Although faced with local road problems, officials leery of Towns Association campaign
Town of Saukville officials proved to be an independent lot last week after refusing to endorse the “Just Fix It” road funding campaign advocated by the Wisconsin Towns Association.
The board was presented a model resolution drafted by the association asking state officials to increase funding to maintain rural roads.
After citing the general decline in road funding in Wisconsin and the increased burden shifted to townships, the resolution calls for an increase in state borrowing and user fees to generate more transportation money.
“Be it resolved by the Town of Saukville Town Board to urge the governor and Legislature to Just Fix It and agree upon a solution that includes a responsible level of bonding and adjusts our user fees to adequately and sustainably fund Wisconsin’s transportation system,” the resolution concludes.
Although Saukville officials have repeatedly heard complaints from residents about the condition of local roads, board members questioned the politics behind the Just Fix It campaign.
Town Chairman Don Hamm noted the town approved a similar resolution last year, but showed little enthusiasm for reinforcing the position.
“I’m not crazy about it,” Hamm said.
“Our town people have said they don’t support the idea of borrowing to fix our roads, and I don’t think they would like the idea of the state borrowing more, either.”
Supr. Mike Denzien was equally skeptical of the initiative.
“I don’t like the shell-game aspect of this. I think we should let this fly,” Denzien said.
Supr. Curt Rutkowski, who has been assigned the task of monitoring road maintenance in the town, was not at the meeting.
With only two of the three board members present and no one willing to make a motion to adopt the resolution, it died without a vote.
The introduction of the resolution noted that municipal transportation funding has declined from $275 per capita in 2000 to $227 in 2012, which was lower than it was in 1986.
According to the association, towns are responsible for maintaining more than half the roads in the state.
However, the resolution contends, levy limits have made it virtually impossible to keep pace with the work needed on deteriorating roads.
The resolution also advocated for the expansion of user fees, contending, “Wisconsin’s over-reliance on borrowing eats away at the state’s segregated funding sources — the state gas tax and vehicle registration fees — which increasingly pay debt service rather than fund transportation needs.”
The resolution also says a recent study commissioned by the Local Government Institute of Wisconsin shows the state ranks in the bottom third of the country in road condition.