(9/12/12) The city attorney in La Crosse has accused a conservation group of improperly getting over a million dollars in government funds to preserve bluffs within the city.
In a presentation to the Common Council, La Crosse attorney Phil Addis accused the Mississippi Valley Conservancy group of rewriting its books. According to Addis, an audit found that the group used city funds for purposes beyond what was allowed in its bluff-land protection contract – and the group failed to keep a commitment to transfer 760 acres to the city. Addis also told the La Crosse Council that the conservancy did not disclose that it received city funds when it applied for state stewardship grants. As a result, he said the conservancy owes the state D-N-R almost 520-thousand dollars, while owing the city about 625-thousand. The conservancy tells the La Crosse Tribune it has accounted for every cent of its funding. Director Tim Jacobson said the city is going on a witch hunt to try and kill the bluff-land protection program. The Tribune says the city and the conservancy have been at odds for over a year on the amount of money that was put toward the program. Addis says his office will try to get aldermen to pass a measure tomorrow which puts the conservancy in default of its contract – and to get the group to pay up. The bluff-land program expires at the end of this year. Jacobson told the paper he's upset that he has not been able to address the Council directly about the matter – and he hopes to do so tomorrow.