New highway complex endorsed

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN – The County Board Tuesday formally authorized the relocation of Highway Department facilities to the planned new headquarters in the town of Plymouth, but not without some opposition.

Supervisor Fay Uraynar continued to voice her opposition to the project and express her concerns about its cost and size.

She was joined in voting no on the authorizing resolution by Supervisor Jim Baumgart. The final vote was 21-2 in favor, with supervisors Greg Weggeman and Libby Ogea absent.

“I feel very strongly about taking 40 acres of prime farmland (for the project),” Baumgart stated. “That’s not the kind of leadership we should be showing, a county that prides itself on being a dairy county.”

Uraynar based her opposition, as she has in the past, on the cost and size of the proposed facility, which would consolidate the current sheds in Elkhart Lake and Plymouth and the department offices in Sheboygan.

She contended the actual cost of the new facility will be closer to $25 million, rather than the $15 million figure in the recently-approved fiveyear capital projects plans.

Uraynar cited the fiscal note from county Finance Director Wendy Charnon which accompanied the resolution.

That note said the funding for the new building would include the $15 million in capital projects borrowing plus sale proceeds from the three buildings to be closed (Elkhart Lake, $500,000; Plymouth, $570,000; and Sheboygan $1.1. million), $5.35 million from the county’s reserve funds, a $560,000 reimbursement from the state and $1.8 million the county had borrowed previously for the project.

That, Uraynar noted, would bring the total cost to $24.88 million. “And we purchased the land for half a million dollars, which is not part of this total.

“I realize that the transportation complex has been a piece we’ve needed for some time,” Uraynar said.

“I wish I could see that total picture and support this, but until I have that clear picture, I can’t support this,” she concluded.

Supervisor Richard Bemis, a member of the Transportation Committee, defended the proposal.

Explaining that the new center would provide efficiencies and cost-savings for the Highway Department, Bemis said, “I think our transportation system is probably one of the most important things we have if we want business to come here. I’ve been around a while and I could not vote no on this.”

“I think we are making the right move,” added Supervisor Thomas Epping. “We’re preparing the meet the needs of the future at a time when we can afford it best. I think it’s all a reasonable amount. It’s going to cost a lot less than it would in the future.”

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