Committee sends grant requests to full board
With project requests ranging from a golf course irrigation project to a new snowmobile trail groomer, members of the Taylor County Finance and Personnel Committee had tough choices to make as they reviewed Power Line Impact Fee grant requests.
As part of the Arrowhead to Weston transmission line project, the county had received an initial payout to be used for outdoor recreation and other projects. In the years since the power line was completed, the county has received additional funds which adds to the grant funds available. Under county rules, groups may submit grant requests in the spring and fall with the requests to be reviewed by the finance and personnel committee before going to the full county board for final action. It requires a two-thirds vote from the county board to approve spending the funds.
As with recent years, few of the groups received the full amount they requested with the committee recommending awarding a different amount. While this is typically done to maximize the number of groups that can access the funds, the county also has set the standard of having the groups pay for a portion of the projects themselves.
The Friends of Rib Lake, Inc requested county funds for the Band Shell Project. Scot Bromann has been working with the group for the project. The band shell will be located near the Ice Age Pavilion with the exact spot determined by the soil borings to see what will require the least fill to be brought in. Estimated costs are between $150,000 and $200,000 and Bromann said they have received pledges for over $70,000 so far. They are working with Marathon Tech of Wausau in doing the plans for the structure. Committee members approved sending it to county board with recommendation to pay $15,000.
“We have a lot of proposals,” said committee chair Chuck Zenner noting that it will probably get reduced at the county board level. “We are trying to hold on to as much as we can,” Zenner said.
Taylor County Humane Society requested funds for a $4,700 project to remove the tile floor in what had been the grooming room at the shelter. Shelter manager Scott Schultz said they have seen an explosion in the number of dogs surrendered to the shelter with 130 since January 1. As a result, the shelter is needing to put dogs in the cat room and anywhere they can at the facility. He explained that because many of the dogs have behavior issues, they are picking at the older tile floor and it is becoming a safety hazard and making it difficult to clean as water is going under the tile. The goal is to rip out the existing tiles and to grind and then polyurethane the concrete surface. Committee members voted to send it to the county board asking for $4,000 for the project.
Black River Golf Course is seeking funding to help with their irrigation project. Todd Medenwaldt noted the course opened in 1992 and currently has about 100 members in addition to providing leagues, junior golf programs, and being the host club for 17 outings and the home course for two school districts’ teams.
“It is the largest golf course and practice facility in Taylor County,” Medenwaldt said, noting it is impossible to overlook the economic stimulus the course brings to the area.
The course had initially had $30,000 budgeted for the irrigation system work, but had to spend $20,000 to upgrade the pump system. They came to the county seeking $30,000 for the project.
Zenner noted that they try to stay away from giving 100% to projects. Committee member Scott Mildbrand expressed concern about it being a for-profit entity, noting there are a lot of for profit groups. It was noted that the county has given funds to a for profit group in the past.
A motion by Zenner to give $15,000 to the project failed on a tie vote of the committee. Mildbrand made a motion to give $10,000 which was approved sending it to the Oct. 25 meeting of the full county board.
Dave Roiger of the Snowmobile Clubs Grooming Association came in with a request for help with the purchase of a new groomer. The association, which is made up of 9 snowmobile clubs, is responsible for 228 miles of trail including the Pine Line trail.
They currently operate four groomers and are looking to upgrade to make it more user friendly. Roiger described the newer ones as being similar to operate as driving a truck down the highway. The cost is about $277,000 and the group is asking the county for roughly $28,000 which is about 10%.
The request was approved and forwarded to the full county board for final action.
In other business, committee members:
Approved, after coming out of closed session, the human resources department recommendation for the timing of the change and setting the pay rate at 110% of the control point wage for when the airport coordinator switches from being a full time position to being a casual position in early 2024.
Approved a level increase on the county’s pay scale for a financial specialist in the child support office. The employee had requested the position’s pay grade be reviewed after significant changes were made since she took the position. It was noted that about 30% of her time was with the new duties. The consultants who work with the county on the wage scale recommended a one level increase. It will go into effect in January.
Approved having county clerk Andria Farrand purchase a vehicle for the county human services department to replace one that had been totaled last year in a car crash. The county had been awaiting purchase of a Ford Explorer under the state contract with Waukesha- based Ewald Automotive Group for approximately $32,000. With the long delay in getting the vehicle, the county looked to get one available on the lot to purchase from Medford Motors for about $42,000. However that sale was canceled and the county went back to purchasing it from Ewald with assurance that the vehicle was in production. This was prior to the United Auto Workers announcing a strike against the major auto makers. Farrand noted that the vehicle from Ewald is the base model while the one from Medford Motors had more features included.
Approved renewing the contract for corporation counsel legal services for 2024. The contract had previously been reviewed and approved by the county’s executive committee. There are no significant changes other than a slight fee increase.
Approved, despite a no vote from Mildbrand, the vehicle purchase outlay for the highway department. Mildbrand said he would like to see the county use $150,000 a year from the vehicle revenues toward other county budget needs. Every time the county does work with equipment a portion is billed to those projects to cover equipment maintenance and replacement. While the work done for other entities such as the state or towns is not direct county tax levy dollars, it is all ultimately tax dollars being spent.