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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Public hearings season

Many communities are beginning to work out their budgets for the coming year. Budgets are where say meets do.

Sometimes it's hard to know what is being considered and when and where the public may provide input. You almost need to sit, like a polar bear (back in the normal times) waiting patiently by an air hole, for something to pop up on legistar,  one of the least user friendly sites in the world (every step, a new. pdf download) or squint through the tiny print in the Public Notices section of the newspaper (if Captchas and ads and paywall polls don't knock you out first.)

Agendas are often not listed until the last minute. Titles of resolutions don't always make sense. Public hearings are sometimes scheduled in the middle of a work day morning with no clear path for feedback if you can't attend a meeting. There's always email, I guess.

There are a few opportunities we know of coming up for public comment. Not all of these are specifically about budgets, but in a way, all of them are about budgets. Please attend or participate if you can, or at least check out the issues and call or email council and or board reps to weigh in. (We will gladly post more if you know of others.)

For City of La Crosse, here's the page to keep your eye on.

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30, the La Crosse Judiciary & Administration Committee, will discuss 19-0906, AN ORDINANCE to create Division 6 of Ch. 115, Art. VII of the Code of  Ordinances of the City of La Crosse regarding Solar Energy Systems. It appears this is an effort to make it easier for individuals, businesses, and other entities to put solar panels on their properties. Thus is a needed step in the live to turn from fossil fuels. If you can attend to show support for this ordinance, please do. You don't need to speak, just register in support. The meeting will be in the council chambers, City Hall.

At that same meeting, a permit for demolishing existing buildings for yet more parking lots will be considered. How does this fit into our sustainable future where we need to make it harder, not easier, to keep driving individual fossil fueled vehicles and expecting storage at every possible stop. Plus there is the issue of embodied carbon.

The public transportation system we have now has very limited routes and schedules compared to the current needs of workers, students, those who don't or can't own and drive cars, and those who prefer the lower carbon footprint of public transportation. One of the biggest gaps is in MTU service between La Crosse and Onalaska (the #9) which stops at Gundersen Onalaska, Woodmans, the DOT office, Mayo Onalaska, Center 90, and Onalaska City Hall among others. The #9 only runs hourly for few hours on week days and the schedule has a big three hour hole right in the middle of the day.  The service was better a few years ago before the budget was cut, an equivalent of about sixty cents per family per year by some estimates.

If you would improved service and have a story to tell (you have trouble getting to Ona Mayo appointments, you can't work at thd Ona Y because thr bus doesn't go there, your elderly relative has to get a ride everywhere because of bad bus service, or whatever), please go to the Onalaska City Council's Utilities committee meeting at 7 pm on Wednesday, August 7 at Onalaska City Hall.

An ongoing campaign by Citizen Action Wisconsin is encouraging people to contact their electricity provider soon and tell them to apply to be part of the USDA's Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP) which makes loans to energy providers like electric co-ops who in turn provide affordable, long term loans to energy users for energy saving upgrades - everything from caulking andvinsulating to replacing appliances, installing renewable energy systems, replacing inefficient equipment, and more. This one is a relatively easy action since CA has created an online petition. Read more about it, and about CA's plan to organize in our area, at their website.

On September 4, the Department of Ag, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hold a public hearing in Onalaska on updating CAFO siting rules, something that is drastically overdue. The hearing will be at Stoney Creek Hotel, 3060 South Kinney Coulee Drive in Onalaska from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. You may also comment online or via mail or email. Get all the info and details at tinyurl.com/atcp51update

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