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Viewpoint: County delivering road upgrades, holding down taxes

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opinion Cottage Grove, 55016

Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

As we come to the end of 2013, I wanted to share with you the accomplishments we made to our Washington County highway system this year and give you a glimpse into the future.

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First, I want to thank everyone for their patience during this past construction season. As you know, roads are a top priority of mine and I have been a strong advocate for additional funding for our county roads. This advocacy has resulted in 2013 being the largest road construction season in county history and much of that work occurred here in the southern portion of the county. In fact, since I began my first term as a county commissioner in 2011, Washington County has invested nearly $13 million in transportation infrastructure in Cottage Grove and Denmark Township. This work includes improvements to County Road 76, Keats Avenue, 70th Street, 65th Street, Military Road and Innovation Road.

In addition to repairing crumbling roads, the county is also responding to safety issues and addressing them responsibly. A section of 70th Street was re-striped this fall to provide a safer roadway and reduce crashes. We will continue to actively monitor this section of road, and if the restriping program is successful, residents will see additional re-striping completed on 70th Street, east of Hardwood Avenue. We have also started the process of having the state review the posted speed limits on this roadway.

Our county vision is “A great place to live, work, and play… today and tomorrow.” Providing a safe, efficient, and cost-effective roadway system not only reflects the values of our community but also helps make that vision a reality. Over the next five years, our construction plan includes more than $18 million of highway improvements programmed and budgeted for south Washington County. This includes improvements to 70th Street, County Road 78, County Road 21, Military Road and many others.

I am proud that we have been able to deliver these transportation improvements while holding down property taxes. The sound financial management of the County Board is one reason why Washington County holds a AAA bond rating from both rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s. This is the highest bond rating an agency can obtain and is difficult to achieve. In fact, fewer than two percent of counties in the nation have obtained this rating. Having this impressive bond rating is a great benefit to taxpayers. When we refinanced bonds last year, our AAA bond rating enabled us to save Washington County taxpayers $4.275 million. This was another way we were able to stretch your tax dollars further during the Great Recession.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve our great community. As always, please contact me anytime with any comments, concerns or questions.

Autumn Lehrke represents south Washington County communities on the County Board.

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