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Committee restructuring part of downsizing puzzle

Board of 25 preparing for board of 11

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published May 10, 2007, 3:53 p.m.)

Putting the Walworth County Board downsizing puzzle together continues.

Lately, Walworth County Administrator David Bretl has been analyzing the pieces that make up the county committee assignments.

The county has six main committees made up entirely of county board supervisors and a number of other committees that have a combination of supervisors, citizens and or other county employees or experts.

The trick is figuring out how to make up the committees next April when the board is reduced from 25 to 11 supervisors.

"How big do you want the committees to be," Bretl rhetorically asked the executive committee earlier. "You'll be constrained in that. You don't want a quorum of the county board on a committee. It would have to be five or fewer. If you get too small then it becomes a totally different dynamic."

The other problem is scheduling and keeping supervisors as part-time representatives, Bretl said.

"I would probably envision blocks of time when you're here," he said. "Maybe you have a particular track of committees meet consecutively. We've already started to do that a little better."

Bretl didn't see the number of committees reducing any.

Another trick is dividing committee participation and workloads evenly among supervisors. Some committees, such as the finance committee and county zoning agency have more monthly work to do than the Lakeland Healthcare Center Board of Trustees, for instance, Bretl said.

The board of 25 is responsible for making preparations for the 11-member board, Bretl said. The new board's first order of business is to assign supervisors to committees.

"We have an obligation to the citizens to have as much of a seamless transition as we can," said executive committee Chairman David Weber, who was against the downsizing. "We can't be accused of not doing our job."

Another part of the committee structuring will be structuring the salary of the supervisors. That determination will be up to the board, Bretl said.

Supervisors make $500 per month now. The board chair receives $1,000 month. Supervisors also get paid mileage to meetings. They are not offered any insurance benefits unless they pay for them.

Supervisor Larry Hilbelink has come forward with a proposal already.

He asked that incoming supervisors make full-time salaries of $30,000 per year and the chair be paid $45,000. He also wants full benefits, health insurance and retirement, according to a letter to county board Chairwoman Ann Lohrmann.

The ability to do the job of a county supervisor on a part-time basis with 11 supervisors was an area of contention between those for and against the downsizing.

Downsizing supporters felt incoming supervisors wouldn't require any more of a salary.

Those against the downsizing say new supervisors will require a larger salary.

"The job description could be full-time or three-quarter time," said Supervisor Margaret Downing. "I don't see it as 10 to 15 hours a week, to do it correctly, anyway."




County Committees


- The following six committees are made up of supervisors only


Children with Disabilities Education Board*

Membership: 7

Duties: Oversight of the county's special education programming, including Lakeland School.


Executive Committee

Membership: 5

Duties: Oversees county board organization, rules and public safety. Reviews county administrator's performance.


Finance Committee

Membership: 7

Duties: Makes recommendations on budget issues and fund balances.


Human Resources

Membership: 5

Duties: Reviews labor relations and bargaining issues and matters related to wages, benefits, hours and employment conditions.


Public Works*

Membership: 5

Duties: Oversees use, construction and maintenance of county buildings and county roads.


Committee of the Whole

Membership: 25 supervisors

Duties: Considers matters of county-wide interest, but takes no final action on matters




- The following committees are made up of supervisors, citizens, county staff, experts or a combination of all four.


Agriculture and Extension Education Committee*

Membership: 5 supervisors,** 2 citizens

Duties: Advises county board on all resolutions concerning agriculture and the UW-Extension office.


Board of Adjustment

Membership: 3 citizen members, no supervisors

Duties: Hears appeals and grants variances related to the county zoning codes.


Civil Service Board*

Membership: 5 citizen members, no supervisors

Duties: Monitors fair hiring practices by the sheriff's department.


Commission on Aging*

Membership: 1 supervisor, 4 citizen members of the health and human services board

Duties: Oversees senior services offered in the county.


Community Action Committee

Membership: 2 citizens

Duties: County board appointments to the board for Community Action Inc., a community-based, non-profit support group.


County Zoning Agency

Membership: 5 supervisors, 2 citizens

Duties: Exercises planning and zoning powers in accordance to state statutes.


Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee

Membership: 1 supervisor, chief circuit court judge, jail administrator, health and human services director, public defender, probation and parole agent, a county police chief, district attorney, higher education representative (as non-voting member).

Duties: Advises executive committee on criminal justice matters


Emergency Planning Committee*

Membership: 17 total. Includes county board chair. Other membership includes members of law enforcement, state and county government, emergency medical technicians, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, public health officials, fire officials, local media, industry leaders and more.

Duties: Develops and coordinates emergency action plan in case of natural or man-made disasters.


Health and Human Services Board*

Membership: (5 supervisors, 4 citizens)

Duties: Oversees operating procedures and budget of the health and human services department.


Lakeland Health Care Center Board of Trustees

Membership: 7 supervisors, 2 citizens

Duties: Policy development and oversight of activities at Lakeland Health Care Center.


Land Conservation Committee*

Membership: 5 supervisors,** 2 citizens

Duties: Oversees countywide land use planning issues.


Park Committee*

Membership: 5 supervisors,** 2 citizens

Duties: Develops policy concerning county parks and recreation issues.


River Rail Transit

Membership: at least 1 supervisor, 1 or 2 citizens (3 members total)

Duties: Part of southern Wisconsin collaborative effort to preserve regional rail transit systems.


Solid Waste Management Committee

Membership: 5 public works supervisors, 4 citizens

Duties: Implement policies and programs to manage solid waste and hazardous waste in a manner to protect public health and the environment.


Traffic Safety Commission*

Membership: 8 experts, no supervisors. Includes state highway engineer, county highway commissioner, state traffic patrol member, sheriff, state highway safety coordinator, county board-appointed experts in the fields of education, medicine and law.

Duties: Reviews all traffic safety issues and concerns on county roads and recommend appropriate changes.


Veterans Service Commission*

Membership: 3 citizens

Duties: Monitor veterans assistance with food vouchers.


911 Governing Board

Membership: 1 supervisor, 6 law enforcement professionals

Duties: Monitors and updates 911 systems in Walworth County.


Lake improvement associations

Membership: Each of the nine lake improvement associations has one county board supervisor.

Duties: Monitor and maintain a clean and healthy lake.


(* Mandated by state statutes. CDEB and Lakeland Health Care Center Board of Trustees are mandated because the county offers those non-mandated services.)

(** Same 5 supervisors)


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