Waukesha State Bank, a full-service community bank with 14 offices in Waukesha County, has hired Avelina Poppert as vice president – commercial banking officer.

“We are pleased to welcome Avelina to our commercial banking team,” stated Tony Laszewski, Waukesha State Bank senior vice president – commercial banking manager. “Her extensive background in multiple aspects of commercial banking and loan processes, especially SBA 7(a) and the USDA business and industry programs, positions her well for helping local businesses succeed.”

Poppert has nearly 15 years of financial experience specializing in commercial banking, business development and treasury management. Prior to joining Waukesha State Bank, Poppert worked for a local financial institution as an assistant vice president – business development associate. In her new role as vice president – commercial banking officer, Poppert will be responsible for prospecting, developing and managing commercial loan portfolios. 

Poppert is active in the community currently serving on the community involvement committee with Tempo – Emerging Women Leaders and as a volunteer with Teens Grow Greens and Junior Achievement. She and her family currently reside in New Berlin.

View Bulletin Board.

By, Ally Bates

One Community Bank is proud to announce the recent promotion of Austin Kotlowski from Mortgage Loan Officer Assistant to Commercial Portfolio Manager. Kotlowski's main responsibilities at the bank include managing and servicing a portfolio of commercial clients. Kotlowski will work on maintaining and building strong client relationships.

“Austin’s role at OCB will be crucial in continuing to serve our clients,” stated Scott Hoerth, Market President – Oregon. “Austin’s finance background and experience will serve him well in his new role. We are thrilled to have him as part of the team, and trust in his capabilities of serving our clients.”

"I have enjoyed my time and growth in my previous roles at OCB and am very excited for this next step. I look forward to building strong, long-lasting relationships with our current and future clients in my new role," said Kotlowski.

Kotlowski has been with One Community Bank since 2020 and started as a teller. Kotlowski graduated from Winona State with a finance degree. In his free time, Kotlowski enjoys snowmobiling, boating, and golfing. 

View Bulletin Board.

By, Ally Bates

Long accused by consumer advocates of using overdraft fees to cash in on people’s mistakes, banks are taking a look at ways to make the cost of an overdrawn account less onerous for customers. 

The move comes as overdraft fees could be headed for closer scrutiny by regulators, and as traditional financial institutions increasingly face competition from fintech firms and products like Walmart MoneyCard. 

James Johannes, a University of Wisconsin-Madison finance professor, said “banks are rethinking how to generate fees in a more politically acceptable manner.” 

“At first blush I don’t see how any bank can extend credit without generating some sort of fee or interest,” said Johannes, who is director of the Puelicher Center for Banking Education and Aschenbrener Chair in Finance at the Wisconsin School of Business. “Fees are a four-letter word to many on the left, though, so banks are looking for ways to say they aren’t charging fees. One way is to call the overdraft a line of credit and charge interest.” 

A recent American Banker article pointed out that since President Biden took office this year, several large banks have announced major changes that will reduce overdraft fee revenue, while others are reconsidering the fees. Among possibilities are eliminating overdraft fees altogether or introducing new products offering less-expensive options to financially hard-pressed customers. 

In Wisconsin, one program aimed at attracting the unbanked and under-banked to the traditional financial services system already eschews overdraft fees. 

The Bank On Greater Milwaukee initiative, which is part of a national effort to make the banking system more accommodating to more people, was launched in 2019 as a program of the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin. 

Key features include accounts with low or no monthly costs, no overdraft or non-sufficient fund fees, and the ability to pay bills and make purchases. 

“We’re trying to get people away from the payday lending stores, the pawn shop – those types of things – and this was a way in trying on our part to do that,” said Tom Sattler, executive vice president at The Equitable Bank in Wauwatosa. 

Along with The Equitable, 12 other financial institutions have established accounts that are part of Bank On Greater Milwaukee: Bank Five Nine, BMO Harris Bank, Chase, CIBC, First Federal Bank, First Midwest Bank, Old National Bank, PNC Bank, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and two credit unions – Self Help and Summit. 

