Dodge County Board Approves Another Round Of ARPA Investments

(Juneau) The Dodge County Board has allocated another portion of their American Rescue Plan Act funding. The county received just over $17-million in Rescue Act dollars. The money must be committed no later than 2024 and be expended by the end of 2026. The board approved $914-thousand-dollars at their most recent meeting, after signing off on roughly $3.4-million last month.

The most discussed proposal, and the only one that was voted down, was to use $400-thousand-dollars to design and engineer a countywide middle mile fiber network. The funds would have been used to leverage grant opportunities and other broadband infrastructure investments to improve connectivity across the county.

Some argued, like Supervisor David Guckenberger, that the project would do nothing to meet the needs of those in the most underserved areas. He says the project will never clearly address the broadband needs of the bulk of the county.

Supervisor Andrew Johnson, who sits on the committee that scores and then advances proposals for the full county board to vote on, says the money will not address all the county’s internet needs but they wanted to do something. He says the county does not want to be in the internet business but they can provide a plan and help coordinate that through private vendors and other means.

Ultimately, the project failed to garner the three-fourths majority needed to pass.

The board did approve investing $200-thousand-dollars to the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation for expanding childcare access across the region. Supervisor Benjamin Priesgen says childcare is important and is a key component to improving the quality of life for the people of Dodge County.

The board also approved allocating $70-thousand-dollars towards the third phase of the Gold Star Memorial Trail, $150-thousand for cyber security, $490-thousand to repave County Highway S, and $4,000 to purchase absentee ballot envelopes.