Steve Braatz, Jr, Village of Mukwonago Clerk-Treasurer
Describe your current government position.
Municipal Clerk-Treasurer for a medium sized community. My main focuses are election administration, tax collection administration, license administration, agendas/minutes/meeting packets, ensuring compliance of open meetings law, administration of governance procedures, and, of course, customer service. There are a variety of other tasks that I am involved in, including risk management and liability, worker’s comp, and auto insurance maintenance, information technologies, utility billing management, general office management, assistance with bond issues, assistance with budgeting, and special assessment maintenance, to name a few.
Why did you accept a public administration position?
My former boss (the Clerk-Treasurer at the time) recruited me to work here while I was in high school. He was my Boy Scout leader at the time. A few years later a full time clerical position opened up, and that is how I started. I was eventually groomed to take over for my former boss at the time of his retirement, which happened 10 years after I started full time. I moved up the ladder as the years went on, becoming Clerk-Treasurer permanently in 2012.
How has MTAW helped in your career development?
The education alone was very important in my earlier days. It continues today as MTAW assists the Treasurers with updates on the ever changing laws. Most importantly however, I have met a great number of Treasurers that I count on (we count on each other) for information and knowledge. MTAW is a great networking association, which is paramount in the career of a Treasurer.
What is the most challenging aspect about your current position?
Dealing with the ever changing landscape of politics. Laws change from year to year, and trying to determine the impacts on our organization and attempting to implement these law changes is time consuming and difficult.
What are you most passionate about as a leader in public administration?
I take great pride in ensuring the public is as informed as possible. I welcome differing opinions on matters, but I like to make sure those opinions are based on facts, not conjecture.
Describe the most interesting experience you have had in public administration?
Every day offers an interesting experience. Though not the most pleasant of experiences was dealing with a $285,000 shortfall due to an assessment error. Many man hours over the course of three years were spent trying to figure out the situation. The State helped in end by allowing municipalities to exceed their levy limits for one year, allowing us to tax for the amount that was supposed to be taxed initially.
What is on your wish list or agenda for the next 5-10 years for your municipality?
I hope that the Village continues on stable financial ground. We currently have an administration that believes in higher level goals that will positively impact the Village’s financial well-being for generations. The Village Administrator, Finance Director, and I seek to continually educate the current and new politicians on the impact of their decisions. Always on the agenda is finding new and innovative ways finance our operations.
Share a proud job-related moment.
I serve as chairperson for the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association New Clerk’s Committee, of which I help teach new Clerks (many who are also Treasurers) a high level overview of the duties of a Clerk. Every year is a proud six hours seeing the new faces in our industry. In 2016, we taught a class in northern Wisconsin as part of a new Up North Conference. Many of these Clerks and Treasurers have never attended training or received much formal training. The vast majority were very appreciative of the classes we taught. I was proud of our team for conducting the trainings to these Clerks and Treasurers who really needed it.
How or where do you like to spend your time to recharge yourself?
I love to take vacations outside of the State/Country. Cold, warm, it does not matter. As long as there are fun things to do and good friends to do it with, I can recharge my battery easily.
What three words best describe you?
Kind, thoughtful, helpful.
What advice/tips do you have for new treasurers?
Don’t be shy. There are plenty of treasurers out there willing to help you out. Don’t stress out. There is ALWAYS a solution to a problem. And stress is not good for your psyche.
Anything else you want to share with the MTAW membership.
No matter how experienced you think you are, continuing education is extremely key in our world. Most, if not all, of our duties are derived from State and local laws and policies, and those are always changing. Be helpful to your fellow Treasurers. There is a great deal of things that have been “because it has always been done that way.” That does not mean they have been done correctly, and many Treasurers need help in correcting these mistakes.
Three favorite websites.
The Legend of Phantom Lake: https://phantomlake.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/legend-of-phantom-lake/
The Elegant Farmer: http://www.elegantfarmer.com/
Mukwonago Community Library: https://www.mukwonagolibrary.org/