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Dodge County to borrow $9.2 million for road projects

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JUNEAU — Road preparation and repair may start rolling out soon as the Dodge County Board approved the sale of $9.2 million in general obligation promissory notes.

The board approved the move Tuesday night with a 28-3 vote. Supervisors Betty Houchin, Dave Guckenberger and Mary Bobholz voted against it. Two board members were absent

An online survey in July and August was promoted in area media outlets and online, urging taxpayers to participate. The survey was posted on the Dodge County website. A total of 672 people responded, showing a majority in favor of spending more on Dodge County roads.

Four options were presented. Option 1 includes no borrowing and continuing to improve approximately 10 miles of pavement per year (29.3 percent in favor). Option 2 includes borrowing $6 million to improve approximately 17 additional miles of county highway (12.9 percent in favor). Option 3 includes borrowing $12 million to improve approximately 34 additional miles of county highway (17.6 percent in favor). Option 4 includes borrowing $18 million to improve approximately 51 additional miles of county highway (40.2 in favor).

Two bond issues – each for $9 million – are to be approved, with money to be obtained through a debt service tax levy.

“I’ve heard many times from people that are concerned about road conditions, whether they’re city streets or county roads,” said Highway Commissioner Brian Field during an earlier interview. “The way I see it is that nearly 70 percent voted on some increased spending, depending on the level. They essentially said ‘Please. I’ll pay more if you fix the roads.’”

A report presented in August shows that there are 321 miles of county roads in poor to average condition, and 224 miles of county roads in average to excellent condition. With decreasing state road aid, road repairs have dropped over time. Utilizing the existing budget of funds, including sales tax and state/federal grants, a total of 10 miles of roadway is repaired or replaced annually.

The 2021 bond issue will allow for the repair and/or reconstruction of 31 miles of county highways. A similar bond issue in 2022 is expected to allow repair and/or reconstruction of 31 more miles.

“This is the most refreshing approach that I’ve been a part of in a very long time and I know that we can make a difference here,” said Field. “The record low interest rates make this appealing and possible. That and the fact that our public supports it and the need is easily demonstrated.”

Ehlers Public Finance Advisors estimate a cost of $650,000 in interest over the 10-year life of the first $9 million bond. For the owner of a $100,000 house borrowing $18 million (over two bond issues) will mean a rise of $27 annually for 10 to 11 years.

The 2021 Labor Agreement between Dodge County and Dodge County Sheriff’s Office Sworn Employees, Local 120, was authorized with an increase of $56,330. Raises are formulated to be consistent with McGrath compensation pay grades, the results of a wage study implemented last year.

A bid of $194,900 was approved for air conditioner replacement at the Administration Building by Sure Fire Inc. of Horicon. Other bids included 1901 Inc. of Madison ($212,860) and Sun Mechanical of Janesville ($250,000). The contract is yet to get a figure from Johnson Controls for their portion of the job.

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