Water

West Salem Schools, Clean Water, Greenbelt Waste Referendum April 5 Voting Government & Politics

La Crosse County voters will head to the polls on April 5 for three referendums in addition to local elections, ranging from budget issues to garbage collection.

There has only been one county-wide voter referendum, a consultative question on whether the state should establish the right to clean water.

Voters will be able to vote yes or no on the following questions:

“Should Wisconsin establish the right to clean water to protect human health, the environment, and Wisconsin’s diverse cultural and natural heritage?”

Responses to the referendum are scheduled to be sent to various groups across the state and to Governor Tony Evers’ office. The question stems from a statewide campaign called Clean Water Now.

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For West Salem School District voters, they will weigh exceeding the district’s three-year income limit to help pay for programming and services, facility maintenance and upgrades, and competitive employee wages.

The district is asking to exceed its income limit by $2.5 million in fiscal years 2022-23 and 2023-24, and by $2.75 million in fiscal year 2024-25.

According to the district, the additional funds will not pay for any new programs or services, and will only maintain existing programs or services.

Maintenance will be a priority for elementary and high schools in the area, which will all require new roofs, an updated high school welding lab, and an updated outdoor education center, among other general maintenance. In addition, more parking spaces near the school sports facility “Panther Den” are also included in the facility plan.

Finally, school districts want to maintain competitive wages in order to retain employees and recruit new ones. The district said 58 percent of its employees have been with the district for more than six years.

“We want to honour the commitments they have made to our region by compensating them fairly,” the district said in its information packet.

Under these new income boundaries, the district’s three-year tax rate will be set at $8.32, the lowest in 20 years. At that rate, a $100,000 property would pay about $832.

If the referendum fails, the district said it will need to consider a $1.6 million budget cut that could impact staffing, class sizes and facility upgrades.

In another referendum, residents of the town of Greenfield will be able to vote on whether they should switch to curbside collection points across the town, rather than offering rubbish deliveries at its recycling centres.

It was an advisory, non-binding referendum, meaning it was essentially just a poll of the community. The final decision will be made by the town council.

According to the town’s notice on the referendum, a new curbside pickup program will cost the town about $111,130, about $98,543 more than it currently pays for waste management. Through April 2023, it will pay Hilltopper Refuse & Recycling Service $78,000 for pick-up and drop-off services.

It’s unclear what the cost will be for individual homeowners, but if approved, trash will be collected weekly and recycled every other week.

If curbside pickup is implemented, the town says it could sell the recycling center land for a profit.

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