A grant awarded by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to the Town of Lake Mills for road repairs has been overturned and voided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The Multimodal Local Supplement grant was awarded to the township to assist in reconstruction of the three-mile-long Crossman Road, damaged during the construction process at Daybreak Foods.
The MLS program was created through a partial veto of 2019 Wisconsin Act 9. On July 10, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned this veto and voided the MLS grant program.
The MLS program allowed for individual grants that funded up to 90% of a total project. In an effort to expand the number of projects, the MLS review committee generally provided for 70% of the project to be funded with grant money. This decision, along with other deliberate actions, allowed over 50% more towns to receive funding.
At the time the grant was awarded Hope Oostdik, town chairperson, said the town was awarded 70% of what it asked for.
The township also received $250,000 from Daybreak to help support the road project.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation said in a letter to the township it is dedicated to fulfilling the commitments made to local communities under the loan program.
“Since the court action, the department has analyzed the ruling and developed a contingency plan to fund projects that were awarded MLS grants,” Ryan Spaight, DOT program officer wrote in the letter.
In an email, Oostdik said the decision to overturn the MLS program was, “very disappointing.”
The Township Local Roads Improvement Program- Discretionary Supplement committee met on July 27 and voted to fund all former MLS projects that met the eligibility requirements of the LRIP program at the same funding level as previously awarded. In total, 77 town former MLS projects were qualified under the LRIP-D criteria.
The Local Roads Improvement Program is something the township uses every other year as a possible funding source for road repairs.
“Work is financed and completed by the towns and cities and then reimbursed by state funds designated for each approved project. We have received a couple in the past,” Oostdik said.
The board signed the State-Municipal agreement at its last meeting. The board said in a meeting in March they expect the cost to repair the road to be about $650,000.
Oostdik expressed her frustration with the partisan politics in the state and said she will be reaching out to the Jefferson County Highway Department to determine what all this means for the township and their road project.
“We will never get ahead of our road systems ongoing deterioration. All this political gaming gets in the way of doing the hard work of fixing things,” she said.