Come Tuesday, Riponites will get a multiple-choice question to determine the city’s path.
Who will the next leader of Ripon be: Jason Kauffeld, Craig Tebon or incumbent Mayor Gary Will?
To help voters make an informed choice for their mayor, the Commonwealth sent questionnaires to the three candidates.
Here are the questions and their responses, edited for clarity and length:
Ripon’s taxes are higher than most neighboring communities. What tangible benefits should Riponites see from paying a higher tax rate?
Will: “[My] 2017 tax bill was $2,431.92 ... My house is only 945 square feet, three bedroom, 1.5 bath. At first glance, you might think $2,431.92 is not too bad, but when you consider my square footage, it seems high, right?
“My opinion is that it is not for a house with only 945 square feet. The city portion is only $864.92 ... and for that I get running water and sewer, streets maintained and plowed, police, fire and EMS service, garbage and recycling, parks, etc. ...
“So, yes, my tax bill is high for the house I have, but when you look at the city portion of my tax bill and all the services that are provided, I would say that taxes are low in Ripon ... As elected officials, we have control over the city portion only.”
Kauffeld: “Comparing Ripon to other communities through a single measure such as tax rates does not account for numerous factors which impacts a community’s budget.
“For example: Ripon has a failed development project that will ripple through our budget for years, Green Lake has highly valued real estate and is the seat of county government, Fond du Lac is seat of county government and is home to a [University of Wisconsin]-system college, Waupun is home to a state prison, Princeton government earns over $1.3 million a year of revenue through their electric co-op ...
“That said, what tangible benefits do I expect to see at the local level from paying my taxes?
“A safe and secure voting system that protects democracy; safe drinking water supply; excellent school, library and park system; modern, maintained infrastructure; a social safety net; beautified, thriving downtown and business corridor; fire and public safety service; support of entrepreneurs and businesses.”
Tebon: “You don’t have to travel far to find a community that is struggling and not as appealing as Ripon. If we have a higher tax rate, we should receive better services.
“First and foremost is public safety, and our crime rates are relatively low compared to other similar communities.
“In addition, we have a well-trained and equipped fire department, and our residents enjoy curbside brush pickup, weekly and bi-weekly garbage and recycling pickup (respectively), and free access to the compost center.
“Our staff have done a great job of ensuring that most of our services continue even after having to cut their budgets in recent years.”
Read the full story, including responses to additional questions, in the March 29, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.