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Ordinance passed setting times for standing committees

By Heather Graves

BROWN COUNTY – In a close 14-11 vote (with one absence), the county board voted Wednesday, July 17, to adopt an ordinance that sets standard days and times for all standing committee meetings.

The ordinance requires all regular meetings of the county’s six standing committees (Administration, Education and Recreation, Executive, Human Services, Planning, Development and Transportation and Public Safety) to occur on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m.

This isn’t the first time this issue has been brought forward by concerned supervisors.

“I was the supervisor that brought this up as a complaint, brought it to the attention of the board and requested that a resolution to be passed,” said District 18 Supervisor Aaron Linssen. “I was unable to partake in an entire committee, I was unable to attend a single committee and when I raised that issue to committee members and chair I was pretty much told tough luck.”

A resolution on this issue was passed by the board in July 2018 in a 19-7 vote.

“It was passed by this board in resolution and the committee chair just ignored the resolution,” Linssen said. “The resolution was the opinion of this board – and the committee chairman just thumbed their nose at it. That is the reason it is here in ordinance form.”

Other supervisors had similar thoughts.

“This board did set aside the times in which we want our standing committees to meet,” said District 5 Supervisor Staush Gruszynski. “We passed that in resolution – this is something we have put out to the public already. It’s important because we have already done this as a board. All this does it codify it. I don’t think we should get lost in this. It’s going to make it a little more transparent, which I think is always good in the work we do here in Brown County.”

Gruszynski wasn’t alone in his thoughts.

“I’m asking that we follow the rules, and play by the rules that we set,” said District 8 Supervisor Megan Borchardt. “I know people who would like to come but they aren’t going to take off work early to come to certain meetings. That is asking a lot of the public and I don’t think that it is right. And we are here to serve the citizens of Brown County and I won’t stand for anything less.”

Those supervisors against the ordinance said it ties their hands and the hands of future boards.

“It’s unfortunate that we are going to try and tie our hands down because of a few people,” said District 11 Supervisor Patrick Buckley. “By saying you will only operate within this time period, to me, I think we are being very restrictive on who can participate on the county board. It unfortunate that we’ve got this far.”

Buckley isn’t the only supervisor who feels this way.

“You heard a supervisor say ‘I’m gonna stand my ground because I’m for all the people’ – but you’re not then,” said District 2 Supervisor Thomas DeWane. “There are multiple people that have opportunities to come during the day. So I believe whole-heartedly it should be up to chairmen.”

Supervisors in support of the ordinance don’t agree it would limit the board.

“This isn’t about handcuffing future boards,” Linssen said. “Its about actually making sure that this board follows its own votes. To sit here and change the history of this and change the reasons why it was passed is ridiculous. It’s only here in ordinance form because it’s being ignored in resolution form.”

This new ordinance will not affect tours prior to meetings or extended hours for budget committee meetings.

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