Hoerth takes the helm
New city administrator in New London
By Robert Cloud
The New London Common Council named Chad Hoerth as its city administrator.
Hoerth had been serving as the interim city administrator since May 21.
Previously, he served in several positions on New London’s city staff.
Hoerth moved to New London in December 2007 when he was hired as the park and rec director.
His initial responsibilities included overseeing all aspects for parks, recreation, aquatics, senior center, senior transit, urban forestry and management of all city facilities.
“In late 2017 when the previous public works director left, I was approached by the mayor and council president to talk about restructuring and trying out the concept of combining the Public Works and Parks and Rec Department,” Hoerth said
In January 2018, his title changed to director of public services, and he was also given responsibility for the street division and waste water treatment plant operations.
Hoerth’s achievements as a city manager have included creation of the New London Jaycees Dog Park, development of the Bernegger River Walk, creation of the Hatten Stadium Foundation and improvements to Hatten Stadium, construction of the new municipal garage, construction of the new library/museum ramp, implementation of online recreational software, improvements to the city’s cable broadcasting services, development of the Community Gardens at United Methodist Church and Trinity Lutheran Church, major mechanical system upgrades at the New London Aquatics and Fitness Center, organizing the Fourth of July fireworks and creation of new playgrounds at Hatten, Pfeifer and Franklin parks.
Hoerth also managed improvement projects on Division Street, Cedar Street, Northridge Drive, the Klatt Road utility extension and the railroad crossings at High Street and Industrial Loop Road.
“Financing is by far the largest challenge for the city,” Hoerth said. “We’re not alone, most municipalities are in the same boat.”
Hoerth noted health insurance, construction and other costs are all on the rise.
“The city is also limited by levy limits and expenditure restraints, so the ongoing challenge has been and will continue to be how we can continue to keep city services going, as costs rise with limitations and restrictions on revenues,” Hoerth said. “We need to continue to be innovative and creative with our revenues to continue our services efficiently but have a tax rate that is competitive with other communities.”
Because people look at a city’s services when deciding where to move, Hoerth said, “Standing out and being competitive in those city services is still very important.
Recruiting and retaining quality employees is another major challenge the city faces.
“Over the years we’ve seen a drastic drop in the number of applications for some open jobs,” Hoerth said. “In the past I’ve seen open positions have 30-50 applications submitted. Today for some positions, if we get 5-10 we are lucky.”
Hoerth said New London is competing with larger cities that can pay more.
“So we’ve experienced the situation where we hire new applicants, give them some great experiences for their resume, then they seek out different opportunities in larger communities,” Hoerth said. “That has an effect on our service and costs money in time and resources if we’re constantly recruiting and training employees.”
Retaining qualified, long-term staff benefits the city financially and helps maintain a quality level of public services.
I don’t want to make light of the fact that the city has many dedicated employees that have been with the city for 15-plus years. That core team has been instrumental over the years – especially in the past two years, dealing with situations like the July 20, 2019 storm and COVID-19.”
Hoerth said COVID-19 continues to be an ongoing challenge for the city.
“We’ve seen a whirlwind of changes and expectations due to COVID-19 over the past year,” Hoerth said. “We’ve had to create and train employees on new policies and procedures, increase cleaning of city facilities and implement new technology with Zoom and You Tube for our city meetings to stay safe but still be transparent to the public.”
Another consequence of the pandemic has been the city has been required to restrict special events and recreational programs to prevent mass gatherings.
“These programs and special events that the city and nonprofit groups hold each year are extremely important to the economics of New London,” Hoerth said. “Without those events, businesses and nonprofits together saw a major decrease in revenue.”
Hoerth hopes the situation improves and the events can be back up and running.
“When I was looking into the New London Parks and Rec director position 13 years ago, I was extremely impressed with the quality of leisure and recreational program opportunities the community had. That’s an asset we need to continue to market,” Hoerth said.
City staff also work to share information with the public.
“If one really wants to know what’s going on, it’s very easy to find almost everything on the city’s website or Facebook pages,” Hoerth said. “We’ve also got some great in-house talent with employees finding creative ways in getting our message out with awesome Facebook advertisements and new videos.
“We’ve got a ways to go, but we’ll continue this effort to market New London as a great place for business, great place for leisure and recreational opportunities and great place for educating our youth.”
A 1994 graduate of Chilton High School, Hoerth earned a bachelor’s of science degrees in fitness and sports with a minor in business from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in the spring of 2000.
To earn his degree, Hoerth worked as a fitness and facilities intern at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana during the `1999-2000 academic year.
From the fall of 2000 to December 2007, Hoerth was the Park and Recreation director in the city of Brillion.