County looks at long-range plan

By JOE SUTTER

jsutter@messengernews.net

A long-range capital improvement plan has been prepared by Supervisor Merrill Leffler.

Leffler presented the first draft of the plan to the Webster County Board of Supervisors following budget talks Thursday.

The plan identifies projects to be done on the various county buildings, and at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.

Leffler said the supervisors now need to determine whether the things on the list should actually be there, how they should be funded, and how they should be prioritized from year to year.

“The reason to have a roadmap is to keep up with our capital projects,” Leffler said. “Right now, if something breaks or if something needs to be done with a building, it’s kind of a knee-jerk reaction. We might have the money, or we might not.”

It makes more business sense to let everyone plan ahead, he said.

“If you stay ahead of the game and replace things as needed, rather than doing them on the spur of the moment, it tends to be cheaper,” said Leffler.

Leffler said he spoke with building maintenance workers and heads of several departments in preparing his list.

“This isn’t a list I came up with,” he said. “This was generated from people other than me.”

The supervisors allowed for $700,000 of capital improvements in the fiscal year 2015 budget, but said they likely would not spend that much.

Leffler said it was unlikely work could be done fast enough to spend that much in a year even if they wanted.

Replacements for the backup generator and air conditioning system at the Law Enforcement Center may be near the top of the list.

The supervisors will make decisions at a later date.

Land use comprehensive plan

The supervisors included $30,000 in the budget for work on reviewing and adjusting the county’s land use comprehensive plan, as discussed on Wednesday.

Leffler reiterated that this will be a tweaking, or adjusting, of the current plan, not a rewrite.

The comprehensive plan determines what zoning ordinances will be enacted and how land should be used in the county.

It cost about $76,000 to create the last comprehensive land use plan. That was the first time the county had made a comprehensive plan, said Supervisor Keith Dencklau.

Margo Knippel, who serves on the Planning and Zoning Board, said the plan is meant to last 20 years and is supposed to have a yearly review.

Supervisor Clark Fletcher said the last plan was based on what the public said, not just on what officials wanted. The process of adjusting the plan will require plenty of input from the public as well, he said.

“It needs to be public-driven,” Leffler added.

The supervisors previously said that the plan may not allow for enough flexibility in bringing new industry to the area.

Leffler said the current plan has unclear language about farmland preservation. In a two-acre acreage which has been a home for years, and not farmland, the current language may prevent the homeowner from rebuilding or remodeling the home.

There’s also a need to codify the law, so it is easier to find the information all in one place.