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Comments support keeping same size board

A Marathon County Board Size Task Force on Thursday was mostly told to keep the county board’s 38 members, not to chop the board to either 32 or 27 members.

In public comment, eight people, including county board members, testified. Six supported the current 38 member board, the largest in the nation, while two citizens supported a 27-member board.

_ Jim Schaefer, Wausau, a 24 year veteran of the county board, said he thought a 27 or 32 member board would be “more efficient,” although he thought current committees were stronger than they have been in the past.

_ Supervisor Al Opall, Rib Mountain, said the current board permitted greater diversity, including rural residents who have different issues than urban residents.

_ John Graveen, village of Maine, said he preferred the current, 38-member board because the county’s rural residents need proper representation.

_ Supervisor Jean Maszk, Mosinee, said she saw no reason to downsize the board and has heard that county boards who recently have reduced their members now regret it.

_ Supervisor Tom Seubert, town of Day, opposed cutting the county board size, saying that some rural county districts are already 150 square miles large. He said he has received many calls from people opposed to lowering the county board size.

_ E.J. Stark, Rothschild, said he supported staying with the current county board size. He said none of the constituents he has talked to support downsizing the board.

_ Thomas Mullaley, village of Maine, said the idea of lowering the board size was “ridiculous” and that rural Marathon County did not need to lose its voice on the county board.

_ Matt Hildebrant, Kronenwetter, a former supervisor, said a 27-member county board would “strongly modernize” the board and make it more efficient.

Task force chairman John Robinson, Wausau, said Marathon County, following a New York model of county boards, started with a large board of 72 members. Following passage of a state law in 1965, the board size was reduced to 39 and, eventually, 38. Currently, each county supervisor represents 3,600 people.

Robinson said current salaries (with Social Security) of the county board total $258,647. A 32-member board would only require $223,181 in salaries, he said, and a 27-member board $192,980.