Officials say Connecting Highway Aid program offers no guarantee that Hwy. 33 costs will be covered
The Saukville Village Board has affirmed a long-standing position, contending the village would likely come out on the short end financially if it took part in the state’s Connecting Highway Aid program.
While developing plans for the reconstruction of Highway 33, village officials supported a long-standing position to turn down the aid.
Under the program, municipalities receive state funding in exchange for maintaining state highways through their communities.
That stand was challenged at the April 21 board meeting when former Public Works Director Roy Wilhelm recommended the village participate in the program, gaining between $20,000 and $30,000 in funding from the Department of Transportation.
“The connecting highway agreement would give much flexibility for access, road repairs and general maintenance,” Wilhelm said during the public comment period of the board meeting.
Because the issue was not included on the board agenda, trustees deferred discussion until their June 2 Finance Committee meeting.
Village Administrator Dawn Wagner said the aid program was studied in the past, including when Wilhelm was on the staff, and officials were not convinced the community would come out ahead financially.
Wagner said the greatest concern about the program is that the state’s funding rate of $7,300 a mile of highway maintained has not increased since 1998.
“We would need assurances from the board that it would be willing to raise the (Public Works) budget to do the quality job we have come to expect,” she said.
Village President Barb Dickmann said she, too, doubts the aid program would be beneficial for the village.
“As it is now, the state pays the money and we do the work. The question is, what happens if the state decides to stop paying and we have an agreement to maintain the highway?” Dickmann said.
In 2012, while researching options for the redesign of Plaza Drive, Wilhelm wrote a memo questioning the value of the village committing to the connecting highway program.
“The Village Board considered connecting highway status during the design phase, but wisely turned down the offer based on the history of the state cutting back on funding of so many of its obligations,” he wrote three years ago.
Wagner said she would only research program requirements further if directed by the board.
Instead, trustees said they were content with not receiving the connecting highway funding, leaving Highway 33 maintenance in the hands of the state.