Merrill receives $1.5 million in BCPL loans

The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) last week approved four loans totaling a little more than $2.0 million to benefit one school district and two municipalities across Wisconsin to fund their public purpose projects. Two of the loans totaling over $1.5 million went to the City of Merrill.

Loans approved at last week’s meeting include:

• Johnson Creek School District – Jefferson County / Refinance prior service pension liability / $175,000

• City of Merrill – Lincoln County / Finance capital equipment purchase and facility improvements / $780,150

• City of Merrill – Lincoln County / Finance building improvements and infrastructure projects / $737,275

• Village of Roberts – St. Croix County / Finance street improvements / $400,000

The Merrill Common Council approved applying for the loans at its October meeting.

The Board also approved the sale of 55.25 acres of land located in the town of Florence in Florence County to the Wisconsin DNR. In addition to the Trust Lands being isolated, the property is a natural area quality cedar swamp with frontage on a Class I trout stream. The sale of the property to the DNR will ensure the long-term protection of the natural and scenic resources of the property, while allowing BCPL to reinvest the proceeds in timber producing lands.

The Board has purchased 8,262 acres of land since being granted land bank authority by the legislature in April 2006. In addition, BCPL has sold 8,982 acres of land poorly suited for timber production or located within the boundaries of another government agency. As directed by the legislature, proceeds from the sale of those Trust Lands can be reinvested in other property, which helps the agency meet its goal of consolidating its Trust Lands and increasing timber revenue to benefit public education. This consolidation plan improves land management efficiency for the agency. In addition, BCPL’s ability to support sustainable timber management, reduce forest fragmentation, permanently protect unique natural areas and improve public access is enhanced with these purchases.

In the last 12 months, including actions approved today, the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands has approved 194 loan applications totaling almost $164.4 million. The loans can be made to municipalities and school districts for any public purpose.

Created in 1848 by the Wisconsin Constitution, the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands was established to accept federal land grants and to manage trust funds for the benefit of public education in Wisconsin. The Board consists of Secretary of State Doug La Follette, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and State Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass. The majority of Trust Fund assets are held in the Common School Fund, from which the majority of State Trust Fund loans are issued. Earnings from this fund are distributed to K 12 public school libraries annually.

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