Officials from cities, counties, and towns gathered together around the state last night to talk about funding for the state’s roadways. Meetings were held in 71 of the state’s 72 counties, with Ashland and Bayfield counties meeting together in northern Wisconsin. Those that met in the Town of Union town hall in Waupaca County shared the same problems….. how to deal with the increasing cost of road repairs with less money from the state. Waupaca mayor Brian Smith says his city has seen a 65 percent decrease in state road aids from 2008 to 2016, from just over a million dollars in 2008, to 291-thousand this year.
In the Town of Union, officials decided that town roads that are dead-ends will be turned into gravel roads when the pavement needs replacing…. there’s no money for new pavement. In Mukwa, town residents voted to double their road budget, essentially increasing their taxes for roads by 180 dollars per house, according to town chairman Jim Kearns. Kearns says he has no confidence the state will step up to help fund road repairs.
Mike Koles, the executive director of the Wisconsin Towns Association, says in Assembly District 35, around Antigo, the lack of funding for roads means they can only afford to reconstruct a road every 252 years. The recommended life span of a road is 40 years.
The state transportation budget for 2017-19 calls for a 300 million dollar reduction in total spending, with much of that coming from projects in southeastern Wisconsin. Local road aids will increase 65 million dollars. Koles says that equates to 88 dollars per mile for towns, or enough to do less than one-half mile.