Our View: Sometimes people know what's best
Sometimes citizens have a good vision of how government should operate. That was the case last November when voters overwhelmingly approved a reduction in the number of supervisors on the St. Croix County Board.
County officials are currently working hard to redistrict the county. Voters approved reducing the size of the board from 31 members to 19 members by a 31,460 to 9,358 margin.
There are still people in county government who probably oppose this change. In reality, the County Board itself probably should have seriously looked at reducing the board. Whenever the subject came up over the past couple of decades, many board members listed all the reasons why the change could never work. If the board had tackled the issue itself, it could have named a number that probably would have been higher than 19 and people would have accepted the change as a sign of progress.
For some reason, however, most board members refused to address the subject and always found reasons to keep the board size at 31. The voters, however, had different ideas. They saw reasons why they thought the board was too big. The voters saw the large size as inefficient; voters saw the fact that most County Board members ran unopposed in elections every two years; they saw Minnesota counties running with as few as five board members; they saw -- right or wrong -- many supervisors who appeared to be more interested in preserving their jobs than serving the public.
When the law changed on Jan. 20, 2006, it didn't take long for the public to gather enough names on a petition to put the board size question on the ballot in 2008.
In reality, the operation of St. Croix County over the years has not been bad. The county has always done a pretty good job of keeping expenses in line -- that in the face of many state mandates. But, we don't expect that to change, regardless of the size of the board.
Voters had it in their minds that the operation of the county could be done more efficiently, and maybe less expensively, with a 19-member board. Other government agencies might want to keep the County Board size referendum in the back of their mind. There are many issues on which the public sometimes has a more common sense approach than government insiders. Sometimes the public knows best.
For more information and detailed maps regarding the redistricting plan, visit www.co.saint-croix.wi.us. We agree with the voters on the County Board size issue and look forward to seeing the new 19-member board in operation next year.