Mayoral Candidate Responses – 2023
1. Please provide some personal background information (name, occupation, list any community activities you are involved with).
Matt Mugerauer: Name – Matt Mugerauer
Occupation – Operations Manager at 4imprint
List any community activities you are involved with – I am the current Deputy Mayor (2 years) and in my third term on City Council having been elected in 2018 and re-elected in 2020 and 2022. I chair the city’s Long Range Finance Committee, have previously chaired the Rental Housing Advisory Board, served on the Landmarks Commission and Public Arts & Beautification Committee.
As a lifelong resident of Oshkosh, I have deep ties to my community. I am a member of the Oshkosh Mid-Morning Kiwanis, an organization that I connected with through their global purpose – changing the world, one child and one community at a time. I have served as a youth sports coach for the Oshkosh West Basketball Club, Oshkosh Youth Soccer Club and Oshkosh Fast Club Softball.
Aaron Wojciechowski: Name – Aaron Wojciechowski
Occupation – Student Life Professional – Lawrence University
List any community activities you are involved with – Oshkosh City Council
2. What are your background and qualifications for this Mayoral position and what value will you bring to the position personally?
Matt Mugerauer: I have served on the City Council for five years, the last two as Deputy Mayor, am an Operations Manager for one of Oshkosh’s best places to work 4imprint and lifelong resident of Oshkosh.
I have great respect for the roles of City Council and Mayor. The Mayor’s main function is to effectively and respectfully run our City Council meetings.
As Mayor I’ll continue to bring the same passion for making Oshkosh a great place to live, work and play as I have as a Council Member. As a leader in the community, I find it important to be accessible and engaged in the community.
Aaron Wojciechowski: For the last seven years I have served the people of Oshkosh, first for two terms (four years) on the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors, as an educator for the Oshkosh Area School District, and most recently finishing up my second year on the Oshkosh City Council. I would bring organization, leadership, and empathy to foster collaboration and create a space where people feel welcomed, heard, and respected. As a younger person I also bring a unique perspective of how we attract and retain young professionals in Oshkosh.
3. Please outline what you consider to be the City of Oshkosh’s 3 most critical issues.
Matt Mugerauer: Budget: The most important issue facing the City of Oshkosh is our financials, our budget. Anything we want to do in terms of improvements to our infrastructure, parks and quality of life assets, public safety and transit all come back to our budget and how we pay for them. The continued reduction in state aid only increases the amount we need to bring in via taxes and fees to just maintain our current level of service.
While serving on our Long Range Finance Committee I have positively contributed to our debt reduction goals and will continue to do so.
Infrastructure: We have many needs in this community: infrastructure improvements including roads and utilities, facility needs for the Parks Department, City Hall, the Police and Fire Departments and the Museum.
We must find a way to support our needs and growth, while balancing the need to lower our debt, and not exceed limits placed on us by the State. It is a balancing act, one that I enjoy and am effectively helping lead us through.
As a council member every single taxpayer dollar we are entrusted with is important, and I will continue to ask the important questions to ensure we are getting as much bang for our buck as possible.
Housing: The City of Oshkosh does not have enough housing available. Over the last few years, we have seen increased attention by developers to build higher density housing in the downtown central city area, and most recently the west side of town, but we continue to need more single-family homes. While the Common Council and the City are not in the real estate business, and for good reason, we need to encourage single family construction. I have advocated for City Staff to consider alternative options, to be flexible and adaptable to different ideas to allow residential developers to keep Oshkosh moving forward, and I will continue to do so.
Aaron Wojciechowski: – Finding a solution to address the exorbitant costs of special assessments.
– Providing resources and solutions to combat homelessness in Oshkosh and increase affordable housing in general.
– Environmental justice (Improving sustainability, diversity equity and inclusion efforts)
4. What are the biggest challenges the city faces currently and in the next 5 years? What should the city do to respond and overcome these challenges?
Matt Mugerauer: Finances: Our single greatest challenge is how to pay for the things we need and the things we want. As previously mentioned, we have many facilities and infrastructure needs in Oshkosh that need addressing. Balancing paying down debt, taking on new projects, while keeping taxes as low as possible will continue to be our greatest challenge. It will take strong responsible leadership, which I have shown over the last five years as a council member.
Housing: As a community we must continue to grow. Oshkosh has very limited housing available. And if we want those who come here to work and learn, we have to have sufficient housing choices available. I’ll continue to support new housing initiatives.
Aaron Wojciechowski: The biggest challenges the city will face in the next 5 years is finding a reliable and sustainable funding mechanism to cover the ever-decreasing amount of shared revenue from the state. This will have an impact on city services, fees, utility rates, infrastructure, and resources. In addition, creating a welcoming environment for business and development to close the gap in affordable housing, finally, recruiting and retaining a young workforce are challenges we face now but will only be exacerbated in the next five years if we don’t act now.
5. Previous City Councils have considered proposals to change the policy on how to fund the current street improvement and sidewalk replacement program. Past proposals included establishing a Transportation Utility Fee Program or a Transportation Assessment Replacement Fee as a means to eliminate special assessments for street reconstruction/improvement projects and the sidewalk replacement program. Do you support this type of a program? If so, what should be the basis to establish a transportation fee? Please discuss your position.
Matt Mugerauer: I support a change to our special assessments policy to ensure those that are most vulnerable, homeowners and small business owners, no longer take on the lion share of the burden. Having spearheaded this issue during my first term on council, I will continue to advocate for a better, more equitable policy. Having met with business owners on numerous occasions over the last several years, I have had the opportunity to listen to their individual concerns and not surprising to me, they align with the concerns of homeowners. I understand big businesses such as large manufacturers can easily handle a large assessment bill from the city, and I respect their ability to do so. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should have too. And the same goes for the small business owners from Oregon St to Oshkosh Ave. Most small businesses do not have the ability to pay for large assessments for improvements to the roads in front of their properties. Roads that we all use and benefit from.
