JUNEAU — The third try was no charm for the Dodge County road loan as a minority was again able to block the move. The move to borrow $10 million was defeated 24 to 5 – one vote short of the number required to pass.
A three-quarters vote of the 33-member elected body would have been required to approve any borrowing. Four members were absent, counting as no votes. The absent members were Sups. Dan Hilbert, Ben Priesgen, Travis Schultz and Kira Sheahan-Malloy.
The highways department managed last year to use $9 million to repair or replace 33 miles of roads. Planners had hoped to do the same this year given historically low interest rates. Finance Committee members also cited an urgent need to catch up on long-delayed projects and the hope of once again achieving a 25-year replacement cycle for all county roads.
The second-year bond issue of $9 million was rejected, as was a revised plan to get half that amount. On Tuesday, the Finance Committee presented a plan to borrow $10 million to account for a $500,000 increase in interest charges over the past two months.
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After a lengthy debate over whether the matter could be legally pursued, County Council Chairman Russ Kottke decided it could be considered despite its similarity to previous resolutions. According to company attorney Kim Nass, no county council rules were violated, nor was Roberts’ bylaw.
Supper. Dave Guckenberger urged board members to deny the request and for the county to use existing funds to drive as many miles of road as would allow. A total of $3.5 million in highway department funds could be combined with $1.7 million for a roof repair (to be delayed for a year) to achieve at least part of the desired goal.
“The highway committee as we sit here today still won’t do it, neither the highway department nor this county will commit the money we already have to fix the roads,” he said. Gukenberger said. “We just identified $3.5 million and we have $1.7 million that we’re not going to use to fix the roof. What is wrong with us that we will not spend this money to fix the roads. All these arguments about fixing the roads and our reaction is, “We’re not going to take our money.” We are going to take taxpayers’ money. If we start spending the money they already gave us, that’s all I ask. Simply commit the sales tax money that is paid to the Highways Board each year to pay the interest on the loan. But see, we don’t want to take it from there. We want shiny new buildings and shiny new trucks.
Supper. Cathy Houchin accepted.
“There’s a plan on how to work on our roads this year (repair but not replace) so I’m not going to vote for that,” Houchin said. “I believe there is money in our budget if we look. We have already raised almost 4 million dollars in one month. I think now is not the time to ask people for more money. They can barely afford to put gas in their cars.
Supper. Jeff Caine said: ‘There doesn’t seem to be enough money in the operating budget to maintain the 22 miles of road we have to do to maintain our system. This resolution is an opportunity to get a little head start, so hopefully we’ll have a better opportunity to use the funds available through sales tax and levies, grants and other means to keep the system in somewhat decent condition.
“Without the $18 million, we wouldn’t be on track to replace roads every 25 years,” Sup said. Lisa Derr. “I know people think it’s embarrassing to come back to this question. I find it more embarrassing that we are not funding the replacement of our roads below this standard. It’s $10, $15, $20 per property tax bill. What is the alternative? When their cars start breaking on impassable roads? It’s one of the best interest rates we’ve seen in 50 years. It was better in January but still worth doing.
The pre-sale estimate for this year’s bond issue is 2.49%. Last year’s bond issue was sold at an interest rate of 0.74%.
“We delayed this over technicalities and the fact that the members weren’t present,” Sup said. Dave Frohling. “For two months, interest costs and inflation have essentially cost Dodge County taxpayers $1 million. It’s time to end this. Vote for it. Build the roads. Save taxpayers money in the future.
“When we started with this plan, we had 150 miles of bad roads,” Sup said. Dick Fink. “With that, we would have 60 done. In 2023, there are more roads that need to be replaced. They are already in very poor condition. In the past two years, we haven’t made much effort to fix it, so it’s really dysfunctional. Repairs are very expensive, so if we have to repair the 28 miles we were denied, we will lose another mile in costs to repair those roads. It keeps multiplying when you don’t.
Supper. Mary Bobholz said, “I get really frustrated when people say it’s only $12 on the property tax bill. We’ll have that added next year, plus we had a referendum in the town of Beaver Dam to do town roads, plus the Beaver Dam school district raised our taxes by about $200. Now you want to add another $12. It costs people hundreds of dollars. People can’t afford to keep adding these extra fees. People are all in favor of fixing the roads, but not so happy knowing that there are only 20 miles of them.
“I think if we wait things will go down.”
There was an audible moan in the room.
“I think it’s embarrassing how these supervisors treat other supervisors and we’re asking taxpayers to keep paying through their noses,” she added. “We had a prayer before this meeting. Has anyone listened but me? We just need to settle down. »
- The board approved a rule allowing virtual attendance at meetings up to three times per year.
- An order has been approved to show that the council will support the Office of Public Health, especially given the hardships of the COVID 19 pandemic.
- The Dodge County Council Chairman’s salary and compensation was approved at $1,000 per month plus per diem.
- Applause was given to board members Allan Behl, Jeff Berres, Joe Marsik, Tim Kemmel, Tom Nickel, Tracis Schultz and Russ Kottke who did not run to retain their seats in the April 5 election.
- It was learned that chief financial officer Dave Ehlinger had resigned, citing his commute from Watertown to Juneau as a factor.