Dunn County approves land purchase of 20 acres for $175,000

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  The Dunn County Board has approved purchasing 20 acres to expand the county’s solid waste and recycling center on state Highway 29 west of Menomonie.

The 20 acres is directly west of the existing facility, and the property will be purchased for $8,750 per acre from Justin Merritt for a total price of $175,000, said Morgan Gerk, director of Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling, at the county board’s March 15 meeting.

The existing solid waste and recycling center was built about 25 years ago.

The Dunn County Board’s solid waste and recycling committee, along with the county board’s Planning, Resources and Development committee, recommended that the county board approve the purchase.

The county also will pay for relocating the field driveway 400 feet to the west as part of the purchase.

Because the 20 acres is adjacent to the existing facility, it is an ideal site for future expansion, Gerk said.

The existing recycling and transfer station has insufficient space and is “bursting at the seams,” he said.

The entire parcel where the 20 acres is located is 29 acres, and Gerk said county officials had initially wanted to buy the entire 29 acres.

The 29-acre parcel was appraised at $137,000, and Dunn County originally proposed purchasing it for $5,000 per acre for a total of $145,000.

Merritt declined the first offer, and the second offer was $7,500 for 20 acres for a total of $150,000, plus Dunn County paying for moving the field driveway, Merritt said.

Merritt also declined the second offer, Gerk said.

The third offer was for 20 acres at $8,750 per acre for a total of $175,000, plus $8,400 to move the field driveway 400 feet, he said.

Merritt accepted the third offer, Gerk said, noting the landowner wanted to retain nine acres, presumably to provide access to woods Merritt owns on the far end of the property.

The money for the purchase of the property will come from the solid waste and recycling divisions’s fund balance and will not come from the county’s general fund balance, Gerk said. 

“We could not have found a better piece of land since it is contiguous,” Gerk said. 

The Dunn County Board unanimously approved buying 20 acres from Justin Merritt at a cost of $175,000 with the money coming from the solid waste and recycling enterprise fund. 

Other business 

In other business, the Dunn County Board:

• Approved on a second reading an amendment to the Dunn County code of ordinances pertaining to eligibility lists for hiring deputies in the Dunn County sheriff’s department. The changes eliminate the requirement that applicants be eligible to serve at the time they apply to being eligible to serve at the time they are ready to begin employment. The changes, which are in response to fewer applicants for deputy positions, will make it easier for applicants who are still in school to apply. The changes also require drug testing as part of a pre-employment background check. State law requires drug testing but Dunn County’s previous ordinance did not.

• Approved 2017 budget adjustments in the amount of $967,060. The various amounts are carry-forwards from the 2016 budget for projects that had included funding in the budget but were not completed last year. Items include $86,948 for the Register of Deeds office for a redaction project; $15,000 for the sheriff’s department for evidence software; $13,500 for the county clerk’s office for archiving system software, and $15,000 for free stage construction at the Dunn County Rec Park for the county fair.

• Approved a resolution supporting the Dunn County district attorney’s request for more assistant district attorneys and for more pay for assistant district attorneys. The Dunn County district attorney’s office operates with the elected district attorney and two assistant district attorneys. The DA’s office charged 3,020 cases in 2016. The national standard is to have one prosecutor for every 10,000 in population. Dunn County has one prosecutor for every 15,000 residents. 

• Approved a resolution designating the week of April 3 through April 7 as work zone awareness week in Dunn County. According to the background information included with the resolution, every year, there are about 1,600 accidents in highway work zones, resulting in 720 injuries and eight fatalities in work zones in Wisconsin.