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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Marinette County Board To Air Possible Size Referendum

Issue Date: February 20, 2020

Discussion at the Marinette County Board's regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25 will include the possibility of an advisory referendum related to redistricting the county in 2022, after the 2020 census.

A public hearing on county UDAG funding for improvements in the City of Niagara that had been scheduled for 9:05 a.m. on Feb. 25 has been postponed until the board meeting on Tuesday, March 31.

There will be only two more meetings for County Board Chair Mark Anderson, since he did not seek re-election and will no longer be on the board after his term ends in April. However, as a veteran of many years as a County Supervisor and County Board Chair, Anderson had some ideas for rule changes that he feels the county should pursue.

Traditionally, the outgoing board recommends rule changes to be adopted by the incoming board at its reorganizational meeting after new supervisors are seated in April. Some of those changes were discussed at an Executive Committee meeting on Friday, Feb. 14, and Anderson said he was including a wide ranging discussion on County Board changes on the agenda for the Feb. 25 meeting. Anything decided would come back for formal action in March, to be passed along for adoption by the new board.

Anderson suggested reducing size of the board from its current 30 members to perhaps 15, and favored having a county-wide referendum before taking this step. He also suggested having only quarterly committee meetings, but two meetings of the full board each month, so there would be a more fully educated county Board, and all supervisors would have a real voice in each decision. "You would learn a lot more, know a lot more and have a lot more input," Anderson declared.

Vice Chair Robert Holley agreed being better informed would be an improvement.

How many times do you get a call from a constituent about a committee meeting you didn't attend?" he asked, and added, "Sometimes it's embarrassing."

Supervisor John Guarisco was hesitant about some of the changes, particularly reducing size of the board, in view of the size of the county. He said he had about having supervisors compensated for attending whatever committee meetings they felt necessary. He agreed that currently, "For all the issues that run through County Board, maybe Supervisors know what is happening and maybe they don't."

Anderson's suggestion was that committees would do the nuts and bolts things, like review expenses, hear reports, etc., but the full board would have jurisdictions over actions. He noted there due to the number of supervisors not seeking re-election, seven of the 30 Supervisors will be new after April, and won't know anything when they start.

Supervisor Al Mans agreed it takes a couple of years for even a new committee member to become familiar with what things are being done, and why. He said right now, six supervisors make pretty much all decisions, referring to the six members of each committee. The rest of the board generally just votes to approve what they recommend. He could recall only twice in recent years that committee recommendations got voted down.

Supervisor Ted Sauve suggested having meetings later in the day might make it possible for more people to attend board meetings, and for more to run for supervisor positions.

County Administrator John LeFebvre said that had been tried before, and meetings were held at various locations in the county, and only about five members of the public ever showed up.

Supervisor Don Pazynski agreed, and said this is a big county, and it is much safer to drive during daylight hours.

Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison noted employees often are needed at County Board meetings, so it is better to hold them during business hours.

More discusion on these and other issues is expected on Feb. 25.

The board is expected to approve establishing a revolving rehabilitation fund for acquisition and rehabilitation of "housing stock" in the county, with upgrades of county acquired houses to be handled through a contract with NEWCAP.

Supervisors also will vote on creating a Development/Tourism division under LeFebvre's oversight in the Department of Administration, with two new positions, one as a Director of Development and Tourism, and the other a program assistant for that position. That would involve rescinding a directive approved last month to create a separate internal Tourism Director position.


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