During the lead-up to the 2010 mayoral election, Jeff Scrima repeatedly pledged that he would serve as the mayor of Waukesha on half pay.
With the 2014 election approaching and Scrima now in the race, he revealed that since April 2010 he has put in $92,194 into the fund, more than half of his net salary of $184,035.74.
Shortly after being in office, instead of directly working for half of his salary, he created the New Day in Waukesha Fund. The fund is managed by the Waukesha County Community Foundation and serves as a way to give back his take-home pay and serve as a "catalyst community fund dedicated with providing vitality to the city."
"I believe in keeping promises," Scrima said in his only comment on the matter.
Kathryn M. Leverenz, president and chief executive officer of the Waukesha County Community Foundation, confirmed Scrima's contributions in a letter.
She said the New Day Fund has made grants totaling $59,422 for the following purposes: two entries for the Waukesha GuitarTown project totaling $30,160 — the first was for starting it up two years ago ($15,160) and the second was for GuitarTown II this year ($15,000) — restoring the city's Farmer's Market structure ($23,312) and for new gateway entrance signs to the city ($5,950).
Scrima noted that the GuitarTown organization, with community collaboration, has donated more than $140,000 to local charities over the last two years.
Improving city's entryways
But the most recent transaction of building gateways around the perimeter of the city was just approved by the fund. Scrima said this need was highlighted when the city adopted the Central City Master Plan in 2012 after a two-year study of the downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods.
"One of the major components of the plan is improving the arterial roads coming into downtown with a major emphasis on the Highway F gateway from I-94, which is perceived as being unattractive and confusing," Scrima said.
Scrima said the proposed entrance sign "goes a long way toward achieving this goal and will be the centerpiece of this effort to create a memorable pathway into downtown Waukesha."
According to renderings, the sign, which is constructed of high-quality materials including a painted steel arch, cut limestone caps and base and ashlar stone, is 24 feet long and 7 feet high. There are also four painted steel symbols representing Waukesha's history on the sign.
The materials used are consistent with materials used on the Riverwalk development and the newly constructed Carroll University to downtown Waukesha gateway on the northeast corner of College Avenue and Grand Avenue.
The sign has been reviewed and approved by the Central City Master Plan Memorable Pathways Implementation Committee, Redevelopment Authority and the Sign Review Board.
He said future plans for the fund include being a "catalyst for exciting new civic projects" with the city's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, La Casa de Esperanza and Carroll University.
While Scrima has given more than $92,000 to the New Day Fund to make these projects possible, others have contributed as well.
These include the Lato Family Foundation's $16,500, Waukesha philanthropists Andrea and Anthony Bryant's $10,000; Ron Kading, $45; and Donald E. Tewes, $100.
After interest and fees, and the grants, the New Day in Waukesha Fund sits at $57,053.
The annual salary for the mayor is established by a salary ordinance, which also has a $120 per month car allowance. In 2010, the salary was $70,100, before increasing to $73,100 in 2011, $76,100 in 2012 and $79,100 in 2013.
According to Human Resources Manager Donna Whalen, the mayor's net salary, which equals gross (salary plus car allowance) minus deductions for required taxes, required pension contributions and health insurance contributions from the time Scrima began his tenure to the end of 2010 was $33,899. It was $50,295 in 2011, $49,788 in 2012 and $50,052 in 2013.
The donations are not directly reducing the city tax levy and Scrima is giving half his net pay, rather than gross pay.