County highway projects one step closer to funding

Karen Madden
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS – A Wood County committee took the first step Tuesday in approving borrowing up to $4.85 million to improve county highways.

The Wood County Executive Committee unanimously approved sending a resolution to the June 17 County Board meeting. For the resolution to pass, it will need three-fourths of the Wood County Board’s members to vote in favor of it.

Wood County Board Chairman Lance Pliml, who also is a member of the Executive Committee, said he didn’t have a problem with sending the borrowing issue to the full County Board. However, he said he agrees with other board members who said officials need to look at how borrowing the money will impact other projects planned for the county.

The resolution is for the county not to exceed borrowing $4.85 million, Pliml said. The actual amount borrowed could be less.

“Maybe we can do $1.8 million or $2 million,” Pliml said.

The county’s roads are aging and budget limitations haven’t allowed the Wood County Highway Department to keep up with strengthening-type maintenance, Wood County Highway Commissioner Doug Passineau said. The roads weren’t built for the heavy vehicles and traffic loads currently using them.

There is a responsibility that comes with owning property, and part of that responsibility includes maintaining infrastructure, such as roads, said Trent Miner, Executive Committee chairman. Any development that happens in the county needs infrastructure, and the county is not keeping up with it, Miner said.

The county does need to look at the bigger picture, said Donna Rozar, Executive Committee member. County officials approved a tower project, which is a significant amount of money, Rozar said. Officials also are considering a future building project.

Miner said he wishes he could take the County Board members on a bus ride so they could learn for themselves the bad shape of some county roads.

The issue needs to be decided by the full County Board and not just the Executive Committee, Pliml said.

The Wood County Highway, Infrastructure and Recreation Committee is expected to consider co-sponsoring the resolution during its meeting 8 a.m. Thursday at the Wood County Highway Department, 555 17th Ave. N., Wisconsin Rapids.

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