I appreciate the Chamber’s role advocating for its membership, and I look forward to working together to find something that we can agree will help Oshkosh continue to be a great place to live, work and invest.
Aaron Wojciechowski: When I first ran for Council, I supported the idea of a Utility Fee to help lower the cost on homeowners. Since being on Council, my thoughts on the topic evolved. While I still support the idea or at least exploring how we could find a balanced fee that benefits both residents and businesses, the fact is we can’t move on in without a potential lawsuit. So, it’s not a viable solution at the moment, that’s why we’ve directed the City Manager to keep exploring possible solutions.
6. Municipalities across the State are moving to Fee for Service approaches to pay for the delivery municipal services that were otherwise funded by the annual property tax levy. Do you support a funding approach like this? If so, what current city services would be appropriately funded as a Fee for Service? If a new Fee for Service is imposed, should property tax payers receive an equal, proportionate tax levy credit?
Matt Mugerauer: With strict revenue and expenditure limits imposed on municipalities by the state, we’ve had to get creative to just maintain our current level of service. There is a time and place for fees, especially for circumstance when someone exclusively benefits from a service.
I have continually advocated for lower fees. Such as my strong opposition to Special Events fees, that impact the Farmers Market and Waterfest, and will continue to advocate for limiting their impact. I’ve supported waiving of liquor license fees during covid to help many of our small businesses during such a tough time.
Aaron Wojciechowski: I think the way Oshkosh residents pay for services now is fine. It’s a payment model that I am open to exploring and learning about.
7. The City established a Storm Water Utility in 2003 for the purposes of managing storm water run-off issues in the community. Residential property owners are assessed for one equivalent runoff unit (ERU). Non-residential property owners are assessed annual fees based on the amount of impervious space (parking lots and roof tops) to determine the amount of ERUs that exists on a parcel. The initial (annual) storm water utility fee in 2003 was $19.10 per ERU and has grown to $237.72 per ERU in 2023. Do you find this rate of increase acceptable? Do you believe that continued rates of increases at that level over the next 20 years is acceptable? Please outline any ideas you might have to curtail the growth in storm water utility fees.
Matt Mugerauer: Storm Water Utility rates have gone up steadily over the last almost 20 years, but that coincides with significant work on our storm sewer system – to alleviate as much flooding of homes and businesses as possible when we have heavy weather events. I think we can agree the entire community has benefited from the projects those fees paid for. Recent analysis shows Storm Water Utility rates stabilizing as our larger projects taper off and we move into smaller targeted projects and maintaining the system. I’ve advocated for our Long Range Finance Committee to become more engaged in our Storm Water Utility budgeting process to ensure we have robust citizen input. And I recently supported using significant fund balance (cash) to reduce the rate increase required to support this next year’s projects.
Aaron Wojciechowski: I do not think this jump in cost is acceptable. Unfortunately, the new Clearwells project has greatly contributed to this recent rise in cost. Maintaining clean water standards, reducing pollution, and preventing floods is the goal and purpose of effective stormwater management but it needs to be equitable and realistic for residents to burden. Curtailing the growth in storm water utility fees will require partnership at all levels of government to identify and provide additional funding such as a Clean Water State Revolving Fund program. It will possibly require a reorganization of our city’s budgetary priorities which could mean delaying projects, and some creativeness with solutions such as green/sustainable infrastructure.
8. With a low unemployment rate and strong local economy, many employers are reporting difficulty in attracting and retaining talent. What is the role of the city in attracting people to Oshkosh an ensuring that Oshkosh is an attractive place to live and work.
Matt Mugerauer: Making Oshkosh a great place to live, work, play and invest is at the heart of why I am a City Council Member. Our role is simple and complex at the same time.
- Create an environment that is welcoming to business, allowing us to attract and retain.
- Ensuring we have strong quality of life assets, such as our parks, waterfront access and events that are welcoming.
- Supporting housing initiatives to ensure those that want to work here can live here too.
Aaron Wojciechowski: As a city we want to make Oshkosh an attractive place to live, work, visit, and do business in. This can be done in many ways such as having a thriving downtown and business sector, making our city codes less cumbersome and burdensome on developers and businesses. It is also recognizing that younger people want to live in communities that are more progressive minded and value areas like sustainability, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. If we want to have a diverse and prosperous workforce, we need to create a community that values those things.
9. The State of Wisconsin currently imposes levy limits on local municipalities, but allows for levy increases based on new development. Do you support the continuation of this? Should there be modifications? Should this be repealed? Please discuss.
Matt Mugerauer: It can be easy to just say yes, and not be critical when making decisions regarding tax dollars. I do believe the current levy limit system requires officials to make good, sound financial decisions come budget time.
But this issue is about local control versus state control. As a local elected official, I am responsible to the voters of Oshkosh. And I strongly believe we should be able to control our own destiny, based upon the needs expressed by our community. Madison has chosen to limit our ability to address the needs of this community.
Aaron Wojciechowski: The levy limits in practice are not a bad idea, but it does not work well if shared revenue does not keep on pace with the rising costs of living. The fact is as our shared revenue has continued to dimmish it is becoming increasingly more difficult for communities to fund more development. This will result in the need to either make cuts or increase current funding mechanisms or find new funding mechanisms. The first two are not ideal and the third option is a challenge in itself. I believe sustainable efforts and initiatives are one solution to generating new sources of funding but it’s not the final and only solution.