By SARAH MANN Daily News Staff
RICHFIELD — The village might have found a solution to its road problem.
The problem is that Richfield has 154 miles of road to maintain, and not a lot of money with which to maintain them. Village President John Jeffords said that ideally, crews would be repaving 8- or 9-mile stretches of road each year, but the current count comes in at 3-4 miles because that’s what the village’s budget can support. In 2012, road project costs were $65,702; in 2013, they were $44,186.
Craig Kunkel said his firm can get it done in $19,700.
West Bend officials contracted with Kunkel in November to work on their infrastructure; Justice said the city cut its engineering department from 15 staff members to three after outsourcing the work to Kunkel Engineering, which is based in Beaver Dam but now boasts a satellite office in West Bend.
“We’ve had a wonderful transition,” Justice told the board. “He’s very logical; he’s very practical.”
Justice offered his assistance to Richfield should officials need additional help. “We’re here to help and hopefully all share in the benefits,” Justice said.
According to the village’s vote, officials would enter into an agreement with Kunkel’s company that would take care of the road repairs’ design, permitting, bidding and construction and inspection.
“Our firm does only municipal engineering work. We have no private clients,” Kunkel told the board. He said he understands the way municipalities operate, especially in postrecession days. “We wind up needing to do more with less. That’s just the way things work these days,” he said.
Kunkel outlined his credentials, but he also had experience with the village working in his favor.
“We’ve worked with Kunkel before,” Interim Richfield Village Administrator Jim Healy said. “This isn’t so much about intergovernmental cooperation as it is innovation in government.”
Kunkel also had a familiar voice speaking on his behalf: Joshua Schoemann, Richfield’s former village administrator who recently became Washington County manager, had been working to foster the agreement between Kunkel and the village before he was appointed to the higher office. Schoemann appeared at the board meeting to present remarks as a county ambassador.
“This is something I think is a great opportunity to the village of Richfield,” Schoemann said. “It’s a positive approach to work together with the city of West Bend and also save the taxpayers some money while doing that.”