By DAVID KRIER
The Boscobel Common Council voted in favor of acquiring the Wisconsin River boat landing from Grant County Monday night. Now it’s up to the county board and its committees to decide if they want to part with it, and for how much. There had been talk in the past of the county selling the boat landing to the city for $1.
“We have heard in the past that they are interested in selling it,” said Mayor Steve Wetter. “There are a lot of things we would like to do out there, but of course that all costs money.”
It was all about the money when it came to Robert Scallon, Boscobel’s representative on the Grant County Board and a member of its Parks Committee.
“If this comes to a vote, I’ll be voting no, because this is county money,” Scallon said, pointing out that the county has owned the boat landing for the past 40 years. “We had a good deal until about four years ago. I wish you would consider there are costs here. This is going to get bigger; it’s been advertised very well. It could double.”
Scallon was referring to the approximately 3,000 canoeists that use the boat landing each year, most of which are customers of Wisconsin River Outings in Boscobel.
However, Wetter assured Scallon that coming up with money to maintain the landing would not be a problem. He said the DNR has pledged $1,000 annually to help maintain the landing. Scott Teuber, owner of Wisconsin River Outings, has pledged an additional $1,500. Wetter said there are also grants available and a launch fee like the one currently in place in Prairie du Chien would probably be put into effect for both canoes and motor boats.
“All you do is mow the grass out there and dredge out the opening every several years,” Wetter told Scallon. “We will make sure it’s cleared out every year, which is more than the county does.”
Wetter said it would cost the city about $1,000 per year to dredge open the boat landing entrance. The police department already patrols the landing and city crews could mow it without much additional strain on the Parks Department.
“Everyone here is looking at the recreational value of that boat landing,” said City Administrator Arlie Harris. “When Bob says it’s going to double out there, we say great; it brings more people into town. At the same time we want to keep peace in the family, including the fishermen, and I think we can do that.”
The Council also approved a preliminary 2015 City Operating Budget of $2,549,437—an increase of 0.5 percent over this year’s budget. Harris is currently seeking bids to refinance a city loan of $331,352 that has an interest rate of 3.25 percent. As of Monday, two of the city’s four banks had submitted bids, one much lower than the current interest rate. Once re-financed, the loan would be amortized over ten years, with loan proceeds, after payoff of current debt, estimated at approximately $1.1 million. That money would be earmarked for a new “Capital Improvements Fund.”
“Right now we don’t have the money for any capital improvements,” Harris said. “We’ve had requests for a new furnace at the library, and possibly an elevator. The police department is talking squad cars. This fund would be used for things like that, which the Council would have to approve."
The city’s budget summary is available for public inspection at City Hall, 1006 Wisconsin Ave. from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. A public hearing on the 2015 budget will be held on Monday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
In other action, the Council:
• Approved a request from the Chamber of Commerce to close Depot Lane from 5-9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5 for the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony;
• Approved replacing Jennifer Borzick on the Library Board with Melissa Uselman.