Janesville36.8°

Council to consider committee changes

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
May 10, 2008
— Janesville’s committees and commissions are getting overhauls.

The city council on Monday will consider disbanding the public works committee and reducing council representation on the plan commission to one council member. Now, two council members serve on the commission.


The plan commission makes decisions on conditional-use permits without council approval. It was the plan commission, for example, that presided over the controversy when Wal-Mart proposed building its new Supercenter.


Most other communities of Janesville’s size have only one council member serving on the plan commission, according to a staff memo. Janesville’s plan commission has the largest percentage of council membership—about 28 percent compared to a range of 11 to 22 percent, depending on the size of the commissions.


Having more residents on boards increases resident involvement and frees up council member time, according to the memo.


As a disadvantage, fewer council members can decrease communication between council and committee members.


Staff also have recommended disbanding the public works committee and giving those duties to the city engineer.


No comparable cities have a committee similar to Janesville’s public works committee, which is made up of council members.


The committee pre-qualifies contractors, receives bids and makes recommendations to the full council on awarding contracts. The council duplicates the work of the committee, according to the memo.


The changes can be made only by changing the city’s charter ordinances, which set the city’s structure and operation.


Last month, the council also disbanded two committees and changed the representation on others, leaving 14 committees.


Six, including the plan commission, are made up of residents and council members. Seven include no council members.


The council last month:


-- Disbanded the ice skating advisory and parkland acquisition committees. It added a representative of the ice skating community to the leisure services advisory committee and removed the non-voting golf representative.


-- Replaced the council representative on the golf course advisory committee with a resident.


-- Replaced one of two council representatives on the alcohol license advisory committee with a resident.


-- Replaced two council representatives on the transportation committee with residents. And either a resident or council member can now chair those meetings. Previously, the chairmanship was reserved for a council member. The committee continues to include one council member.


The composition of the above committees is determined by council policy rather than charter ordinance.


State statutes determine the makeup of the community development authority, library board of trustees, police and fire commission and the zoning board of appeals.



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