Vilas County Board Chairman Steve Favorite is proposing some big changes for when and how often the county board of supervisors meets.
At the December meeting of the county legislative and judicial committee it was revealed Favorite is pushing for the county board’s standing rules be changed to require the board meet 11 times a year instead of the current requirement of eight times per year. He also wants four of the 11 monthly meetings to be conducted at night. Currently all county board meetings start at 9 a.m.
Favorite said he believes the changes will allow the board to work more efficiently and to have better communications among supervisors and constituents.
“Right now because we are only required to meet eight times a year there are too many [about half] resolutions that are coming in at the last minute and are being placed on the board’s agenda,” Favorite said. “That means some supervisors only have a day or two at the most to review all of the board’s materials for that meeting,” Favorite said.
“That’s just not enough time to thoughtfully consider some of the proposals that are presented to the board.”
Favorite also said because the board is now only required to meet eight times a year some items can’t be acted on quickly enough by supervisors. Sometimes the board doesn’t meet for two months.
“If we met more, then we would have far fewer late resolutions being submitted,” Favorite said. “All of the board members would have more time to review the resolutions and become more familiar with them.”
According to Favorite, if his proposal gains final board approval the board could meet every month, except December.
“We could take December off ... and be able to work much more efficiently,” Favorite said. “This all in turn could coincide with our effort to streamline the number of committees we have.”
The board has 22 committees, but proposals to narrow the number of committees to eight have met with resistance.
“We could maybe work first on combining some of the less important committees that have far less work,” Favorite said. “I think it would be easy for us to reduce the number of committees to 15 with very few problems and very little resistance.”
Four night meetings a year
While Favorite said he feels his proposal to conduct 11 meetings a year instead of just eight should gain final approval he feels his night meeting proposal may face more resistance from county supervisors.
“I mean no insult, but a lot of the makeup of the board is older and they might be a little too comfortable in meeting always during the day,” Favorite said. “I think by holding some night meetings we might encourage more people to possibly run for county board and it will be easier for those who want to see how the board operates to make night meetings.”
Favorite said having more night meetings may encourage more “working people” to run for the board.
“I’ve been approached by some people who said they can’t run for the board because all of the meetings are during the day and they have to be at work during the day,” Favorite said. “They said if the board were to meet at night more often it might allow them to run for office.”
Favorite also said by holding more night meetings more of the public will be able to attend and be better informed on what the board is doing.
“I know there will be a little of an uphill battle for this to happen,” Favorite said. “Again because I think some supervisors are a little too comfortable with all day meetings. The towns, the school boards, they all meet at night so I don’t see why the county board can’t do the same.”
Favorite said more discussion will have to be held on his proposals by the legislative and judicial committee before the ideas can be presented to the full county board for a vote.
Favorite agreed there might be more additional expense by holding more county board meetings during the year, but this year the board has held several special board meetings in order to act on issues so there probably will be very little increase in costs.
“And if we can reduce the number of standing committees we could be spending a lot less,” Favorite said.
Favorite said his proposals and the reduction of the number of county committees will go a long way toward making county government more efficient and saving the county money.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at email@example.com.