“No overdraft fees. That’s one of the keys,” Sattler said. 

There is no doubt that pressure is increasing for financial institutions in the U.S. to ease the burden of overdraft fees, said G. Michael Moebs, economist and chief executive officer at the economic research and consulting firm Moebs Services Inc. in Lake Forest, Ill. 

The pressure is coming not only from politicians, but from fintechs like Chime and Walmart MoneyCard, he said. 

Chime, for instance, which can receive members’ direct-deposited payroll checks into “spending accounts,” lets members make debit card purchases that overdraw their account with no overdraft fees. Limits start at $20 and can be increased to $200. 

“At Chime, we’re not like most banks. We believe in having our member’s backs and will allow you to overdraft up to $200 without charging a fee,” Chime asserts on its website. 

The Walmart MoneyCard also accepts deposits and offers more-accommodating and less-expensive overdrafts than most banks. MoneyCard holders can opt into a program that gives them 24 hours to fix a negative balance before they’re charged a $15 fee for each  purchase transaction that overdraws the account. 

A 2021 survey conducted nationally by Moebs Services Inc. lists median fees for an overdraft of less than $100 are various types of financial institutions: payday lender, $18.25; community bank, $26; credit union, $30; and large bank, $35.  

Moebs is among those who think banks need to reduce overdraft fees and raise overdraw limits. It actually will benefit them by increasing the volume of overdrafts, he said. 

What does Moebs think an overdraft fee should be? 

“Definitely less than $20 if you’re going to do it on a price per transaction,” he said. 

Moebs contends overdrafts shouldn’t be considered a great offense in the scheme of financial mistakes, but bankers have been trained to view them that way. 

“They’re an error. The vast majority of people do not want to overdraw, and it’s done unintentionally,” he said. 

Interestingly, during a pandemic that temporarily shut down much of the economy last year, overdrafts didn’t increase. They actually dropped by about 10%, Moebs Services data shows. 

Nationally, there were 991,350,053 overdraft transactions totaling about $31.3 billion in 2020, according to Moebs Services. That compared with 1,096,928,674 overdraft transactions totaling $34.6 billion in 2019. 

Experts say many people who were home last year carefully minded their money with the help of digital apps, and at the same time, were bolstered financially by government stimulus and increased unemployment funds. 

But even though overdrafts decreased last year, there’s not likely to be any let-up by consumer advocates concerning fees. 

In a webinar this month (July) that celebrated the 10th anniversary of the creation of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said overdraft fees remain an issue that needs to be addressed. 

“There are so many areas still where the bureau can make a difference,” Warren told webinar participants from Americans for Financial Reform, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the Consumer Federation of America and other advocacy groups. 

“I think one of them is overdraft fees. This is an area where there's a lot of predatory behavior by giant banks that make billions of dollars in profits and squeeze every last penny out of customers who are struggling,” Warren said. “And I think getting some rules around that could help families a lot.” 

Moebs said banks and credit unions should lower the cost of overdrafts for their own sake. 

“If they wait they are going to be losing checking account portfolio, and they are going to be losing it not to bank competitors, but they are going to be losing it to the fintechs like Walmart and Chime,” he said. 

UW-Madison’s Johannes called overdraft fees “a tricky issue” that can hit smaller banks harder than large ones because the community banks don’t have as many ways to generate fee income. 

“It’s a hornets’ nest of politics and profit,” he said. 

Paul Gores is a journalist who covered business news for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for 20 years. Have a story idea? Contact him at paul.gores57@gmail.com

By, Cassie Krause

By Rose Oswald Poels

On Tuesday, WBA Director – Government Relations John Cronin reported back after participating in an eventful day of visits of Governor Tony Evers; Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld and a team from DFI; and Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary-Designee Randy Romanski. Denmark State Bank (DSB) hosted the event with local farmers and members of the business community joining Denmark President/CEO Scot Thompson, board members, agribusiness lenders, and bank staff.

