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COVID-related needs favored over building plans in La Crosse

Brad Williams

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Some taxpayers in La Crosse worry that the city is spending money on the wrong things, in the middle of a pandemic. 

The capital improvement budget for the next five years was reviewed by the city council finance committee Thursday night. 

It includes planning for projects such as a new law enforcement center. 

But speakers coming before the committee say the COVID pandemic and its effects should have a higher priority.

“A lot of people are facing eviction, homelessness, foreclosure on their house, joblessness, and we’re not really seeing a budget that is reflecting the concerns that are going to be happening in these next upcoming months,” said speaker Katrina Sletten.    

Much public criticism centered around a combination police and fire headquarters, said to have a price tag over $30 million. 

Spending on new riverfront docks, and cuts in the public library budget also drew comments from the public. 

Mayor Tim Kabat responded to comments, saying that borrowing won’t occur for big-ticket items unless the city is sure that a project will happen. 

Fire Chief Ken Gilliam says the law enforcement building might not go up for another 5 to 10 years.  

The full city council may vote on the capital budget next week.

 

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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