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Council rejects call for city administrator

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By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — Members of the Wausau City Council on Tuesday approved the city’s 2018 budget, but did not approve a request by council member Romey Wagner to hire a city administrator.

Wagner told his fellow council members on Tuesday an administrator would help Mayor Rob Mielke transform from a “good” mayor to a “great” one. But Council President Lisa Rasmussen responded by saying she believes Mielke is already the mayor the city needs.

Wagner first renewed calls for a city administrator during an Oct. 24 meeting of the finance committee, when he announced his plans to ask the council to consider adding $100,000 to the budget for a city administrator to add to Mielke’s staff. Wagner said the money would be a good investment in the city, giving Mielke another advisor who would work with department heads.

In a Nov. 10 email to Wausau Pilot and Review, Wagner stated, “I will propose a $100,00.00 addition with about $30,000.00 being used to identify the job tasks and responsibilities and do the search nation wide and up to $70.000.00 for salary and benefits for the person to be found and put in place by June 1, 2018.  This money would add to the tax .04 per thousand and be the best reason to raise taxes in my opinion because that person would be educated in municipality administration and reel in some of the unwise extra expenses to help reduce our taxes in the future.

“On the day of the referendum 48 percent of the voters said they approved the administrator position and I believe I am speaking for them, “Wagner wrote.

But on Wednesday, council member Pat Peckham said the administrator discussion took him by surprise. The administrator issue was not a matter listed on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.

Romey had only mentioned it at committee meeting before trotting it out and asking the council to embrace an idea that only five people outside of City Hall saw coming,” Peckham wrote in a public Facebook post.

Still, Peckham wrote, the idea is worth considering if the timing was right, but noted it would not be fair to the public to approve the idea with such little notice.

In April 2015, voters in a non-binding referendum selected mayoral government on a 52 to 48 percent split, making an administrator an unlikely choice at the time. But such a plan would not need to go to referendum, since the move would add a staff member rather than replace an elected position.

 

5 Comments

  1. Maybe if the mayor and city council were COMPETENT, there would be no talk about a city administrator. Furthermore, who hires the administrator? I assume the city council? Well isn’t that nice. So who then actually runs the city, the elected mayor or the appointed administrator? WHO then is held responsible for decisions? An elected official or an appointed hack?
    My open question to ANY city council member is this: What are you trying to accomplish by having a city administrator and what exactly would the purpose of the mayor be?
    Lasty….Romey Wagner, step away from the bottle. You need $30k to “identify job tasks, etc”??? You don’t already know WHAT EXACTLY a city administrator should do (but you’re VERY much in favor of one), yet you’re proposing spending $30k of taxpayer funds to “find out”? And like we need another city hired hack to make $70k a year. Good God, this is freaking insane.

  2. City Council will spend tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money for corporate welfare to pay companies to move from the east end waterfront. Millions more of Wausau taxpayer money to re-do Thomas Street to make it nothing more than a throughway for people to get out to Rib Mountain to shop, with Wausau getting NO benefit whatsoever out of it since Rib Mountain is not part of Wausau.

    Yet, Council won’t spend $100,000 to hire a CAO? Really??

    A CAO would bring Wausau’s city government into the 21st century using business acumen not evidently possessed by all on Council, to manage the operational aspect of the staff, bringing much-needed awareness of the obligation of City staff to be judicius in spending taxpayer money, as well as bringing focus, discipline and – most importantly – accountability to the staff and processes of the City’s government.

    Wausau taxpayers deserve nothing less. What is Council afraid of?

    • Whatfreakingever, Max. Tell us simple-minded voters just what in the hell the job of the MAYOR is?
      In this fools opinion, you expertly gave the mayor’s job description. But wait, the city of Wausau needs to be “progressive” and spend another $100k………$30k of which to “study” what a city administrator would do! Yeah……!!DRAWROF
      Wausau taxpayers deserve a hell of a lot more than another appointed empty suit (or suit pants) making upwards of $100k per year. Maybe YOU should donate to the job description research plan and salary, Max. After all, it sure would be the progressive thing to do!

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