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City and county of La Crosse pass budgets for 2023, with county setting aside funds to drill for new groundwater source

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The La Crosse city council and the county board both approved new budgets for 2023 on Monday night.

The city spending plan is close to $70 million, while the county budget tops out at $208 million.

While the La Crosse city council took about 20 minutes to pass its budget, the county board spent about three hours working on theirs.

The city plans to spend federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to help close a $4 million gap in revenue to balance the budget.

Meanwhile, county supervisors spent a good deal of time debating whether to include $100,000 in the new budget for test-drilling to find new underground water on French Island, to replace the current well water source that’s tainted with PFAS chemicals.

Supervisor Margaret Larson represents island residents, who have needed to use bottled water for more than a year and a half. She said residents were kept in the dark for several years, by the city of La Crosse.

“PFAS contamination was found in wells on the island in 2014,” she told the board. “But the city did not notify the town until 2020.”

The chemicals have been traced to firefighting foam used for decades at the La Crosse Regional Airport on the island.

The drilling project is intended to go through bedrock beneath the current aquifer, to find a new source of fresh water.

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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