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Supervisor drops proposal to limit county board leadership terms

April 16, 2017 GMT

A supervisor who proposed term limits for Sauk County Board leadership positions says he won’t push for the change when the board reconsiders its rules Tuesday night.

But Supervisor Andy Andrews of Baraboo said that doesn’t mean the issue of term limits in general has been placed on the back burner.

Andrews proposed a rule change that would limit the number of consecutive terms a supervisor can serve as the board’s chair, vice chair, or as a member of its Executive and Legislative Committee.

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The Executive and Legislative Committee declined to put its stamp of approval on Andrews’ suggested rule change after the county’s attorney, Todd Liebman, opined earlier this month that term limits on board chair and vice chair are not permissible. Liebman based his ruling on a 1972 Wisconsin attorney general opinion that said “one board cannot act in such a way as to tie the hands of a future board.”

Andrews said Sunday that he later followed up with Liebman in an effort to find a legal way to enact his proposal, but was told that state statutes would not permit it either.

Documents show that other Wisconsin counties have enacted or considered term limits for board leadership positions.

In July 2013, the Walworth County Board unanimously passed a resolution that placed term limits on its chairperson. The county’s attorney, David Bretl, signed off on the resolution. The rule was short-lived, however, as the board voted in March 2015 to eliminate term limits.

In a January 2016 legal opinion, Green Lake County Attorney Dawn Klockow ruled that county boards may impose term limits for committee members. Klockow, who declined a request for comment, wrote that “the statutes are silent on term limits for members of county board committees,” and that “term limits are not prohibited by Robert’s Rules of Order.”

Her legal opinion also cited a July 2015 resolution considered by the Washington County Board that would have enacted term limits for its chairperson. That resolution was defeated by a 16-11 vote.

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Despite those examples, Andrews said he agrees with Liebman’s ruling that term limits on leadership positions are not permissible. However, after further consultation with the county’s attorney, Andrews said, he believes that placing limitations on the consecutive number of terms that any citizen can serve as a supervisor may be allowed.

He may propose that change to a special committee that has been formed to study the board’s size, structure and pay.

“There seems to be less support for revolving leadership than for term limits in general,” Andrews said. “After speaking with some supervisors, they don’t agree with term limits on duties, but on representation.”

Andrews said his initial proposal was not personal, but rather was intended to promote “new ideas, new experience, and new people” in leadership positions on the board. The board’s current chair, Marty Krueger of Reedsburg, has held the position since 2006.

The Executive and Legislative Committee did not recommend any of the rule changes that supervisors proposed earlier this month. But the full board still has the opportunity to consider any of the proposed changes during its meeting Tuesday night.

Appointment considered

The board also will consider Krueger’s appointment of Andrea Lombard of Baraboo to fill the District 19 supervisor’s seat left vacant by the resignation of Doug Ament.

Lombard – a retired teacher and former Republican Party of Sauk County chair – previously held the seat until she was narrowly defeated by Ament in the April 2016 election.

After he selected his appointee, Krueger identified the other Baraboo resident who had applied for the position as John Young, a Vietnam veteran and former electrician who now runs a local art studio. Young also draws political cartoons for the Baraboo News Republic.

Other business

The board’s agenda also includes possible action on the following items:

Amending tower lease agreements with Bug Tussel Wireless to allow for three additional installations on county communication towers and resulting in additional $300 a month to the county.Authorizing the $22,210 purchase of a 2017 Dodge Ram from Ewald Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of Oconomowoc for the county’s Conservation, Planning and Zoning Department.Approving the town of Merrimac’s proposed rezoning of property from agricultural to commercial and recreational use.Extending the work period of a special committee appointed to study and make recommendations on board structure, size, and pay to October 2017.Carrying forward $3 million in funds that were assigned but not spent during the 2016 budget into 2017.Authorizing the closure of the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo on May 5 from 8 a.m. to noon, and the Sauk County Human Services Building in Reedsburg on May 12 from 8 a.m. to noon, for emergency preparedness drills.Authorizing a $27,000 contract with Ex-Cell Building Restoration to complete tuckpointing and repairs on the north side of the courthouse.