Rusk County supervisors unanimously approved the sale of $3.9 million in general obligation promissory notes to finance 2019 and 2020 capital improvement projects.

At its Dec. 17 meeting, the county board also approved a resolution for a loan from a trust funds of the State of Wisconsin for $157,187 for the purpose of financing improvements at the Rusk County fairgrounds.

Supervisors approved the issuance of general obligation promissory notes for $3,115,000 and $860,000. The first note is for financing 2019 and 2020 capital improvement projects. The second note is set for refunding obligations of Rusk County.

Robert W. Baird & Co. will negotiate the sale of the notes and the anticipated conservative interest rate is 2.47 percent.

The county has a strong A+ rating, making the selling of the bonds more secure. The county is allowed to borrow up to 5 percent equalization value of the county, which is $64 million. The sale of $3.9 million in bonds allows for a great capacity of future investment in the county.

The funds will be used to help fund fuel, courthouse exterior locks, flooring, jail fire alarm, the Sheriff Office’s Spillman Flex software, state refinancing and $1.5 million for the blacktop plant replacement.

Payments of the bonds will begin March 2021 and continue through March 2030.

Rusk County Highway Commissioner Scott Emch presented the 2019 annual report for the highway department and said in 2020 the county will see some needed capital improvements despite being required to find creative ways to finance the projects.

The county will be able to complete a $1.66 million road project in 2020 where about half of the funds will come from the CHIP program. County V in the southeast part of county will see the improvements of the project.

Participation in the county bridge program will allow for four bridge projects to be completed. The program provides 80 percent of the funding for new bridges. If Mother Nature cooperates, one bridge in the township of Stubbs, and bridges on County D, I and B will be improved in 2020.

Road ratings throughout the county score an average Pacer rating of 6.5-6.6 out of ten, which according to Emch is a respectable rating. The county has approximately 255 miles of roads each with a 30-year lifespan.

During 2019 the highway department built a new fuel station in front of the highway shop building. The updated station was mandated and required by the state. Emch said the Rusk County fuel station serves a lot of townships and the county and also emphasized the need to have fuel on hand during emergency or disaster situations.

County Forest Administrator Jeremy Koslowski presented the 2020 forestry annual work plan focused on sustainability. The forestry department uses a drone to scan for and identify patches of disease. County forests are 50 percent northern hardwood, 28 percent aspen and 23 percent oak.

In terms of long range planning, cutting 2,900 acres of it’s 89,000 acres of forest per year will allow the county to never run out of lumber.

Supervisors approved of a Department of Natural Resources study of Devil’s Creek to determine if the water quality in the creek needs to be rehabilitated. Recent changes to the water shed have caused a decrease in the trout population.

Supervisors also approved the creation of an additional jailer-dispatch position to alleviate overtime costs without increasing the budget. The new position will fill open shifts where needed.

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