Written by MARK JAEGER
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 17:00
Officials refuse to sign county contract that would have required spending $128,000 on projects
Town of Saukville officials decided last week not to participate in the Ozaukee County Highway Department’s Guaranteed Work Partnership program, leaving road maintenance in the town in limbo.
Under the program, the county asked the town to pledge to spend at least $128,000 with the highway department for maintenance. The cost would be owed the county even if the bills to the town would be less than that total amount.
Technically, the Town Board unanimously approved a 2014-15 road maintenance contract with the county, but crossed-out the line item referring to the work partnership.
That contract itemizes which services the town wants the county to perform. Of 25 listed services, the only one town officials said they want the county to perform on their behalf was bridge inspections.
Most of the other items — including mowing roadsides, replacing signs and grading gravel roads and shoulders — were lumped under the heading “as directed.”
Earlier in the year, the town chose to contract with a private company to handle its snow plowing — a job that had previously been handled by the county.
Town Chairman Barb Jobs, who is also a county supervisor and a member of the county’s Public Works Committee that oversees the highway department, said the plowing decision put the town in an unfavorable light with the county.
“When we didn’t agree to the Guaranteed Work Partnership, they said they would get to the items we included (on the road maintenance contract) if they had time,” Jobs said.
She said that the town maintains a very tight budget for road projects, and cannot promise to spend money with the county if work is not needed.
“The $128,000 might work out fine some years, but when we don’t spend that much is it fair to expect us to pay? For our taxpayers, it doesn’t make sense,” Jobs asked.
She said the town has used private contractors for road work in the past, and will again if the county doesn’t want its business without the guarantee.
Complicating matters, the county’s highway department is not eligible to do road projects that are funded by the state’s Local Road Improvement Program.
That matching-fund program has been used for most road reconstruction projects, because half of the cost of the selected projects is covered by the state.
Town supervisors have tentatively earmarked two road projects for funding under the LRIP — repaving of Hickory Road from Wellspring Road to Highview Road and the town’s portion of Northwoods Road.
The Hickory Road project is expected to cost about $47,000. A cost estimate has not been received for the Northwoods Road work.