Sunday, February 5, 2012

5 Questions With Village Trustee Candidate: Steve Soukup (I)

The Village of Bellevue will be holding a primary election on February 21, 2012 to nominate the candidates who will compete to fill two Trustee positions open this spring. In an effort to educate Bellevue residents, the candidates were given the opportunity to answer five basic questions regarding their campaign.

Below are the responses from incumbent Candidate Steve Soukup.

Question #1: Can You Tell Us About Yourself?
My name is Steve Soukup and I have been a Village of Bellevue Trustee since 2004. I’m originally from the east side of Green Bay and graduated from Preble High School. I went on to college and graduated from St. Norbert College with a degree in Business, with a concentration in finance and management. In 1984, I married Lisa Stipe, a Green Bay East High and St. Norbert graduate. We have been married for 27 years and have 2 children. Our son, Kyle, is pursuing a graduate degree in journalism after graduating from UW- Milwaukee. Our daughter, Kaitlyn, is a freshman at UW- Madison and wants to become a veterinarian.

We moved to the Village of Bellevue 22 years ago for the low taxes and built our dream home on one of the beautiful lots available. We are so fortunate to live in a great neighborhood and a safe village. We also own a Bellevue based business called NEW Documents & Labels, Inc.. As a small business owner I have the flexibility to do the duties of a Village Trustee.

I am a current member of the Bellevue Business and Professional Association. I have coached many sports over the past 20 years including little league baseball, Green Bay YMCA youth programs, Edison Middle School Cross Country and finally Preble Cross Country as an assistant coach.

Question #2: Why are you running for municipal office?
As a current Village of Bellevue Trustee since 2004, I’m running for re-election to continue to serve the citizens of Bellevue. I believe in giving back to the community you live in. It can be giving your time at your church or helping at your child’s school. Whatever you do helps build the strength of the community.

My passion is to continue to serve the citizens of Bellevue as Village Trustee. I ran for office in 2004 because I was concerned about the image of the board in Bellevue and that the property taxes would increase as we went from a town to a village.

In the early 2000’s, many citizens and business owners had negative perceptions of local governments. I brought professionalism and a positive attitude to the Village of Bellevue Board. I continue to be out in the community working with citizens and business owners to help with their issues and make sure that all employees of the Village of Bellevue are open and positive with everyone they encounter.

Regarding property taxes, I have a reputation of being a financial conservative. I want to make it perfectly clear that I did not vote for the tax increase in the last budget. I voted no because there were opportunities to cut more.

Question #3: What is the single biggest issue Bellevue faces today or will face during the next few years?
Tax control. This has been my number 1 priority since I was elected Village of Bellevue Trustee in 2004. We will continue to see cuts from the State of Wisconsin and have federal mandates put on us without any money to pay for them.

The Village of Bellevue lost $135,000 in revenue sharing and transportation aids from the State of Wisconsin for this year’s budget. We can make up the difference by cutting expenses, increasing our tax base through commercial growth or raising taxes. I was not in favor of raising any taxes and voted against that for 2012. In 2011, our commercial growth was about 10 million dollars or about $27,300 increased revenue for the future. The only way to control taxes is to cut expenses.

Regarding tax control on public safety services, we have a very good financial business model for fire protection. The financial cost to run our fire department is very low but the level of service is one of the highest in the nation. Our police protection through the Brown County Sheriff’s Department is efficient and cost effective compared to having our own police department. Now with the Brown County Sheriff’s Department residing in Bellevue, we have a greater presence of police protection. I will not cut the level of service in the area of public safety.

Question #4: What is your view about how local government should operate?
I believe that local governments should operate like a small business. The Village of Bellevue has approximately a 4 million dollar budget. Being an owner of a small business in the Village of Bellevue I have the knowledge and expertise to take that strategy to local government. I have been using that philosophy in everything I do for the Village of Bellevue since 2004.

When times are really tough like they are today, successful local governments and small businesses will excel if run properly. First, you need a good product. The Village of Bellevue is a great place to live and has a low cost of living. Second, you need to operate efficiently and keep your expenses low to sell your product competitively. The Village of Bellevue has a comparatively low tax rate compared to other local governments in the area. Third, and most important, is service. You can have the greatest product and a competitive cost but you will fail without quality service. The Village of Bellevue has the highest service in the area for public safety and I believe every employee is doing all they can to give you the service you deserve and have paid for. If not, please let me know.

Question #5 - If you could say one thing concerning your campaign, what would it be?
I believe that the future for the Village of Bellevue is bright. The last two years have been difficult for families, businesses and the Village of Bellevue. I see many positive signs. We aggressively pursued new businesses and see expansion of others. Examples include: 1) the remodeling of Target and addition of a Starbucks inside; 2) construction of a new shopping complex on the land in front of Target; 3) a major $3.3 million dollar expansion of KI, Bellevue’s largest employer.

The future is bright for the Village of Bellevue because we are finally upgrading GV South (Monroe Road) and EA South (Huron Road portion.) This will help economic development and make the Village of Bellevue safer to travel.

Another positive sign is that we did a Five Year Financial Management Plan for the first time in our history. We spent many hours looking at not one year, but five years, like businesses do.

Finally, the future is bright for the Village of Bellevue because I will continue to demand that property taxes stay low if re-elected. I have a proven voting record over the past 8 years of voting against property tax increases.