Rapids council hears from public on transportation service


By Kris Leonhardt

WISCONSIN RAPIDS – On September 21, local residents and business owners were able to comment on a draft ordinance that would end the use of special assessments and create an urban transport service to fund roads local.

Transportation utility charges increase revenues through the creation of a utility, which is similar to a utility or water utility. The utility charges a fee based on customer usage.

With the transportation service, residents, businesses and public entities would pay a fee based on the amount of traffic generated on their property.

Alder Tom Rayome speaks following public comments on the proposed transportation service. Image of the City of Wisconsin Rapids

In a public hearing held in the city council chamber, city aldermen listened to comments both for and against the ordinance.

Lee Chipman of Bancroft, who owns three businesses in Wisconsin Rapids, was one of a dozen or so people who spoke out against the creation of a new utility.

“What’s really sad for me is that it looks like Wisconsin Rapids is anti-small business and that’s what’s going to hurt.

“From the street to the bridge, there are eight empty buildings. I’m not happy with it; I don’t know if you are happy with it. It’s up to you guys; you keep discouraging small businesses (to) thrive, and I don’t think you understand how much of a small profit margin there is in small businesses, ”he said.

“I have three where I still couldn’t make a living, but I do because Wisconsin Rapids means a lot to me and it’s hard to believe after two years of (the) pandemic and stuff like that, and we’re not back to 2019 yet – we still haven’t got back to 2019 revenues – and I don’t think we’ll ever get back to it; maybe not.

“And now you have to raise taxes on us, and I haven’t seen any numbers yet.

“Maybe I’m overreacting in life, but the way it seems small businesses are going to bear the brunt of this tax hike.”

Chipman added that last year he paid $ 8,000 in special assessments for improvements to a commercial property in the city.

“When they drove over there, I knew that with that, it was part of being with Wisconsin Rapids. I saved up to pay so much; it was part of life in Wisconsin Rapids. When they fixed your road, you had to pay, but you’re done for another 20 to 25 years, ”he added.

Holly Pastori was one of the few residents to speak on behalf of the public service.

“I have to speak on behalf of, as you know, the owners. I’m on 18th avenue; I am part of an alliance of 72 houses where we are now subject to the 18th Avenue project where our street is being dug. And, in March 2019, not 2012, people received the special assessment invoices, the estimate of which so far has not been less than $ 10,000 minus $ 10 to $ 12,000, ”he said. she declared.

“Like businesses, we were all impacted in 2020; it was a terrible year. We have had job losses, physical suffering, reduced working hours, and neither can we afford it, you know it our way either.

“It’s tough for small businesses; it’s hard for churches with schools; but, we must protect individuals.

“You’re talking about, or people have been talking about, people on fixed incomes; there are widows on my street who also have a fixed income and they cannot spit out that $ 10,000. There is a person who is at the corner of Chase Street who had the job done that was explained and who is at the corner of Chase and 18th and so the bill for that person is $ 20 to $ 22,000, due to special contributions; it’s more punitive than $ 9 a month, let me tell you.

“So I encourage you to continue your search for a just and just solution. “

In a recent presentation, Mayor Shane Blaser explained the need to explore new road funding.

“With the current program, funds come from homeowners who directly benefit from street improvements. These revenues are used to offset the costs of building and maintaining the streets; However, with current budget amounts, a street built in 2020 may not be rebuilt until 2170, when more than 100 years have passed its useful life, ”Blaser.

“Current revenues generate $ 350,000 for street related items. With the street replacement and maintenance programs at $ 1.5 million and $ 800,000 respectively, while the road construction and maintenance budget of $ 2.3 million is considerable. The impact of these funds will only cover 30% of a sustainable program. “

Therefore, Blaser said a new alternative should be explored.

The proposed utilities ordinance was approved earlier this fall by the city’s public works committee.

Blaser said information on fee schedules will be released regarding each type of property under the proposed transportation service before a final council vote is taken. The board will then discuss the matter in October.

For more information on the transport utility, visit www.wirapids.org/special-assessment-alternatives.html.

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