Referendum on County Board Size to be on April 3 Ballots
Voters in many communities will be able to vote on a referendum asking if the board should be cut from 18 to nine members, and to make being a supervisor a part-time position.
Residents of about a dozen Milwaukee County municipalities will be able to vote April 3 on a referendum gathering input about downsizing the Milwaukee County Board.
A handful of Milwaukee County supervisors last year recommended an advisory referendum be held, asking to reduce the number of supervisors from 18 to nine and to make the position part-time rather than full-time.
The referendum will pose two questions to the voting public:
- Do you support compensating the position of Milwaukee County supervisor at a level that reflects the position being considered part-time in nature?
- Shall the size of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors be reduced from its current number of 18 supervisors to nine supervisors?
This isn't the first time these measures have been discussed. At one point there were 25 supervisors; then it was cut to 19. Soon, the board will have 18 supervisors.
Suburban communities wanted to be sure their voices were heard on the board reduction proposal, and many communities decided to put the advisory referendum on their ballots after a November meeting of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council. At that meeting, members also noted trouble with the County Board's redistricting plan and approach to the county's paramedic program.
Among the communities where the referendum will be on the ballot are: Bayside, Fox Point, Greendale, Greenfield, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay.
Nichols wrote, “County boards are kind of like stomachs, though. Once they've been big, they can be hard to keep small.”
There are some Wisconsin counties that still have boards ranging in the 30s, such as Washington County, Marathon County, Dane County and Sauk. Waukesha and Ozaukee are at 25 or 26; Racine County is at 23.
Some citizen efforts to reduce county boards have been successful in the past. Recently, residents forced Chippewa County Board to downsize from 29 to 15. In 2006, voters also forced the Fond du Lac County board from 36 to 18.
In December 2011 Joe Sanfelippo, the 17th District Milwaukee County supervisor, told the Greendale Village Board: “Put the referendum out there and allow the public to voice their opinion and hopefully that will put some pressure on the board to do some reform."