The “Reduce the Size of the County Board” syndrome is back again after a short hiatus. This time it is apparently driven by a constituent of Cedarburg Supervisor Kathie Geracie who is allegedly threatening a referendum campaign to reduce the Board from 31 to 7. What a disaster that plan would be for the residents of Ozaukee County.
Instead of 31 community minded part-time supervisors, we’d end up with 7 full-timers. Some may think that will improve efficiency but one need only to observe that a dictatorship is probaby the most efficient form of government. Believe me in a democracy there is safety in numbers. Democracy is basically a messy process, but one that works when it involves a willingness of the people to participate in their own government to a maximum extent.
Let's examine the downside of reducing the county board. Obviously 7 supervisors could not handle the workload of the current 31 unless they were full-time, with a full-time staff complete with offices for all.
So costs for the county board would rise from the current modest $148,500/year to closer to $2 million/year when one factors in full-time supervisors' and their staffs’ salaries plus benefit packages accorded to all full-time county employees, including health and state retirement benefits as well as office expenses.
But these substantial extra costs to Ozaukee County taxpayers is not the worst of it. Who would run for this office? Not the same credentialed people we have today – many of whom work full-time as leaders in their respective fields such as: Chairman Rob Brooks, Brooks Investment Group; Vice-Chair Mark Cronce, VP, Wisconsin Physicians Service; Joe Dean, IBM Strategic Partner Executive Group; Dan Becker, VP, X-Cel Tooling; Joe Sopko, PhD - Director of Engineering, Ground Freezing Inc.; Dan Herlache, Lieutenant - Glendale Police Dept.; Dave Berousek, Chief - North Shore Fire Department and several others. You guessed it — we’d attract the want-to-be professional politicians who see the county board as an opportunity to feed full-time at the public trough and as a place to launch their political careers.
It could get even worse! We need look no further than the Milwaukee governing entities and the Wisconsin State Legislature to see the caucus, pension, bribery and sick-time schemes, with subsequent indictments and convictions, emanating from those bodies. You can bet that sooner or later we’d see the same mischief-making from a full-time Ozaukee County Board.
I conclude that the present 31 part-time supervisors more closely resemble what our Founding Fathers had in mind to represent us rather than the full-time professional politicians who crowd the halls of Washington, D.C., the corridors of Madison and the passageways of Milwaukee. What we have now in Ozaukee County are excellent county services provided within a county property tax rate that is the lowest in Wisconsin – which can be summarized – “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”