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Tuesday, November 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 22.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily
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Dane County rail referendum refuseniks

Dane County Supv. Dave Wiganowsky is just thrilled with the success of efforts in municipalities throughout the county to put an advisory referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot asking whether citizens want to pay an extra half-cent in sales tax to fund commuter rail.

"People are saying, 'Hey, it's about time we expressed our thoughts about what is going on," says Wiganowsky. Many of them feel commuter rail (actually just one component of the proposed tax) would mainly benefit one community. "They're telling us, 'It's all about Madison.'"

As of mid-week, 36 Dane County communities have passed resolutions calling for this referendum. These include four of the county's seven cities (Stoughton, Sun Prairie, Verona and Middleton), 10 villages (Cambridge, Cottage Grove, Cross Plains, DeForest, Waunakee, Marshall, Mount Horeb, Dane, Deerfield, McFarland) and 22 towns. Wiganowsky says these communities include 172,000 residents, nearly half the county total.

But the referendum has drawn fire from some, who call it misleading and premature (see Marc Eisen's opinion column, "Give Trains a Chance," 9/10/10). And at least 10 municipalities, including the cities of Madison and Fitchburg, have said no.

"There hasn't been enough discussion about this," says Ed Minihan, longtime chairman of the town of Dunn's board, which voted unanimously against the referendum. "A lot of people are just reacting.

"Before there is a referendum, which I think should be countywide, there should be a thorough airing of the facts. That hasn't happened yet."

Pat Troge, president of the Black Earth village board, agrees: "Why waste taxpayers' money voting on a nonbonding referendum when there's no proposal?"

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