City pulls back on roadwork as state moves in

Capital budget downsized for state projects

The city of Shawano will pull back on street reconstruction projects next year as the state Department of Transportation moves in to carry out some massive roadwork of its own on state highways.

“It’ll seem like the whole darn town’s being torn up,” said City Administrator Brian Knapp.

Department of Public Works Coordinator Eddie Sheppard said the city has had “a couple big years in a row” catching up on overdue projects.

Next year, the DOT will be working on a Green Bay Street overlay from Main Street to east of Airport Drive that’s expected to last through the summer, reconstruction of both of the city’s railroad crossings and a project from the state Highway 22 bridge on Main Street north to Zingler Avenue.

“Also, Fifth Street is going to be done, and we’re coordinating that with Green Bay Street so they’re not closed at the same time,” Sheppard said.

“We’ve got a lot going on in city-state projects, so we’re kind of taking that as an opportunity to scale back our capital reconstruct a little bit, for this year and even into the next year,” Sheppard said.

Typically, the city borrows for a two-year capital improvements project budget of anywhere from $3.5 million to $5.5 million, Knapp said.

“This year it’s going to be a big pullback from where we were the last several years,” he said. “There will be less city-related work because of all the state roadwork being done.”

Residents should not necessarily expect a big drop in taxes, however.

The city’s tax rate jumped from $9.29 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2017 to $9.89 per $1,000 in 2017.

“It will at least stay the same,” Knapp said, “and maybe go up a little bit because we have inflationary costs.”

Knapp said health care costs “are a big unknown” this year and there are general cost increases associated with wages and general operations and management.

“I don’t expect that we’re going to be looking at any significant increases in our budget,” he said. However, he added, “it’s too soon to tell.”

At least in terms of capital improvement projects, “the pressures that were there last year are not there this year,” Knapp said.

The city last year voted down proposed a wheel tax on car registrations that left a $100,000 hole in the capital improvements project budget.

Knapp said cost savings on CIP projects this year have made up for that shortfall.