State budget impact on city, county

MADISON - The 2009-11 state budget signed Monday by Gov. Jim Doyle includes $400,000 for bicycle lanes on County Road B in Douglas County while maintaining funds for shared revenue for cities and harbor assistance programs.

MADISON - The 2009-11 state budget signed Monday by Gov. Jim Doyle includes $400,000 for bicycle lanes on County Road B in Douglas County while maintaining funds for shared revenue for cities and harbor assistance programs.

Money for bike lanes along County Road B was carried over from federal funding not spent in the previous budget, said State Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar. When the Friends of Pattison State Park asked Jauch for help for bike lane funding, he steered them toward the Transportation Enhancement Program which had $17 million available for streetscape, bike paths and street maintenance projects.

"No other bike lanes (in Douglas County) were funded from this program before," said Jauch. The city of Superior wants them for a similar path and can apply during the next funding cycle."

County Road B is scheduled to be reconstructed in 2011 from State Highway 35 to County Road A at Four Corners. It will have two 12-foot-wide asphalt traffic lanes and six foot graveled shoulders. The state money would pay to pave and stripe the shoulders as bike lanes, said County Highway Commissioner Paul Halverson.

"The legislators did us a favor to make the money available to the county but whether it's acceptable is a subject of debate here because it's not 100 percent funded, there's a 20 percent local match (of $80,000) involved," he said.


Although it passes Pattison State Park and an elementary school, there's not much bike traffic on County Road B due to the road's condition, said Halverson. The County Board of Supervisors will decide to add the bike lanes or not, he said.

The new budget kept $12 million in bonding authority for harbor assistance projects statewide, the same amount budgeted in 2007-09. The Port of Superior received $3 million in harbor assistance funds in 2008 for improvements to Fraser Shipyards and the port is looking to leverage the money to get $10 million in federal stimulus financing this year, said Jauch.

"The harbor assistance program has provided valuable resources in the past that have been invested in number of grain elevators which has helped recruit jobs from Minnesota and retain jobs here," Jauch said.

The port will apply in August for $3 million to rebuild dock wall at the Gavilon Grain terminal in December, said Jason Serck, port and planning director.

"The project qualified last year but the state ran out of funding so we expect to be funded this time," he said of the

The budget "holds the line," on cuts in shared revenue to the cities, said Jauch. The Senate Conference Committee that worked out budget differences with the Assembly adopted the language suggested by Jauch and State Rep. Nick Milroy, D-Superior that enabled Superior to maintain its spending levels without losing state aid.

"The city of Superior was looking at having to cut 10-15 employees when shared revenue projections came out earlier this year. They approached my office and Jauch's and asked if we could work on the funding formula for cities with little or no growth to qualify for the expenditure restraint program. Thankfully it went through and there are 15 or so families in the Twin Ports that still have a breadwinner," Milroy said.

Superior Mayor Dave Ross said he was "very pleased," the changes introduced by Jauch and Milroy remained in the budget which "protects governments and local property taxpayers."


However, Ross voiced concerns about the doubling of tipping fees landfill operators will pay in the new budget. Superior owns a landfill and will have to pay about $13 a ton on garbage hauled in greatly increasing its costs, said Ross. He said the change could put the city's contract with the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District in jeopardy; the contract has saved taxpayers significantly in the cost of the operating the landfill.

"That's a significant increase but we won't pass that cost onto property taxpayers, we'll absorb it," he said.

The budget increases spending by $4 billion and hikes some taxes and fees, which indicates the state should have shown more fiscal constraint, said Ross.

"When everyone else has to live on less it isn't the time for the state to increase its spending and fees," he said.

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