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County considers urging state to lend support to UWS

Douglas County is considering lending its support to buildings and grounds workers at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Unlike the Superior City Council, the board isn’t urging campus administration to reject proposals that could replace the university workers’ jobs with a private contractor providing the service. Instead, the board is urging the governor and Legislature to support its public campuses with adequate funding, thereby ensuring that employees of the university are not negatively impacted and students continue to receive an affordable, high-quality education at the campus that is home to environmental and transportation research centers.

It’s a different approach than the City Council took, said Douglas County Board Chairman Doug Finn.

In early July, the council adopted a resolution urging campus administration to reject any and all proposals to privatize campus functions such as buildings and grounds.

After years of cuts in funding for the university system, additional funding cuts, declining enrollment and a tuition freeze implemented by the state Legislature left UWS trying to close the gap on $4.5 million over the next five years.

“My position is we need to speak up and say ‘Legislature and governor, provide adequate funding for the university — and technical college — so that UWS can survive,’” Finn said.

“I do feel personally that it should be stronger,” said Supervisor Nick Baker. “I do like a stronger position because sometimes these people don’t listen to you.”

Despite the resolution being in draft form, Douglas County’s Executive Committee approved the concept of the resolution.

The final version of the resolution will be presented to the full county board for consideration.