By: Ryan Altman
JEFFERSON – Lake Mills and Concord will receive new satellite Highway Department facilities following the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors’ approval at Tuesday night’s hearing.
Of the county’s total 2014 budget, $17.89 million will be dispersed between various Jefferson County Highway Department construction projects, including two 12,500-square-foot facilities in Lake Mills, an overhaul of Concord’s existing facility and the completion of a main highway facility in Jefferson.
The initial cost of construction for the Lake Mills stations was projected at $1.5 million with each satellite facility costing $750,000. However, following the board’s approval, costs were negotiated down to $500,000 per site. Included in the overall costs for both locations are unisex bathrooms, private wells and a septic system.
Concord’s renovation remains at the original $950,000 price tag.
“It’s an expensive investment,” County Administrator Ben Wehmeier said. “But there’s going to be an increased demand in services.”
When finished, the three locations will serve as permanent homes for various winter emergency response resources including snow removal vehicles and salt sheds.
County supervisors also approved funding for the final stretch of construction on the Jefferson main highway facility. The county is borrowing $3.98 million in general bonds to cover the remaining work on the $15.25 million project, which Wehmeier hopes to be completed by April 1.
Dave Wagner, a financial representative of Ehlers, the company in charge of the satellite project’s public finances, said that by reducing the Lake Mills construction costs to $500,000 per site, the 2015 tax rate for the debt incurred will drop from .195 percent to .188 in 2016.
As for the old highway shop in Jefferson, an $875,000 demolition plan exists, but there are no immediate plans for any demolition, sale, or restoration, as they remain open to future development opportunities.
Supervisor Amy Rinard was one of several board members opposed to the need for additional satellite facilities. Rinard cited that Jefferson already has four existing facilities, questioning the necessity for two more to be built.
“If having two satellite facilities increases response time and efficiencies, why doesn’t having four satellite facilities result in greater efficiencies and greater reductions in response time,” Rinard said.
Highway Commissioner Bill Kern recognized slow response times and ineffective plow routes as the main reasons behind the need for the new locations.
“The existing sites, based on where they were placed many years ago, are in very inefficient spots,” Kern said.
Kern added that centrally-located satellite facilities would reduce the number of workers needed in any given winter emergency, help limit the amount of snowplow route overlap and possibly save the county thousands of dollars in the future.
Between Lake Mills and Concord, Kern indicated that potential savings could be well over $40,000.
Supervisors John Kannard and Carlton Zentner also raised objections to Kern’s proposed savings, expressing concern about the real benefits the county would experience going forward. They believed the costs of construction and borrowing of money overshadowed any potential future savings.
“In 50 years, we wouldn’t even break even,” Kannard said.
“I think the timing is particularly bad… We don’t have to spend all that money,” Zentner added.
Other items on Tuesday’s agenda included:
- Approved a resolution to purchase an upgraded dispatch system for the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office from General Communications for $281,467
- Authorized agreement for transportation planning services for a portion of Jefferson County including the Milwaukee urbanized area
- Approved a resolution in memoriam for Kathleen Groskopf, who served on the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors from April 1996- April 2002 and May 2003 to February 2007
- Proclaimed March 13 as K-9 Veterans Day
- Proclaimed month of April as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month