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St. Joe Town Board eliminates Public Works Committee

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government River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The town of St. Joseph board took up the issue of disbanding the current Public Works committee, and absorbing the duties into the regularly scheduled town board meetings. After a lengthy discussion the measure was approved.

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The move was suggested by the board's newest supervisor, Jim Treager, in hopes that the board would be more involved with budgetary decisions, and not be caught off-guard with large scale bills or projects.

For the past eight years, the Public Works committee has addressed issues ranging from roadwork to sign replacement. The committee had no power to spend any money, but was used to monitor projects and upkeep and send recommendations to the town board for approval and implementation.

"Because public works is such a big part of the budget, the town board needs to know and be a part of the decisions," Treager said. "The board would hear the items, but for specific needs the board could bring in citizen experts on specific areas. This would help keep the public up to date and involved, and would reduce the redundancy of having to send work items back and forth between the board and the committee."

Former Supervisor Dan Gavin worried that it would be a mistake to disband the committee.

"By having the board do all the work, you have the potential to not pay attention to the details," Gavin said. He also argued that there is already a group of citizen experts that are familiar with the town that comprise the committee, and that, "the board still makes the final decision."

The Public Works Committee is currently comprised of three local citizens, Supervisor Rick Colbeth, and Town Chair Theresa Johnson. It costs the town approximately $250-$300 per year to operate.

"I would hate to see the committee go, if the board would like to change to a different method, let me know and we can do it," said Johnson, who also argued that dissolving the board would bring a lot of extra work into the already crowded town board schedule.

After a lengthy discussion, the item was brought to a roll call vote, and the measure passed 3-1, with Supervisor Colbeth absent.

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