September 20, 2008

How to Spend $209M?

By Marcus, Samantha

City officials and even some members of the public made their pitch Tuesday that their projects should take priority in the 2009- 13 capital improvement budget. The budget maps out about $209 million in potential spending, though the city is limited to borrowing the amount of debt it retires each year - about $6.5 million annually.

Toni Asher, executive director of the Pump House Regional Arts Center, said the building's 30-year-old roof is in poor shape, with two portions damaged by ice this past winter and water seeping through windows.

Mayor Mark Johnsrud suggested immediately funding the $100,000 roof replacement from surplus and repaying that money from the 2009 capital improvement program.

The Myrick Park shelter, too, is beginning to leak, said Parks and Recreation Director Steve Canyon.

The budget already includes $200,000 toward the $1 million Black River Beach bathhouse, which has evolved into a North Side community center, much like the South Side Neighborhood Center, Canyon said.

A survey of North Side residents indicated they want more than a bathhouse, Carlyon said.

"The bathhouse might have been a good idea to start out with," he said, "but this will be a facility that will have a long-term effect on that neighborhood, on that corridor."

The city's Board of Public Works will be asked Monday to approve demolishing the existing bathhouse.

The budget also directs $250,000 to the La Crosse Public Library to replace a 1964 boiler and equipment.

Randy Loken, assistant La Crosse fire chief, called for replacing 13-year-old Engine 1, now the busiest in the department with about 950 calls a year.

"It can be a reliable reserve piece," Loken said. "But it cannot go on on a day-to-day basis."

The city's Information Services Department requested another $200,000 in 2009 for payroll software to be used in 2010, plus back- up generators.

A few members of the public also urged the city's Plan Commission move up projects to 2009.

Jay Sodig with North La Crosse Business Association wants the city to spend $200,000 to $250,000 on landscaping and streetlights along. the Exit 3 corridor from Interstate 90 to Livingston Street.

"It would be in our best interest to get part of that moved into the 2009 budget ... to get people to redevelop that part of town," he said.

Copyright La Crosse Tribune Aug 27, 2008

(c) 2008 La Crosse Tribune. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.