Sen. Stroebel tells village officials they should be skeptical of campaign to boost state spending on roads
Last month, the Fredonia Village Board considered a resolution calling for additional state funding for transportation, but Village President Don Dohrwardt thought the issue was too complex for a rubber-stamp endorsement.
To give credence to his contention, Dohrwardt invited State Sen. Duey Stroebel to attend last week’s Village Board meeting to provide a different perspective on road spending.
The model resolution was prepared by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities as part of the “#JustFixItWI” campaign, which implores Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature to increase funding for road projects in the state.
The resolution, in part, notes that municipal spending for roads has decreased from $275 per capita in 2000 to $227 in 2012.
It also notes that a study commissioned by the Local Government Institute of Wisconsin shows highways in the state are now ranked in the bottom third in the nation.
“Both local and state roads need to be properly maintained in order for our economy to grow,” states the resolution.
However, Stroebel said the campaign takes too simplistic of an approach to the challenge of maintaining roads while controlling taxes.
He said the transit campaign is a “concerted effort” by lobbyists for the state’s road builders.
Stroebel said the Wisconsin transportation system is deserving of closer scrutiny, but disputed the suggestion that raising taxes or fees is the answer.
“We need to find efficiencies, but raising taxes is a knee-jerk reaction. It is not a conservative solution,” Stroebel said.
One measure that he said will make more funding available for roads will go into effect next year, when the prevailing wage law is no longer in effect for state projects.
That law, Stroebel said, will force contractors to be more competitive in their bidding on public projects.
Undue government regulation on road plans that receive federal funding also drive up costs, he said.
“There are a lot of unnecessary mandates that are driving up costs — bike paths, bridges and the proliferation of roundabouts that don’t always make sense,” Stroebel said.
“Communities like Fredonia that know how to be more efficient with spending should be getting more funding for their roads.”
Fredonia resident Scott Roberts objected to Stroebel’s attempt to dismiss the resolution as political posturing.
“I don’t need a study to tell me our roads are bad. My own driving tells me that,” Roberts said.
Sensing board members were conflicted on the political issue, Dohrwardt suggested deferring a vote on the resolution.
“Each of us is expected to do our own research. We are not required to be unanimous all the time,” Dohrwardt said.
Trustees agreed to postpone a vote on the transportation resolution until January.
On a far less controversial issue, members of the Ozaukee High School robotics team were presented with proclamations recognizing their first-place finish in a global competition held at the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas.
The team, Ozaukee Robotics, topped a field of 39 teams from 16 countries.
The students proudly wore T-shirts saying “Houston … We don’t have a problem.”
Dohrwardt read the proclamation, noting team members “devoted countless hours practicing and improving their engineering and technical skills.”
Framed copies were presented to each of the team members. They included junior Josh Vogt, who served as the group’s CEO, juniors Nick Marz, software engineer; Connor Freiburger, mechanical/electrical engineer; and Joseph Ceranski, mechanical/electrical engineer; sophomores Zach Wagner, mechanical engineer; Hannah Bell, technical writer; and Hannah Nordby, technical writer; and freshman Jarrod Bares, electrical engineer.
Randy Vogt was the team’s adult mentor.