La Crosse City Council approves $7.28 million capital budget for 2023, including more hybrid buses | Government and politics

Hybrid buses, a new fire truck, pool chairs and body armor are among the things the city plans to buy next year with its $7.28 million capital budget.

La Crosse City Council approved the 2023-2027 capital budget Thursday night, making only minor adjustments that slightly lowered the total dollar amount.

This is the first piece of the city’s budget puzzle. The equipment budget is incorporated into the city’s project budget later this year. This total is then incorporated into the overall operational budget, which is adopted in November. It’s a long process and changes can still be made to the equipment budget by the fall.

In total, the city’s transit service has the highest capital budget of any department, requesting $2.34 million. Next is the fire department, which requested $1,369,820.

All of the department’s other equipment requests were under $1 million.

A change was made to the fire department’s budget at the last minute due to supply chain issues.

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Acting Fire Chief Jeff Murphy told city council he was recently told it would take up to two years to deliver a new $700,000 fire truck slated for 2024.


Steve Rundio

In order to still receive it in 2024, the department decided to trade the item for an $850,000 hazmat team response vehicle that was budgeted for 2023.

This means that the department will technically not receive any of the pieces of equipment in 2023, but will pay for the fire truck that will be delivered in 2024 along with the hazmat vehicle.

“It’s a good strategic move,” Mayor Mitch Reynolds said, applauding the department.

Additionally, the city eliminated funding for a yard waste compactor, with officials saying it was no longer needed. The $22,000 budgeted for this item in 2023 will now go to a compactor box.

Both pieces of equipment essentially do similar things by helping transport garden waste, such as leaves and other organic waste, to compost.

These are the only changes to the original equipment budget, originally proposed at $7.4 million.

For MTU, next year’s capital budget will continue its sustainability efforts.

Its entire $2.34 million budget will help purchase three new hybrid city buses.

This is in addition to two electric buses and other clean diesel buses that have already hit the streets of the city. La Crosse is one of the first communities in the state to bring hybrid and electric buses online, and the initiative has garnered national attention, bringing Democratic President Joe Biden and other lawmakers to the city to visit. the installations.

According to the budget, these buses will replace other 2007 equipment that is in “poor” condition with over 600,000 miles driven.

The new buses have a lifespan of 12 years and 500,000 miles, and include new accessibility measures in addition to reducing carbon emissions.

These buses will largely be paid for with the help of $1,872,000 in state and federal dollars.

At the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, $40,000 will be spent on new pool chairs at the city’s three pools.

130 chairs will be purchased for $308 each. According to the budget, this will help address the lack of seating around pools that has been raised as a concern by users.

This will specifically help the Veterans Memorial Pool, where there is currently no furniture. Chairs at other pools are either insufficient or worn out.

In addition, the parks department will purchase a logging truck and a Buffalo turbine blower. His total for equipment is $236,000.

The La Crosse Police Department will spend its annual $20,000 on 20 new body armor, its only request for equipment.

These are purchased at $1,000 each and are awarded to a single officer. Each vest has a five-year warranty period, and the police department is contractually bound to replace the vests when they expire.

Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds, Mayor of La Crosse

The street department will purchase a new motor grader, which is used for road construction and snow removal, as well as a truck vacuum sweeper, a walk-behind lift, a forklift and a portable digital readout board which is used for traffic advisories for a total of $874,500.

At the La Crosse Regional Airport, $720,000 will be spent on a snow plow truck, lawn mower and tar pot.

Citywide, $218,978 will be invested in updates to the public safety radio system.

The current system uses a version that is four times older than the most recent version, and the upgrade will give the city access to 24-hour support for any radio issues.

La Crosse County is paying $13,981 in 2023 to help support this radio system update.

Other fire department expenses include special operations teams and urban search and rescue response equipment. This is an $80,000 annual replacement of equipment such as scuba gear, hazmat meters, ropes and rigging equipment, and other personal protective equipment.

In addition, the fire department has requested new heart monitors and related equipment, medical and life support equipment, 10 new thermal imaging cameras and dual band radios.

Technology updates worth $349,000 will be directed to the Information Technology (IT) department. This includes general equipment upgrades such as laptops and purchase warranties on technology equipment.

It will also help purchase new cameras to add to the city’s current “Domain Awareness System”, which is a security system and series of cameras used by the police department.

In addition, the IT department will replace its network equipment, services and storage equipment.

Center La Crosse continues to go through its latest massive $42 million expansion project. In 2023, its only equipment request is to install four new benches for public use in front of the building.

The 2023 capital budget continues the city’s upward spending trend, nearly tripling the capital budget by $2.6 million from 2019. In 2022, the capital budget was approximately $6.9 million, from approximately $4.8 million in 2021, from approximately $5.6 million in 2020.

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