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Road Funding Question Arises Again

By Staff | Nov 1, 2011

After discussing the issue of funding for repairs to a road running through Huston Park several weeks ago, another discussion was held on the topic during Tuesday’s meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors. Palo Alto County Conservation Director Art Hampe appeared before the board to continue the discussion and ask for some direction to take to his board on the issue.

Hampe had appeared before the supervisors several weeks earlier to discuss the resurfacing of 350 Avenue, a county road that runs through Huston Park on the east side of Lost Island Lake. The road is in need of resurfacing due to age and traffic, according to Hampe. When he first discussed the topic, Hampe had explained that a seal coating of the roadway had been estimated at approximately $24,000, using limestone chips. At that time, the supervisors and Hampe had agreed that regular pea-rock would be a more economical choice, and Hampe agreed to get pricing for the work with the new option.

Tuesday, Hampe reported that the project would require 200 tons of pea-rock, at a cost of $3 per ton for $600. The actual seal coating would cost $19,500 per mile, and with the total road running 1.1 miles, Hampe reported the cost would range from $23,500 to $24,500. That cost would include some additional leveling work on deteriorating spots in the roadway.

The resurfacing project had been brought to the supervisors’ attention a year earlier, at which time, the board agreed to set-aside $12,000, half of the costs, to be placed in the budget for the current year and a like amount for the next fiscal year to cover the project costs. But, when the budgets for the current fiscal year were prepared, the money was not included into the budget.

Hampe explained that with reconstruction work being planned for County Road B63 between West Bend and Mallard, some land owned by the Conservation Board had been identified as a borrow pit location for the road project by the Secondary Roads Department. County Engineer Joel Fantz had offered $11,000 to Conservation for the rights to use the borrow location as part of the road project, which the board was in agreement with.

“What I need to know to tell my board is if the money is going to be there to do this project,” Hampe said.

“I’d move that we budget $14,000 for next year’s budget to be sure it doesn’t get overlooked like this year,” Supervisor Ron Graettinger said.

“I guess I don’t know where the $14,000 is going to come from,” said Supervisor Ed Noonan. “I know where $11,000 is going to come from for the work.”

“We said last year we were going to do this and we didn’t,” Graettinger said.

“Joel and the road project need that borrow,” agreed Board Chair Keith Wirtz. “It’s the right type of material and it’s in the right location. I don’t see a problem with that.”

“My board needs to know and Joel needs to know right away,” Hampe said.

“I can remember we’d talked last year about putting like $12,500 into the budget for this, but it just didn’t happen,” Wirtz agreed.

“We didn’t say not to put it in, it just didn’t happen,” Noonan agreed.

Wirtz noted that at the present time, the board couldn’t come up with the funds for the current year’s budget.

But Noonan raised a question. “If this is a county road, then why not fix it out of county road funds?”

Hampe answered. “If a road runs through a park, then the Code says we have to close it at 10:30. We’d like to put gates at the ends of it but we can’t because an old Board of Supervisors said it was a county road and we couldn’t gate it.”

“I’m confused,” Noonan admitted.

“Me too,” Hampe said. “I’m between two boards here, you guys and my board. They don’t want to wait two years to fix this road, and Joel doesn’t want to wait a week to find out if he gets a borrow or not.”

Graettinger reiterated his desire to see the funds budgeted for the next budget year, and Supervisor Leo Goeders agreed.

“It’s not the money thing that I object to,” Noonan said. “We all agreed when we took office that we were only going to do budget things during budgeting time and this isn’t budgeting time.”

“If you’d allow me to put the funds from camping revenues into the Conservation trust fund, rather than the county General fund, that could help solve this.”

“If we do that, you’re getting even more into your budget, what, $13,-14,000 a year,” observed Supervisor Jerry Hofstad. “I don’t agree with that at all.”

After a few moments, Wirtz called for a vote on Graettinger’s motion to approve funding for the repair to 350 Avenue in the 2012 County Budget. Graettinger, Goeders, Noonan and Wirtz voted aye, with Hofstad voting against the motion and ending the discussion.