Two years ago at the Baldwin annual meeting, outgoing Chairman Jeff Holm made a passionate appeal for more road preservation money. The then just elected new Town Board Member Kim Good made a motion to increase taxes 25 percent, saying it was a “nice round number.” Taxpayers added $100,000 to the roads levy with the understanding that preservation would save money in the long run. To the Town Board’s credit, the next year, many roads received long overdue crack and chip sealing. Then the board formed a committee to evaluate all the town roads. The committee priorities were consistent with the engineer’s five-year road plan. However, Chairman Swanson made a motion and voted to spend $407,000 to widen and resurface 1 mile of the road in front of his home.
Fast forward to 2013. Mr. Swanson’s new road gets $259,000 this year. This does not include $100,000-plus next year to complete the project or the engineering paid for last year. That leaves very little money for roads preservation. The 2013 budget contains no money for chip sealing or seal coating. At the beginning of the last Town Board meeting, there was $59,000 budgeted for crack sealing. However, some growing sink holes needed to be addressed, so money was taken from the crack sealing budget. An Elk Lake resident made a plea to save his retaining wall from being washed into the lake by road flooding. More money was taken from the crack sealing budget. The town engineer was directed to study needed road repairs for Sandy Lake after hearing a resident describe flooding when it rains.
Will the Sandy Lake money come from the crack sealing budget? Two road projects were just funded from the preservation budget. Will there be sufficient funds available to remedy the Sandy Lake flooding from the crack sealing budget? If not, will the Sandy Lake project be delayed again? Possibly the sink holes or Elk Lake can be delayed again. However, the $259,000 for the chairman’s new road remains unscathed. — Chuck Nagle, Baldwin