KOSHKONONG — With an out-of-town farmer having been ticketed for driving an overweight truck on town roads, the Town of Koshkonong Board of Supervisors held a listening session Wednesday night regarding agricultural equipment on town roadways.
In the end, residents indicated a preference to remaining with the current option the town has with the State of Wisconsin — Option F for Implements of Husbandry, or farm vehicles and equipment (IoH).
Option F means that a state-issued table governs any IoH, exception for category B — self-propelled combines, forage harvester, fertilizer or pesticide application equipment, towed or attached tillage, planting, harvesting or cultivation equipment, or other self-propelled equipment that aids in harvesting.
Any equipment that exceeds the weight limits on the table (which explains weight limits for vehicles from two to eight axels and distance between axels) must apply for the permit through the town.
Town Chairman Bill Burlingame said as the meeting started that he wanted feedback from the township farmers.
“Really, I’d like to hear from you folks,” Burlingame said, saying that farmers are a large part of the community of Koshkonong and should have a say in the decision.
As the farmers took about an hour before the board meeting to discuss the matter, three options came to the forefront: staying with Option F, or switching to option A or B.
One farmer, Mark Schnell, immediately voiced a preference to staying with Option F.
“I travel these roads quite a bit, and personally, I don’t see the need to change,” he said.
A discussion then went on about vehicles in the town that would exceed the weight limit, and the farmers generally agreed with the 92,000-pound limit on the state table.
Town Clerk Kim Cheney also explained that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is now recommending Option A — which involves no permits, but posting on roads that involve a weight limit and giving a route to category B vehicles — which the town originally had chosen in the fall of 2014 before switching that December to match Jefferson County’s decision.
Town supervisors also weighed in on the options, with Stacy Kutz clarifying the town’s original stances in 2014, and Supervisor George Jaeckel expressing concern that switching to Option A would give the DOT a chance to potentially fine farmers more.
In the discussion, farmers in attendance, as well as the supervisors, spoke about the quality of roads in Koshkonong, which have been deteriorating for the past several years to the point that the town is borrowing money for roadwork this year. One man pointed out that many want people with “unreasonable” vehicle use off the town roads — people who damage the roads, but don’t contribute through taxes for its upkeep.
Burlingame and others also expressed concerns that any changes to the roads with IoH could lead to more commercial traffic on the roads that are already in poor condition.
In weighing the options, one farmer asked if the town could modify one of the six options to best suit its needs, but the answer was no.
“Our hands are going to be tied on some parts of it,” Burlingame said. “My goal is to try and prevent you guys from getting tickets.”
From the conversation about which would be the best option also came a discussion about farm vehicles being on main roads and drivers being impatient with them.
“Respect and a little kindness will go a long way,” said one man, complaining about drivers speeding and also passing illegally on double yellow lines. However, Burlingame said enforcement is an issue with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office being understaffed and no other viable option to patrol the area.
Also at the regular board meeting that followed:
• The board of supervisors approved its rural fire protection 10-year contract with the City of Fort Atkinson, although there were concerns with pages potentially missing from the contract presented at the meeting. The cost of the first year of the contract is $167,493.34, with an increase tied to the consumer price index for the following nine years of no less than 2 percent and not to exceed 6 percent.
• The board approved the final resolution to borrow $500,000 for road construction and sealcoating projects for 2019. The three-year repayment term has a 1.9-percent annual interest rate.
• The town heard a complaint from resident Jae Ames, who said he was “up to here” with the town not addressing problems on Kunz Road, where he lives.
“I shouldn’t need to come in here and beg,” said Ames, who handed out pictures of the potholes on the road. “You guys need to figure it out.”
• The board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Town of Sumner for recycling, but costs were not listed in the resolution.