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Chippewa County Courthouse U.S. Flag

The U.S. Flag is flown over the Chippewa County Courthouse on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.

The Chippewa County Board approved a $12.4 million capital improvement plan Tuesday for 2020, covering a variety of projects across the county.

County administrator Randy Scholz went through each of the projects with the board, explaining the issues and needs of each request.

About $2.2 million of sales tax will be used to pay for the projects, along with $6.2 million in grants, $1 million in borrowing and $2.9 million from current fund balance.

Highway and bridge projects make up the bulk of the spending, totaling $8.5 million, and acquisition of new highway department machinery adds another $1 million.

The most significant road project will be adding a roundabout at the intersection of Highway Q and Highway S in the northeast corner of Chippewa Falls, at a cost of $1,380,000. The highway spending also includes $200,000 for final design of the new Cobban Bridge, halfway between Jim Falls and Cornell.

The sheriff’s department has several projects slated for 2020, mostly in the jail. Several of the showers will be resurfaced at a cost of $60,000, and replacing the jail chiller system costs $600,000. The jail washer and dryer system would be replaced, and the Huber area lobby would be remodeled, at a cost of $400,000. The jail was built in 2002, and these projects are replacing the aging components in the building.

“It’s always expensive to remodel jails; it’s just the way they are made,” Scholz said. “They have thick walls.”

The county has been working on a courthouse-wide security plan for the past decade, and this year’s budget includes $400,000 to remodel and add security measures to the county clerk’s office and the treasurer’s office. Another $50,000 was allocated for a keycard access system for some offices, like the judges’ chambers.

Scholz said this is the final major renovation to complete the security plan.

The Land Conservation & Forest Management Department will receive $300,000 for future land acquisitions for the county forest, $120,000 for a snowmobile bridge, $100,000 for a stewardship fund, and $50,000 for new recycling containers.

The Information Technology Department received $304,000 to replace equipment.

Other spending includes $1.41 million for a radio tower project that was approved last year, $451,000 to pay on old debt and $130,000 for capital improvement projects at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport.

The county generally collects about $5.5 million annually from the half-percent sales tax. The county, by ordinance, automatically uses $1.41 million of that money as a property tax credit. By resolution, sales tax dollars can only be spent on capital purchases, and not on salaries.

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(1) comment

Merlin

Seems to me, the .5% sales tax was only supposed to last until the Courthouse renovations were completed. Then we added the new Jail. Now, we are paying for remodeling a jail that's only 17 years old. Exactly WHEN is this sales tax going to go away like was promised? You really think the tax payers trust the people making decisions with their money anymore? The roundabout on Q&S, when is that happening? Are they going to dig up the road and let it sit for several weeks like they did with S and 53 right now? Seriously - who the hell is making decisions and doing the hiring? You can't build anything that lasts more than 17 years, you tear up roads just to have them sit for weeks on end. And you are have overshot what you said the .5% sales tax was for. Time to vote these people out.

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