County considers committee term limits
Proposal caps number of years people could serve on the same committee
Members of the Taylor County board of supervisors talked committee and leadership term limits briefly at Tuesday’s reorganizational meeting before moving ahead to approve a virtually unchanged committee structure from recent years.
Supervisor Mike Bub proposed limiting membership on the same committee to 14 consecutive years with no committee to have the same chairman for more than eight consecutive years. If approved, the changes Bub proposed would impact the 2022 county board reorganization, but would take into account previous years served on the committees.
“Since I have been on county board we see very little change on committees,” he said, noting that it would help to give equal representation to all 17 supervisors. Taylor County has historically operated with strong oversight committees and the full board meeting infrequently as needed throughout the year. The potential negative result of this, is that some supervisors - and by extension their constituents — would not have a voice in making county-wide decisions because they are handled at the committee level.
Bub said changing committee leadership would give a chance for new perspectives and new points of view. “If we have the same old people, we can get labeled as a ‘good old boys network,’” Bub said.
Supervisor Chuck Zenner said he had nothing against the idea, but felt it needed to go through a committee review first to ensure that there isn’t a consequence that is being missed if they moved ahead with it. He said he would prefer it go to the committee on committees and rules and then come back. Since it would not go into effect until 2022, he said he felt there was time.
“I am fine with that. My only concern is that I don’t want it to die there,” Bub said, noting he feels it should come back for the full county board to either vote up or down. “I don’t want it to fall into the lake and have it disappear,” Bub said, adding that he wanted to get the conversation started.
Some on the board questioned the practicality of the measure. “What if you don’t have the personnel that want to take these positions?” asked supervisor Earl Hinkel.
“I can’t support it at this time,” said supervisor Lester Lewis. He said the proposal had too many of what he described as gaping loopholes. For example, he said that someone could serve as chairman for seven years, 11 months and then resign for a month without there being a meeting and then be reappointed. He also voiced objection to counting years of past service on the committees and said it should go forward from the date of approval.
In the end, supervisors voted to table the proposed changes and refer them to the committee on committees and rules for discussion to be brought back at a future date.
Other rule revisions were met with little opposition. Supervisor Ray Soper proposed changes to the farmland preservation application acceptance process noting that the county needed to change its practices to match the state process. Lewis also called for the creation of a new standing committee to review the revolving loan requests for the loan program to help residents replace failing private septic systems. These changes were approved unanimously.
With the rule changes out of the way, supervisors continued with the election of officers and elected committees.
Chairman Jim Metz was reelected on an unanimous ballot, as were first vice chairman Chuck Zenner and second vice chairman Scott Mildbrand.
The highway commission elections saw a change with supervisor Rodney Adams selected to replace supervisor Rollie Thums by an 11 to 6 vote after two rounds of balloting. Other highway committee members are Mildbrand, Ray Soper, James Gebauer, and Earl Hinkel.
On the extension/land conservation committee, Soper was elected to be chairman with Lemke and Brooks also elected.
The balloting process for the elected leadership and committees took more than an hour with the board then recessing to allow the committee on committees and rules to meet and go over other appointments. That committee had previously met last week for a preliminary review of committee appointments. There were few changes proposed in the committee memberships.
Power Line funds
The county board approved two power line impact fee requests totally $15,000.
The first request was for $5,000 to help with upgrades to a community ballfield shared by the towns of Jump River and McKinley. The project includes the constructions of two dugouts and new outfield fencing. This is consistent with the funding the county gave to other ballfields around the county. It was approved unanimously.
The second request was for $10,000 to resurface the clay pulling track at the county fairgrounds. Over time the track has become worn down and is not holding its shape during pulls and allowing water to puddle. The plan is to build it up by about 12 inches with 740 yards of red clay and shape it to allow better drainage.
Bub questioned if this would prevent concerts or other events being held in the grandstands. Fair board president Tim Hobl appeared by phone and said they it would not impact other events held in the grandstand, but would improve the overall fairgrounds Thums questioned if the fair was putting any money toward the project. Supervisor Cathy Lemke, who serves as the county board representative on the fair board noted the fair puts about $1,500 each year into maintenance of the pulling track and that it is owned by the county and is on county land. “It is a large expense each year,” Lemke said.
“Something has to be done,” Lemke said, noting they are getting feedback from drivers who are unwilling to compete here because of the track conditions.
The request was approved unanimously.
In other business, supervisors:
_ Approved declaring May 2020 to be “Older Americans Month.” Lewis jokingly noted that judging by the ages of the people in the room, there could be a conflict since almost all of them would be considered to be “older Americans.”
_ Approved designating the Taylor County Housing Authority to serve as the citizen participation committee for a community development block grant request by a group seeking to open a homeless shelter in the county.
_ Approved formally authorizing participation in the Department of Natural Resources dam grant program and naming the county forest administrator as able to act on behalf of the county in submitting the application, completing the project, and submitting claims. This is a routine action to have on file with the state.