Chippewa County unveils $17.7M capital improvement plant

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May 26—CHIPPEWA FALLS — Chippewa County Administrator Randy Scholz has unveiled a proposed $17.7 million capital improvement plan for 2023, with the bulk of the money going toward repairing roads and bridges.

The plan, which will be presented to the county's Executive Committee on June 7, calls for using $9.6 million in grants, $3.3 million in sales tax revenue, $1.8 million from the county's fund balance, and to borrow $3 million.

"When we go to borrow money, they like to see a five-year plan," Scholz explained. "It helps with our rating."

Highway projects make up the most of the capital improvement plan, with $13.4 million in highway and bridge repairs, $1.1 million for machinery purchases, $250,000 for non-highway vehicle fleet replacement, and $100,000 for building improvements.

"It's a little higher than normal, because we have the Cobban Bridge (replacement project), but a lot of it is federal funds," Scholz said.

The capital improvement plan also calls for investing in improvements for facilities and parks, from replacing 43 campsite docks at three different parks, and playground equipment at Otter Lake and Pine Point Parks, along with adding new equipment at Round Lake Park. The department would also receive $475,000 to remodel their offices; the original building was constructed in 1992.

"We've seen an increase in our parks (usage) sinc COVID hit," Scholz said. "We need to keep everything up for our citizens."

The sheriff's department would receive $350,000 for a 911 phone replacement system.

The Land Conservation and Forest Management Department would receive $500,000 to expand the Hickory Ridge Trailhead, $300,000 for county forest land acquisitions, $120,000 to upgrade or replace a snowmobile bridge, and $100,000 for a stewardship fund.

The three courtrooms would have technology upgrades that total $75,000.

The county borrows money every other year in order to maintain an annual debt payment of $1.85 million, Scholz explained in his letter to the committee.

After the plan is reviewed by the committee, it goes to the full county board on June 14.

The long-term capital improvement plan calls for spending $13.7 million in 2024 and $9.7 million in 2025.

The Executive Committee also will review a proposal to add two full-time social worker positions in the Department of Human Services, for long-term support services for children, and hire a full-time mental health crisis worker. The social worker positions are fully funded from state and federal dollars, while some of the county's budget will go toward paying for the mental health crisis worker position, Scholz said.