The visits were designed to be purely informative for the Governor, DFI, and DATCP. The hosts provided on-the-ground perspective for all attendees, discussed what they are seeing day-to-day, the ways they work collectively to be strong contributors to our state’s heritage and economy, and the challenges they face. Denmark facilitated the day – Collins Dairy and Riesterer and Schnell have long standing relationships with the bank.

This painted community banking in a very positive light and demonstrated their value to influential government officials and the Governor. Scot and his team did a tremendous job organizing and giving our industry visibility. It shows WBA members are actively engaged in what happens in state government.

Advocacy can take many forms, but this is one of the most effective. Activities like this go a long way with decisionmakers, and we encourage (and stand ready to help) our members engage in these types of events. “Take your legislator to work” visits are an effective tool to showcase our industry and work.

This type of activity helps your bank earn the BIGG (Bankers Involved in Grassroots and Government) Award, WBA’s highest award for advocacy. Help us unleash the power of our membership!

Images below:

A roundtable discussion at Denmark State Bank included a Q&A with Gov. Evers, the $100b impact of the ag industry on Wisconsin’s economy, challenges in the banking and ag industries, and an overview of the bank and its agribusiness focus. 

A visit to Reisterer & Schnell, a local John Deere dealer serving Wisconsin since 1931, was hosted by its CEO, Thomas M. Vande Corput, and included a tour of the store and discussion of farming trends in the area — for example, the role of technology over the life of equipment, helping farmers increase their yield and efficiency, workforce, education for the employment pipeline (WTCS, apprenticeships, and tuition assistance), and supply chain issues/timeliness (domestic and international).

Collins Dairy, LLC owners Kevin J. and Lisa M. Collins provided a tour and tasting as well as a discussion on dairy issues and the role state agencies can play in issues such as succession planning (average farmer age is 58), land/water conservation, technology, and workforce. They emphasized the key relationship between Denmark State Bank and the dairy and how they’ve worked together to grow. 

Community State Bank (CSB) and Browns Lake Aquaducks invite the public to a community food truck and water ski show event, “Dinner on the Dock”. Dinner on the Dock will be held on Thursday, August 5th, 2021 at Fischer Park in Burlington, WI from 4:30 PM until 7:30 PM during the Browns Lake Aquaducks Ski Show. CSB and the Aquaducks hope to recapture the excitement of the 2019 event which saw over 600 guests.

“Dinner on the Dock is a great community partnership with the Aquaducks,” said CSB Burlington Market President Becky McClelland. “We’re always searching for creative ways to bring our community together, and events like this are the perfect opportunity. Challenging circumstances last summer didn’t allow for us to host an event like this, so we’re excited to bring Dinner on the Dock back for 2021.”

The event will have food available for purchase and will feature delicious local creations from some of Wisconsin’s most popular food trucks and local artisans: All About Tacos, Mr. P’s Grilled Cheese, Trampers Oak Fire Oven, Pine Acres Popcorn, Kravings Ice Cream Shop, and Low Daily. Beer, wine and other non-alcoholic beverages will also be available for purchase on-site.

The Browns Lake Aquaducks will also perform two ski shows. The first, a Junior Show, will begin at 5:00 pm. The Main Show will begin at 6:30 pm.

“We’ve been Burlington’s ski team for over 40 years” said Emily Pavlich, Vice President of the Browns Lake Aquaducks. “The team is made up of local community members and are self-supported through fundraising and generous donations from many local businesses and guests. Dinner on the Dock gives us another opportunity to partner with a local business, and allows us to offer a more expansive event that showcases the talent of our team.”

Dinner on the Dock is open to the public and free to attend. No parking fees will be charged during the event hours at Fischer Park. For more event details or updates, please visit Community State Bank’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can also visit Community State Bank online at CSB.bank or learn more about the Browns Lake Aquaducks at Aquaducks.org.

View Bulletin Board.

