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Things you should know before running for a county board seat

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Mike Heine
November 8, 2007
— The county board is shrinking from 25 members to 11, and the shrinkage is likely to make competition for board seats tougher than ever.

So before taking a run at the Walworth County Board, you might want to learn more about becoming a supervisor.


Walworth County Board Chairwoman Nancy Russell and County Administrator David Bretl gave a seminar Tuesday explaining what’s involved. Another free seminar is set for 6 p.m. today in Room 111 of the Walworth County Government Center, 100 W. Walworth St., Elkhorn.


Here’s the rundown of the duties and responsibilities supervisors will have next term:


Overview

The job of a supervisor is to figure out “what to do.” County staff figures out “how best to do it,” Bretl said.


Most county board work is done in committees, which meet at least once a month after the full county board meeting.


Committees

Executive—Five supervisors. Deals with all board issues, including organization, rules, pay, removal of supervisors and filling vacant seats. Also reviews county administrator’s performance and provides oversight to economic development, public safety and county legal issues.


Finance—Five supervisors. Monitors all issues affecting county budget.


Human resources—Five supervisors. Oversees collective bargaining agreements and labor matters and benefits for county employees.


Public works—Five supervisors. Monitors county facilities and road projects. Approves plans and specifications and awards bids for building projects.


Agriculture and extension education—Three supervisors, two residents. Makes recommendations regarding agriculture and UW Extension education. Evaluates extension programming, including 4-H.


Land conservation—Three supervisors, two residents. Makes recommendations concerning land use planning.


County zoning agency—Five supervisors, two residents. Responsible for planning and zoning.


Park—Three supervisors, two residents. Determines outlines and principles concerning parks and recreation.


Children with disabilities education board—Five supervisors. Oversees county special education programs, policies and services.


Health and human services board—Five supervisors, four residents. Oversees health and human services programs. Serves as trustees of Lakeland Health Care Center.


Nominating committee—County board chair, vice chair and executive committee chair. Reviews supervisor committee preferences and makes recommendations for committee assignments.


What it takes

With 11 supervisors running the show after the April election, each members will be on three or four committees.


Other work might include membership on the countywide Smart Growth Technical Advisory Committee, the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission and local lake districts.


Supervisors also are expected to maintain contact with municipal boards, attend groundbreakings and grand openings and participate in training and seminars.


Preparing for and attending meetings could take an average of 47 hours a month.


Supervisors must attend all committee assignments unless excused. Missing consecutive monthly board meetings or three consecutive committee assignments can result in removal.



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