Proposal would pare Ashland City Council to seven
Eleven ward nameplates sit in the vacant Ashland City Council chamber. Soon enough, four of them may be discarded along with their councilors. "Everybody in Ashland would still have a councilor, it would just be some changes where the lines are,"...
Eleven ward nameplates sit in the vacant Ashland City Council chamber. Soon enough, four of them may be discarded along with their councilors.
"Everybody in Ashland would still have a councilor, it would just be some changes where the lines are," Councilor Pat Kinney said.
In anticipation of the 2010 census results Councilor Carl Doersch proposed reducing the number of councilors from 11 to seven. Next, the city's eleven wards would be reorganized into four new wards. That means three council members would be "at large" or not representing a specific ward.
"If we're going to do it this would be the time to do it," Ashland Mayor Bill Whalen said.
Whalen hopes the city council seriously considers the plan in hopes of streamlining the community's decision making process.
"It's like the bigger the group the harder it is to arrive at consensus," Whalen said.
In comparison, Lake Geneva, Tomah and Rice Lake have eight city councilors; Sussex, Sturgeon Bay and Sparta have seven. Ashland, with about 8,500 residents has eleven.
By cutting four councilors, the city would save about $12,000, not much considering the $10 million. During hard economic times, however, all options are being considered.
"Being the taxpayer's money, they should have the last say in how the council structure is and, it's only fair because they foot the bill," Councilor Michael Benton said.
Council President Rollie Peterson sees the current setup as most fair for the city.
"You get to a point where if you have just four elected councilors and three at large you could conceivably have four people from one ward," Peterson said.
According to state statute, a Wisconsin city council can vote on redistricting only once every two years.
"I would hope that the council would consider all of that information and then make a decision on their own as far as where we should go from here," Kinney said.
Kinney says that means listening to feedback from the city residents and being patient until complete census results have arrived.