"The Stevens Point Sister City program & the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partnership started well before my administration. Mayors & even Council members have taken trips to our sister cities for decades," Mayor Mike Wiza writes from Gulcz, Poland.
Mayor Wiza Continues, "Like Mayors before me, I think those relationships are important, & the things we learn and share help make our community a better place to live."
"As part of the City budget, the Mayor's office has budget accounts for various things like training, public relations, education, office supplies, and so on. I share the account with our Administrative Assistant. It covers seminars, conferences, and even things like the cash prizes for the trash can painting contest. This budget also covers dues and memberships in groups like the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and Sister City International."
"Most of the costs for me to visit our Sister Cities are covered under this budget, too. Airfare, transportation, and lodging are covered, just as they would be for a conference. Even food could be covered, but I always have to eat, so I usually pay for that out of my pocket, as I do with other incidentals."
"We left Stevens Point with members of the Polish-American Heritage Society, who all paid for their own trip, as did my wife. This trip is not over, obviously, but will cost around $2,000 for me, including the gifts for our friends here like pins, pencils for the students, and some other Stevens Point-related things."
"I have never exceeded the overall budget that is approved by the City Council."
"Some may argue that there is little benefit to this trip, or we could spend the money on other things, but I believe the value we get is significant. Public Relations is designed for creating awareness and exposure. Just by you taking the time to read this, we’ve done better than an ad in a newspaper. People from outside Stevens Point can see this - it brings attention to our community and demonstrates our ability and desire to be diverse, welcoming, and open. That's Public Relations."
"There are some more tangible benefits, too. We learn while we are here. In one day, staying with the man who was an engineer here for more than 30 years, we saw how he dealt with infrastructure that's older than he is, how they clear snow and avoid road damage, and how they treat and distribute water with almost no money. We bring these ideas back home, just like we would from a conference. But here, it's real world, firsthand knowledge."
"We also share culture. Our heritage lives here. We remain connected to it through people, relationships, and interaction. The whole town of Golcz prepared for our arrival, they opened their homes and shared their food and their stories. We are part of this community and they are part of ours. They visit us, and we visit them. Over the many years of these partnerships, we’ve exchanged students, teachers, and even business. We brought awareness and economic benefits to Stevens Point."
"I’m proud to be in a long line of Mayors who understood that, and am happy to carry on the tradition."