Eau Claire County Board eyes downsizing
Voters in Chippewa County spoke Tuesday, and supervisors in Eau Claire County apparently listened. In the fall general election, voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum decreasing the number of supervisors on the Chippewa County Board from 29...
Voters in Chippewa County spoke Tuesday, and supervisors in Eau Claire County apparently listened.
In the fall general election, voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum decreasing the number of supervisors on the Chippewa County Board from 29 to 15.
On Wednesday, five members of Eau Claire County's Administration Committee approved a motion recommending the number of county supervisors drop from 29 to 21. The committee's recommendation goes to the County Board for action Dec. 7.
"I'd rather have us take it in our own hands" rather than wait for residents to bring the issue forward through a referendum, Supervisor Roger "Jody" Hahn said.
In Chippewa County, town of Lafayette resident Don Sperber circulated a petition to reduce the size of the board and collected enough signatures to put the question on Tuesday's ballot.
The binding referendum was approved by a vote of 14,423 to 5,243, making Chippewa County the 13th county statewide to reduce the size of its board since 2006.
In Eau Claire County, the 29-member board rejected a proposal in December 1999 to reduce its size by four supervisors. The issue surfaced again this year with the board facing reapportionment -- the redrawing of supervisory district lines in accordance with 2010 census results.
During Wednesday's committee meeting, Supervisor Bruce Willett proposed trimming the Eau Claire County Board from 29 to 23 members, but that proposal was rejected 4-1, with Supervisors Colleen Bates, Kathy Clark, Hahn and Gregg Moore voting against it.
"I'm OK with 23, but I'm not sure the public will be," Clark said.
Hahn agreed and said he believed constituents -- who showed during elections Tuesday they want smaller government -- would want to see more of a reduction.
"We'd have (fewer) people to look for," said Bates, explaining that not all the board's 29 seats attract contests or even candidates in every election.
She stressed it is important to keep the board large enough to complete necessary work.
Clark proposed reducing the number of supervisors from 29 to 21. Chippewa County might be larger than Eau Claire County geographically, but it's population is smaller, she said.
The motion passed unanimously. If the full board approves the recommendation, the change would be effective starting with the April 2012 general election.
Copyright (c) 2010, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis., Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.