By, Ally Bates

Prevail Bank is pleased to announce that Laura Deuso has joined the Medford team as Branch Manager. Deuso has over five years of banking, cash management, and teller supervisory experience, in addition to two-a-half years in office management and human resource management.

“We’re very happy to have Laura join the Prevail team in Medford,” says Renee Leinfelder, Senior Vice President of Retail. “Her years of customer service and banking experience will make her transition seamless. I look forward to working with her and watching her build relationships with our customers.”

“What impressed me about Prevail Bank was the fact that it has the feeling of a small community bank with a strong emphasis on customer care and engagement,” says Deuso. “I’m looking forward to coaching and developing my Prevail Bank team, so together we can impact every customer we serve in a positive way.”

Deuso, a 2005 Rib Lake graduate, is very excited to return home to Westboro, Wisconsin with her husband, Colin, and two sons. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with family, painting, fishing, cooking, and relaxing by a campfire. 

By, Ally Bates

The Wisconsin Supreme Court (Court) recently decided two cases to allow the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to place permit restrictions on large livestock farms and high-capacity wells as a way to protect Wisconsin’s water. The issue in both cases is whether DNR had the authority under Wisconsin law to issue permits with conditions. 

In both cases, the Court looked to language used in Sec. 227.10(2m) Wis. Stats. and determined that (1) agencies’ actions under administrative law need be supported by explicit, not specific, statutory or regulatory authority; and (2) that explicit authority can be broad in scope. As a result of the two decisions, DNR was given broader authority than many believed was permissible since enactment of 2011 Wisconsin Act 21 (Act 21) because the agency actions authorized by the Court are not specifically stated in the statute sections in question. The following is a summary of the two cases.   

Kinnard Farms  

In the first case, Kinnard operates a large, concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). Kinnard wanted to expand its dairy operations by building a second site and adding 3,000 dairy cows. The expansion required Kinnard to apply to DNR for reissuance of its Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit to include both the original site and the proposed expansion. DNR approved the application and reissued Kinnard’s WPDES permit.  

Persons (petitioners) living near the CAFO sought review of the reissued WPDES permit because of their proximity to the farm, had private drinking wells, and were concerned the proposed expansion would exacerbate current groundwater contamination issues. The petitioners alleged that the reissued WPDES permit was inadequate because, among other things, it did not set a “maximum number of animal units” or “require monitoring to evaluate impacts to groundwater.”  

DNR granted the petitioners a contested case hearing and the matters were referred to an administrative law judge (ALJ). Kinnard filed for summary judgment alleging DNR lacked statutory authority to impose the conditions, citing Act 21. The ALJ denied the motion and conducted a four-day evidentiary hearing during which community members who lived or worked near the CAFO testified about contamination of well water and the impact the contamination had on their businesses, homes, and daily lives. Based upon evidence presented by residents and experts, the ALJ determined that DNR had “clear regulatory authority” to impose the two conditions disputed upon Kinnard’s reissued WPDES permit.  

Ultimately the matter was argued to the Court. The issue in the case involved sec. 227.10(2m), Wis. Stats., which dictates that “[n]o agency may implement or enforce any standard, requirement, or threshold…unless that standard, requirement, or threshold is explicitly required or explicitly permitted by statute or by a rule that has been promulgated in accordance with this subchapter.” (emphasis added). The parties disputed the meaning of “explicitly required or explicitly permitted” in the context of DNR imposing conditions upon Kinnard’s reissued WPDES permit.  

Kinnard asserted that explicit means specific, and that in the absence of statutory or administrative authority, DNR must first promulgate a rule in order to impose the conditions upon its reissued WPDES permit. The DNR and petitioners counter that such a reading of “explicitly required or explicitly permitted” was too narrow, and that Kinnard had overlooked the explicit, but broad, authority given to DNR in Secs. 283.31(3) – (5) Wis. Stats. to prescribe such conditions.  

