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Visioning Session for Marinette County June 7

Marinette County Board will gather at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 7 at Newingham's Supper Club in downtown Wausaukee to discuss and create a "vision" for the future of Marinette County. The session is expected to last about two hours.

Administrator John LeFebvre said they will be talking about a vision not only for county government, but for the county itself.

County Board Chair Mark Anderson agreed, and added he would like the visioning process to create a set of goals for the county board to work toward for the benefit of the county as a whole.

Visioning, according to UWEX Community, Natural Resources and Economic Development (CNRED) Agent Ellen Geisler, "is a process of figuring out what we want success to look like. A vision is a picture of the success of a project at a particular time in the future."

Geisler said a vision is not a mission statement. "We see the mission statements as being akin to a never-ending piece of work that we commit to going after for life. It also isn't a strategic plan, which is a map to where we want to go. A vision is the actual destination."

Geisler in March had asked County Board supervisors to fill out some questionnaires on their vision for the county, and reported on them in April. At the most recent County Board meeting, on Tuesday, May 30, Geisler asked supervisors to submit information on when they were first elected to the board, how many years they have served, what issues they were concerned about, what drove them to run for County Board in the first place, and what they consider their greatest accomplishment since being on County Board. Those responses, along with answers to the questions Geisler had asked in March, will be discussed at the June 7 session.

The questions asked in March were:

1. What are we, the county board, doing that we could do better?

2. What are we doing that we could stop doing?, and

3. What should we do that we're not doing?

Answers included:

To the first question:

*$42,000,000 in the bank $300,000 interest, there have to be better ways to invest money;

*Act on studies, not just have new ones (like wage studies).

* Be a good listener and respect other board member's opinions and recommendations.

* Be open minded - look to the future.

* Being more consistent with the committee system if that's the system we use. The Executive Committee is not the County Board.

* Better direction to our parks and waterfalls. Traveling to Crivitz there are very few signs and directions.

* Better discussions that concern the topic and don't recourse to some other topic.

* Change to an action orientated board - act, evaluate new ideas.

* Engaging - know what is going on.

* Expect more accountability from our employees. Accountability goes hand-in-hand with recognizing the value of our employees. Employees who feel undervalued will not perform as well when there is no recognition (wages) for a job well done.

* Find a way to make parks more sustainable - self funded.

* Get over the Niagara Paper Mill shutting down.

* Have more conversation on topics.

* Having the minutes of other board meetings available online is a good thing, but we would benefit more from a communication aspect to have them emailed to all county board members.

* Hiring, training, paying employees.

* Improve budget planning.

* Limit report time on outside agencies.

* Look at improving county operations with an ego toward efficiency.

* Look forward - anticipate problems and resultant costs.

* Make sure decisions we make represent our constituents.

* More effort on the part of county board members to ask questions, research issues, keep an open mind.

* More towards economic development and tourism, think outside the box, increase efforts on silent sports, possible ATV park in Dunbar.

* Need more #s and visuals.

* Need more county board members to be involved in county government, "not just here for a paycheck."

* Not holding outside agencies accountable - Crossroads, MCABI, Rail Commission.

* Promote tourism to Marinette County.

* Public comment - we should allow for questions up to five minutes. Public comment should be part of the minutes.

* Replace county administrator and road commissioner with new people instead of employees.

* Retain employees (i.e. County Administrator, Highway Commissioner, sheriff's department) that may have left because of micro-managing by County Board Supervisors.

* The board and committees need to do a better job of looking forward versus the past. We could do a better job of letting managers manage.

* Think about the whole county not just Marinette County leading Economic Development in the county.

* Watch RFPs and bids more closely for overspending.

* We have committee meetings and get their minutes but I feel some issues could be brought to the board for information more detailed other than department head report.

* We need to make it attractive for employees to stay employed with county including better pay schedules.

*When a committee makes a motion they should explain the reason for the committee recommendation.

2. What are we doing that we could stop doing?

* Borrowing money "the board is addressing this already" but if you have $42,000,000 in the bank, no need to borrow for little projects.

