One item of note is an $80 million expenditure for a possible new future government building. Neither the building nor plans for it have been approved at this time.
By Jacob Mathias
Multiple improvements to the structure of Portage County and its facilities were proposed last week at a meeting of the Capital Improvement and Economic Development Committee.
Capital improvements are any improvement expenditures that exceed a total cost of $25,000. County Executive Patty Dreier presented her capital improvement plan recommendations for 2016-2021 last week.
“It’s a big plan,” said Dreier. “It doesn’t mean money’s been appropriated. It’s a plan.”
Funds for approved projects are added to the final county budget later in the year when it’s determined if the funding will come from the county’s tax levy, fund balance or debt service.
The capital improvement plan extends for the next five years. One item of note is an $80 million expenditure for a possible new future government building. Neither the building nor plans for it have been approved at this time.
“As far as I’m concerned there’s no way we should be spending that much money,” said County Board Chairman Phil Idsvoog. “The need is real simple. We need more jail space and we need some updating to the courts. I think it’s still up for discussion how that gets done and how it gets executed. We don’t a Taj Mahal in order to do that.”
Dreier said the $80 million tab for a new building is the only figure she’s seen so far from the architect
He said the remaining capital improvements are par for the course.
The largest projects for 2016 include updates to the Portage County Public Library with a total expected cost of $588,280.
“I know that people are pretty keen on that library lease that we just agreed to,” said Dreier.
The library improvements come as the result of a lease agreement with the City of Stevens Point made last fall. Improvements include replacing lighting, temperature control, boilers and chillers as well as roof repair and masonry work.
Construction of public safety radio towers compose another $2,755,000 dollars of capital improvements for 2016. The radio towers were approved for future construction by the county board on May 13 after it was reported that it would be cheaper to build their own radio towers than continue to rent them.
“That complements the Simulcast project, emergency communications across the county,” said Dreier. “Once we determined that renting didn’t make sense for the cost and difficulty of connecting with the commercial towers then we thought okay lets look at the next.”
An 80-acre parcel of land in the town of Eau Pleine is also recommended for a purchase price of $240,000. The land would be incorporated into Lake Dubay County Park, which it abuts.
“If we don’t buy that land now, we’re probably not going to get this chance,” said Dreier.
Road construction projects and application of new county financial software make up the rest of the $4.2 million proposed capital improvements.
The plan, if adopted, is not set in stone and can always be changed to suit the changing needs of the county.
“Maybe something else comes up that took our staff away or took our time,” said Dreier. “You might say this one’s back for another year or we’re going to do it next year instead. We might have found another way to do it or somehow there’s another resource that comes…it’s really a living document as any good plan should be.”
The CIP proposal will next go to the committee again on July 13 for discussion and possible approval. If approved by the committee, the plan will be up for possible adoption by the Portage County Board of Supervisors at their meeting on July 21.