By Steve Welcenbach,
According to the August 15th Sussex Sun, an informal, open-house style hearing regarding the proposed Bugline trail paving project was organized by the Waukesha County Parks staff for Wednesday, August 29th from 5-7 PM in the Quad/Graphics room at Pauline Haas Public Library on Main Street in Sussex.
Since its inception, the Menomonee Falls Taxpayer Association (MFTP) has been opposed to the Bugline Trail paving project. This project embodies the ultimate example of what ails government at all levels in America – unnecessary and unwise spending.
The Bugline Trail is currently one of the most heavily used recreation trails in the state, used extensively by many people in my neighborhood including myself. Almost every Bugline Trail user I asked about this paving project said they like the trail as it is and want it kept as a gravel base. This response was universal – from bikers, walkers, runners and snowmobilers.
According to some sources close to the project, the price tag for the trail paving is about $1.6 million. Apparently the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is supposed to pay for about half of the project. MFTP knows that all federal money comes from taxpayers and has plenty of strings attached to it. The most important thing this Federal “grant” will do for the Federal government is grant them a stakeholder position for any future decisions regarding our own Waukesha County trail. We WILL regret this Federal money if this project comes to pass.
Secondly, the argument has apparently been made that the paving will pay for itself through saved maintenance costs. MFTP has several members familiar with contracting, construction and maintenance work. In order to obtain a ten year return on investment (ROI), four times the acceptable amount for most private companies, the annual maintenance outlay for the county for this trail would need to be $160,000/year not considering inflation. Bugline Trail experience shows that
very little maintenance and improvements have occurred in the last 10 years. We’re not getting very much for our $160,000.
The calculation of these so called “saved” maintenance costs should be quite interesting if they have truly ever been done. And of course, unless they are planning to eliminate the wooded edges of the trail which really makes the Bugline Trail so attractive, trees still fall across and bushes still grow next to the paved trail just as they do next to the gravel one. This maintenance does not disappear, nor does the fact that asphalt splinters and frost wedges from heating and freezing, requiring repair in many areas from time to time. And the not so unusual colossal rainstorms like we had in July of 2010 will wash out parts of the asphalt trail requiring expensive repairs. Real data and logical calculations need to be provided for this line of argument to have any merit. Pictures of washout areas won’t do it.
Lastly, this project exemplifies just how far afield our county spending priorities have gone. Do we really need to spend $1.6 million dollars to pave an already heavily used recreational trail that people like as is? Do we need to take $800,000 from other Waukesha County taxpayers and $800,000 in Federal money borrowed from China to appease a vocal and politically powerful band of a few dozen people?
Why do our elected officials feel the need to find more ways to spend money instead of more ways to be frugal? Why do we get the excuse from our elected ones that because no one told them not to spend the money that they should go ahead and do it? Why do we let them off so easy? Why is it not their responsibility to safeguard the interests of the electorate with which they have been entrusted? They applied for the job. They proclaimed that they wanted the job. Is it not incumbent upon them to live up to the sworn oath of their offices?
We are overtaxed in Waukesha County. We need to demand that our elected officials begin to reverse the trend of higher tax levies each year. The Bugline Trail paving project provides the perfect opportunity to start this new trend to reverse over-taxation in our county.
Unnecessary and unwise government spending has no place in
Waukesha County, Ground Zero in the fight for freedom in America.
Steve Welcenbach is
the President of the Menomonee Falls Taxpayers Association and has been a
resident of Menomonee Falls since 1991.