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Douglas County moves ahead with projects

After taking a wait-and-see approach to spending last summer, officials agreed it's time to get projects done.

The Government Center in Superior. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
The Government Center in Superior. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
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Douglas County took a conservative approach to spending last summer, setting aside most of the money available for capital projects.

Now, with a little more certainty about how the pandemic would affect the bottom line, county officials are looking to get those projects done.

“Regarding our general revenue, our sales tax came in very well over budget,” said county administrator Ann Doucette at a meeting of the joint administration and executive committees Tuesday, Jan. 12. “Interest income was down but the sales tax easily covered that. We got our full share of state shared revenue … in other words, we feel pretty comfortable releasing another $900,000 dollars.”

Douglas County had set aside $950,910 in a discretionary reserve, $133,450 in a building reserve and $26,500 in an emergency building reserve.

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Doucette said over the past few months, department managers updated their requests and some projects and equipment purchases were made using operating budgets and other funding.

Still, with more project requests than money, Doucette said some projects couldn’t be funded, including repaving the parking lot at the Government Center and reconfiguring the 911 call center. With 2020 over, merit rewards were not funded either, she said. Funding for merit rewards will be requested in 2021.

Projects that did receive funding include equipment and facility repairs for the highway department, a Mooney Dam improvement project, partial funding for improvements at Lucius Woods, facility repairs for the Government Center and courthouse, and $10,000 for the county’s groundwater testing program.

The budget also includes a lawn tractor that can be used for snow removal.

“We did have one lawn tractor last year that basically blew up and it’s basically worthless, said David Sletten, buildings and grounds, and emergency manager. “So I’m glad to see some additional dollars for snow removal equipment.”

The county board will consider the plan at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.

This story was updated at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 to include the date the meeting took place. It was posted at 8 a.m. Jan. 14.

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