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La Crosse County preparing to educate voters about highway questions on fall ballot



Three months from today, voters in La Crosse County can cast ballots in elections for governor, U.S.Senator and county road funding.

The county board is placing a multiple choice referendum on the ballot, offering different options for raising millions of dollars a year for highway maintenance.

The county board will have three funding options — and a fourth that for not funding — on a November referendum. People can vote for any or all of the options, which are a property tax increase, a wheel tax and a premier resort sales tax.

Board chair Tara Johnson says there will also be a ‘none of the above’ option on the ballot, and that it will be the first question voters see.

The goal is to find $5 million a year to keep up with maintenance needs, “which is what we really need to be doing because we haven’t been getting the level of funding we were led to believe we would get,” she said.

Johnson said budget surpluses alone might provide up to $300,000 in a given year but that isn’t nearly enough to start whittling down a wish list of $100 million in road projects.

“But it might be in the $200,000 or $300,0000, that in no way gets at the $5 million that we need annually to invest in the roads,” Johnson said.

Johnson added that $5 million can’t just be transferred from other parts of the budget to the highway fund because laws strictly determine what most of the county money has to be spent on.

That’s why some of the county’s $161 million budget can’t be alloted toward roads.

“Because we have to provide services, that we are required to perform, including operating the jail, child protective services, public services, the landfill — the list goes on,” Johnson said.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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