The Court first looked to dictionary definitions of the term “explicit” and revised Sec. 227.10(2m) in context and determined explicit authority can be broad in scope. The court next examined the text of Secs. 283.31(3) – (5), and related regulations, to determine whether DNR had explicit authority to impose an animal unit maximum and off-site groundwater monitoring conditions upon Kinnard’s reissued WPDES permit. The Court held that while the statute sections do not specifically state an animal unit limit or off-site ground water monitoring, DNR did have explicit authority to prescribe both conditions when it reissues the WPDES permit.  

The Court determined that (1) agencies’ actions under administrative law need be supported by explicit, not specific, statutory or regulatory authority; and (2) that explicit authority can be broad in scope.   

High-Capacity Wells 

In a second case, the Court also reviewed whether Sec. 227.10(2m) Wis. Stats. allowed for DNR to consider the potential environmental effects of proposed high-capacity wells when such consideration is not required under Sec. 281.34(4) Wis. Stats.  

For some types of wells, DNR is required to follow a specific process in its environmental review of a well application. For other types of wells, a specific process is not required; however, DNR often still considers the potential environmental impact of a proposed well when considering a well application. Eight well applications in dispute in the case where the type that no specific environmental review was required. DNR did have information that the wells would negatively impact the environment. DNR approved the eight applications knowing of the wells impact having concluded it did not have the authority to consider the proposed wells’ environmental impact. 

Clean Wisconsin and the Pleasant Lake Management District (collectively, Clean Wisconsin) appealed DNR’s action arguing DNR’s decision was contrary to the Court’s decision in the Lake Beulah Management District v. DNR (2011 WI 54, 335 Wis. 2d 47, 799 N.W.2d 73) case. In Lake Beulah, the Court held that DNR had the authority and discretion to consider the environmental effects of all proposed high-capacity wells under the public trust doctrine when it determined that a proposed well would harm other waters in Wisconsin.  

DNR argued the Lake Beulah court case was no longer good law because Act 21 had since become law and the law limits an agency’s action to only those “explicitly required or explicitly permitted to state or by a rule.” The eight well applications were for the type of wells for which there was no formal environmental review under Sec. 281.34 Wis. Stats. DNR had also relied on a past Attorney General opinion which stated the agency could not rely on the public-trust authority and could not rely upon the Lake Beulah case as that would not withstand the requirements under Wis. Stats. Sec. 227.10(2m) (OAG-01-16).   

With respect to the high-capacity well applications, the Court ruled in favor of Clean Wisconsin having determined DNR has explicit authority, based upon its broad public trust authority under Secs. 281.11 and 281.22 Wis. Stats., to determine the environmental impact of high-capacity wells despite the fact that Sec. 281.34 does not specifically state such requirement. The Court’s finding reaffirmed the Court’s Lake Beulah decision despite enactment of Act 21.  

Take Away from Cases 

The interesting and concerning parts of the decisions is that after the passage of Act 21, many took the revised language of Sec. 227.10(2m) Wis. Stats. to mean that for an agency to act, the action had to be specifically stated or provided for within statutory language or administrative rule. If the action was not within such language, the agency would first have to promulgate a rule or otherwise change statutory language for the agency to take the actions desired.  

However, given how the Court has interpreted “explicit” in the two cases, that may not be the case. It is possible that because of the two Court decisions, an agency make act regardless of the action not being stated within statutory language or administrative rule. Instead, it is possible an agency may rely on its broader authority for action.  

Financial institutions should keep the decisions of the two Court cases in mind when considering whether an agency has the authority to act in a particular manner. Financial institutions should be cautious that just because an action is not specifically found within statute or rule, the action may still be authorized under a broader, explicit authority. Despite the passage of Act 21, agency action could be broad.  

As is often the case, one should read the dissenting opinions of both cases. The dissenting opinions outline the concerns of many regarding how broad an agency may act despite Act 21, despite the fact the agency’s actions were not specifically stated within statute or administrative rule in connection with reissuing an WPDES permit or when approving the type of well applications involved in the high-capacity well case, and despite the Court’s previous decision under Tetra Tech EC Inc. v. Wisconsin Dep’t of Revenue, 2018 WI 75, 373 Wis.2d 2387, 890 N.W.2d. 598. The decisions appear to give back to agencies potentially broad authority.  

