La Crosse County Board chair looks back at major accomplishments in 2019

From funding road repairs to trying to get additional support from state lawmakers, it’s been a big year for La Crosse County. While there have been some hurdles, there were a number of things La Crosse County Board Chair Tara Johnson and the board were proud of.

At the beginning of the year, the county was pushing for a Premier Resort Area Tax, which would have increased taxes on tourism-related goods and services to fund road repairs.

We need the state Legislature to give a waiver to La Crosse County. And even though our voters said yes, the Legislature wouldn’t even let it come out of committee, said Johnson.

This is a bit symbolic of the relationship between the county and state officials.

It does feel like there’s been a long time of the state really not feeling like a full partner, Johnson said.

Johnson said while Gov. Tony Evers’ new administration seems to be supportive, there’s still little to no additional funding coming from the Legislature.

Just a lot more receptivity to our concerns as counties, but the money’s not there, the money’s not there yet, Johnson said.

Despite not a lot of funding and budget cuts at federal and state levels, she said the county has been able to maintain its services in 2019 and expects to do so again next year.

Being able to keep services going in this era is a big accomplishment in and of itself, Johnson said.

So instead of waiting on the state, the county has taken on paying for road repairs itself, with plans to do even more next year.

The fact that we were able to do a little over $2 million in improvements on our own in La Crosse County is a big accomplishment, Johnson said.

One of the other noteworthy changes Johnson mentioned was the county’s new website. While that might not seem big, it was more useful for people, especially residents, and made the county’s work more transparent.

All of this happened with a number of vacancies on the county board. District 18 Supervisor Laurence Berg resigned for health reasons and was replaced by Noelle Weber Strauss. Then in October, there was the death of David Hotlze. Holtze served as the District 12 supervisor for eight years.

Dave was so consistent and so principled in how he voted and how he debated in this room. Just a really excellent public servant, Johnson said.

But like other difficult times and challenges the board has faced this year, its members be taking it in stride into the next year.