Village has enjoyed success when turning to outside consultants for professional expertise
Village of Saukville officials have become quite comfortable turning to outside experts for advice rather than paying to keep that expertise in-house.
The latest evidence of that strategy came last week when the Village Board approved contracting with the Wauwatosa-based consulting firm Mead & Hunt to provide planning and development services.
According to Village Administrator Dawn Wagner, the village will turn to the economic development specialists on “a project-by-project basis … (with the fees) dependent on the scope of the project and what staff is being utilized.”
The consulting firm traces its roots to 1900 and now claims a staff of more than 500 employees with 30 offices nationwide.
The firm’s diverse staff is well-versed in a wide variety of areas of engineering, but the village intends to draw on its background in economic development.
The village’s lead contact in the development area will be senior planner Dustin Wolff, who Village President Barb Dickmann said would keep an eye out for economic opportunities.
Wolff has provided planning services to 20 communities in Wisconsin and Illinois, including the Village of Grafton, and helped more than a dozen communities develop comprehensive plans.
He has 20 years of experience in urban and regional planning and an extensive background in community planning and redevelopment.
“We intend to work with Dustin Wolff to get us at the table,” Dickmann said.
“I want to see more development in the community, and I think it is important that the development be led by us. To grow and reduce the burden on our taxpayers, we need to be proactive rather than always being reactive.”
She said the connections available to the consulting firm could pay off in significant benefits for the village.
“Waiting for the market to come to us is not good enough. We want people to know our door is open,” Dickmann said.
In many ways, Mead & Hunt will be asked to provide the kind of economic contacts and business savvy previously provided by Marilyn Haroldson.
Haroldson, too, was an independent consultant brought on to assist the village with economic development after the position of community development director was eliminated.
Her month-to-month agreement with the village, which has not been renewed, paid $1,150.
A detailed rate schedule was included in the service agreement with Mead & Hunt, with the senior project planner to be billed at a rate of $163 an hour.
Hourly rates are also listed for such support services as clerical support, technical editing and technical consultation.
Among the services the firm will provide is economic development guidance to the Plan Commission and Village Board.
The firm may also be called on when zoning issues are brought before the Board of Appeals.
In addition, the consultants will assist with economic development and marketing efforts when asked.
Dickmann said going with a consultant is a cost-effective way to make sure the village receives current and sometimes highly technical information.
“It also allows us to avoid having to pay the full package of benefits that full-time employees expect and that can be cost-prohibitive for smaller communities like us,” she said.
Dickmann said working with outside consultants is one way the village “stays lean and mean.”
She said the village’s ongoing contract with Ruekert & Mielke for engineering services is a prime example.
That working relationship emerged after the full-time time position of village engineer was eliminated.
The village had been working with Ruekert & Mielke on specific engineering projects before expanding that relationship.
Yet another example of looking outside for help, has been the mutually beneficial arrangement the village has with the Village of Grafton for permit services, Dickmann said.
Building-related permits are handled by Grafton’s staff, with the fees collected used to cover those expenses.
“Our relationship with Grafton has worked out really well,” Dickmann said.