Conclusion 

In both cases, the Court looked to language used in Wis. Stats. Sec. 227.10(2m) and determined that (1) agencies’ actions under administrative law need be supported by explicit, not specific, statutory or regulatory authority; and (2) that explicit authority can be broad in scope. As a result of the two decisions, DNR was given broader authority than many believed was permissible since enactment of Act 21 and Tetra Tech. Financial institutions need be aware of the Court decisions and be cautious that just because an action is not specifically found within statute or rule, the action may still be authorized under an agency’s broader, explicit authority. 

Clean Wisconsin et. Al v. Wis. Dep’t of Natural Resources, 2021 WI 71 (Kinnard Farm) decision may be viewed at: https://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=386188  

Clean Wisconsin and Pleasant Lake Mgmt. Dist. v. Wis. Dep’t of Natural Resources, 2021 WI 72 (High-Capacity Wells) decision may be viewed at: https://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=385454  

By, Ally Bates

Waukesha State Bank, a full-service community bank with 14 locations in Waukesha County, is proud to announce the promotion of Gerry Benton to bank manager of its Meadowbrook Road office in Waukesha.

“This promotion is well deserved and reflective of Gerry’s knowledge and expertise,” stated Devon Arnold, Waukesha State Bank senior vice president – retail banking manager. “Her dedication to customer service and desire to connect with the community make her a natural fit for a bank manager role.”

Benton started her career with Waukesha State Bank in 2017 and has supported our E. Racine Avenue, E. Main Street and Downtown Waukesha locations as a Personal Banker. She has nearly 15 years of financial experience and is a 2020 graduate of the Waukesha County Business Alliance’s Leadership Waukesha County program. In her new role as bank manager of the Meadowbrook Road office, Benton will be responsible for all aspects of daily office operations, including business development, personnel management, customer service, lending, relationship management and community service.

Benton is active in the local community volunteering with Poplar Creek Church in New Berlin as a teen leader/mentor. She and her family currently reside in Waukesha

View Bulletin Board.

By, Ally Bates

PyraMax Bank is pleased to announce the following promotions: Maranda Baseler promoted to First Vice President System Administration, Robert Cooper promoted to First Vice President Bank Security and Facilities Officer, Shelley Hesiak promoted to Assistant Vice President Manager Commercial Lending Operations, Daniel Kempel promoted to Senior Vice President Manager Credit Administration, Karen Stroud promoted to First Vice President Controller, and Tammy Hanson promoted to First Vice President Compliance/BSA/CRA/OFAC Officer.

PyraMax Bank is proud to remain a local community bank that values its’ employees and continues to promote internally. In their new roles Maranda, Robert, Shelley, Daniel, Karen, and Tammy will continue to pursue PyraMax Bank’s mission of being recognized as a leader in our market as a depositor-owned community bank invested in the financial wellness of our families, business and communities, while still delivering financial products that serve a multi-generational client base.

While discussing PyraMax Bank’s recent promotion of multiple VP level employees Senior Vice President Chief Brand Officer Monica Baker states, “PyraMax Bank strives to promote from within and reward our existing employees with great opportunities for advancement.”

View Bulletin Board.

By, Ally Bates

Betty Eisenga retired from National Exchange Bank & Trust on July 2, after 47 years of service at the office located in Randolph. Eisenga was Vice President of Operations & Lending where she helped ensure smooth retail deposit operations, fostered an environment of excellent service and helped grow and support the banks presence in Randolph and the surrounding market.

Eisenga is active in the community as a part of the Randolph Chamber of Commerce, the Community Corn Carnival and the Holiday Bazaar. Additionally, she is a past member of the school board for Randolph Christian School.

Eisenga grew up in Randolph and graduated from Central Wisconsin Christian High School. She currently resides in Randolph with her husband, Jim.

View Bulletin Board.

By, Ally Bates