and the list goes on. If our village does not grow it will die. We patiently wait for the economy to turn around so the village will begin to grow again. Many of the changes are intended to encourage growth to happen more quickly. The Plan Commission has been the advocate for workforce housing, which is now being built off of Koessl Lane. Both buildings are sold out, which clearly demonstrates the need is present and the Plan Commission is working to see still more affordable housing is built. Through growth our community will become more vibrant and as development occurs we should see a reduction in our property taxes.

• Water Quality

The water quality of our beaches and aquifers is one of the main issues facing all of Door County. Our water is a treasured resource that we need to safeguard. Quite a few years ago the village created a Wellhead Protection Plan to help protect our drinking water. Now as we move forward into relaying the sanitary sewer and water mains, we will also be addressing our storm water outlets. The village currently has six outlets; they are located within our beach area and marina. Several years ago, the Village added a storm water treatment tank (vortex cleaner) to the outlet near the beach area. Storm water passing through this is cleaned of debris and small particles, therefore making the storm water much cleaner as it exits into the bay. The village will be looking at how to clean more of our storm water at these other outlets. This beach has remained open while others in the county have been closed due to water quality issues. One of our priorities with the DOT project is to insure that storm water from the state highway does not pollute our beaches or marina.

• Reconstruction of Highway 42

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is planning to reconstruct Highway 42 within the village in the next couple years. The village will upgrade sections of the sanitary sewer and water main, which are near capacity and at the end of their functional life and relaying the sewer and water main downtown, before the DOT begins their construction. The entire downtown project includes more than just the sanitary sewer and water. The other issues that will be addressed are installing new storm water facilities, burying the overhead wires, and installing new street lighting and sidewalks. In order to save time and money it is imperative that the village coordinate with the DOT so that both projects minimize the disruption to the village and some of the village design elements can be integrated and paid for by the DOT. This work is will be a continuation of the CUPAC study and Waterfront Master Plan recommendations.

What is the number one thing that can be done by the board to make the village a better place to live?

• Vision

I believe the vision that the village board has endorsed over the last several years such as the purchases of waterfront property, has been a true testament to the quality of life we want to see in our community for all who live and visit here for generations to come. I believe that my leadership role has been significant. I do not back away from difficult choices. Looking forward and not backwards is the only way the village can continue to evolve. The planning and outreach done by the village for the Waterfront Master Plan is indicative of how the board approaches problem solving. Communicating the vision of a vibrant, waterfront based village with strong business districts, recreation facilities for all ages, with public facilities like the library and fire department serving the young and old is a continual challenge. The board has established a Facebook page, newsletter and web site as a means of communicating that vision as well as an avenue for encouraging valuable feedback from the public. If the board can continue on this path, I see nothing, but good things for the future of our village.

Rich Hill

Age: 57

Education: 15 years architectural design and business admin. plus more than 37 years of real world learning.

Occupation: Business owner, commercial and residential developer, manufacturer, designer, and inventor.

Relevant Experience/ Civic Involvement: Organized the 411 direct legislation petition. See at

-My past and present experience spans over thirty seven years of developing, planning and building residential and commercial projects spanning the country from the Great Lakes to the California coast, including large and small residential communities, light industrial, commercial retail, institutional hospital and laboratory facilities. In addition, I also developed a company called EcoDock llc, an ecologically sound docking and marine conveyance systems company.

Why are you the best choice for village president?

First, unlike my opponent, I believe that the village voters must have the final say by way of referendum ballots on important issues such as spending, borrowing, tax increases, and village planning proposals, especially when the spending and development plans will have a long term financially burdensome effect for every village taxpayer and business.

Secondly, I have far and away more leadership experience, administrative know-how, and planning expertise than my opponent. The village is at a financial cross road that requires leadership with a new normal. My leadership will be to empower the voters and to limit the trustees from ever conducting Village business with the deliberate disregard for the voters and tax payers as they have in the past.

Are there services that the village provides that should be cut or scaled back to save money? Yes

Privatizing services is a viable proven solution to reduce government costs. That’s what most companies do. Example: If business has a lawn to take care of, it does not set up a parks department. They hire a contractor to maintain the lawn and irrigation systems. These contractors have the equipment and labor and the experience to handle the task for far less cost and without the village taking on more employees and all the expense therein. Now repeat this simple formula in other areas, and you end up with better service and less cost. Why? Because the contractor understands it will lose the contract and be replaced if the job is not performed properly.

Are there services the village should take on?

Not without a referendum passed by the entire electorate. Government is the most inefficient provider of any service because government spends $4 dollars to do a $1 dollar job. Let me give you an example: The village board approved a motion to send out a questionnaire about, of all things, the village building a commercial kitchen to rent out. To do this they allocated $2,500 that paid for one printing and one mailing.

In contrast: For my write-in election campaign I allocated $1,000 that paid for two full color two sided printings, two mailings to the same people, a website, email address, six lawn signs, two custom spiral notebooks, one custom election tote, and three custom pens – all for exactly $899.

What other issue or issues are a high priority for the village in the term ahead?

First: Pass ordinance 411 that limits the trustee’s powers to spend, borrow, and tax without a referendum of the voters.

Second: Reconfigure the village meetings so the voters can have a two-way conversational town hall with the elected officials.

Third: Stop all closed-door meetings except those required by Wisconsin law. Next, place Internet video/ audio cameras in the village meeting hall to provide live streaming video through the Village web site. This will provide more access for all to see, hear, and record the village meetings. The meeting would then be available to watch at any time or date.

What is the number one thing that can be done by the board to make the village a better place to live?

Lower the property taxes. This is complicated only because of the Wisconsin taxing system. However, the village can re-evaluate all property assessments to a realistic level and from this point forward limit property tax increases to 1 percent per year of that re-evaluated starting point. When a new sale occurs that sale price only increases or decreases that properties taxable starting point. We must look out for those with limited budgets. It is unwise and unfair to permit high property taxes that compel residents to move out of the village.