* Concentrate on balancing the budget.

* Considering issues as north/south county issues.

* Creating divisions of north and south.

* Do not be content with status quo.

* Do not be impulsive to "just say no" to costly maintenance.

* Donating large sums of money to city.

* Getting off topic.

* Having coffee and donuts.

* Having long monthly meetings.

* Having only morning meetings rules out a majority of citizens from attending.

* I feel we have far too many committees. Way too many off-shoots.

* Individual supervisors putting on blinders before all information on a subject is given (mind is made up before the subject is even discussed).

* Meetings are too long, plan better.

* Micromanaging of committees.

* North vs. South.

* Nothing.

* Parochial thinking.

* Relying too much on Executive Committee action.

* Save money, don't need to print out all county board supervisors a copy of budgets.

* Speaking out at county board meetings just to hear yourself speak!

* Stagnating.

* Stop borrowing unnecessarily.

* Stop creating this sense of our town or city doesn't get anything it all goes to the others, example north against south.

* Stop ignoring items that are requested to be put on an agenda because someone doesn't think it's important enough.

* Stop looking at the $42 million (of county funds) as something we are getting a return on investment from - would some be better spent as an investment in community.

* Stop paying bills before the parent committees get to view them.

* Stop saying no before fully evaluating an idea.

* Stop trying to make our county a Green Bay or a Fox Valley, we are mostly woods, help each district more.

* Supervisors should not micromanage department which they sit on committees.

* Suspend wage and benefit study.

* Taking employees for granted.

* Too many decisions by the small committees.

* Unsure.

* Us vs Them.

* Wage study.

* We do not need an HR Director. The position is overpaid for the benefit we receive. We could be better served by an HR Generalist with more HR duties placed on the county administrator.

* We have a tendency to micromanage versus setting policy.

* When talking about a subject (example County Jail) bring it up at next meeting to find out what progress the committee is making.

3. What should we do that we're not doing?

* Accept grants to cut expenses of operation.

* Accomplish projects that have been in the works for years already.

* All committee members should be required to spend 8 hours per year in the rank and file to find out what happens in the departments, and get rank and file department representatives to attend all monthly committee meetings.

* Be a bit more detailed on voting issues.

* Be more appreciative of our employees.

* Better communication on county issues.

* Change our bid procedures to give local dealers a little advantage.

* Come up with a 5-year plan for economic development.

* Create an atmosphere that ideas are cultivated and looked at seriously and vetted for benefit.

* Do everything in our power to solve the jail overcrowding issued so we do not have to build a new pod.

* Enhance our economic development system and tourism in the county - need to invest more.

* Get a refund from WHIPLI (the wage study that is currently being replaced.)

* Greater emphasis on developing/encouraging more small business development which would attract tourism spending.

* Greater emphasis on expanding rural broadband, especially to agriculture areas.

* Look at the property that the county owns and decide if there is some that can be put on tax roll.

* Need to be better at planning for the future and incorporate ideas that will improve how the board is functioning and how departments provide their services. Through technology can we provide better services with less.

* Not have county board chair block discussions on wages like Vilas did when 16 supervisors signed a petition to discuss it (this is prior to the latest study beginning).

* Promote the only county airport in Crivitz to increase tourism.

* Recognize the value of our employees and compensate them fairly in order to retain them.

* Return money to taxpayers by reducing debt.

* Set time at each board meeting for discussion on issues before us and where do we want to be 3 or 6 or 12 months from now.

* Stress farmland preservation.

* Submit facts and not hearsay to better inform our constituents.

* The county board should get to know each other better, and then can work together better to accomplish more projects.

Other suggestions were to invest in the future of the entire county, quality of life beyond just infrastructure, cultural events, tourism planning, improve the "stuff" for our youth to do on a daily basis, keep roads in good condition, and listen to employees more, as well as to think ahead and have better working relationships with cities, etc.

There were a few suggestions for evening meetings to allow people with regular daytime jobs to serve on the board, hold some meetings out in the county rather than solely in the City of Marinette, and have more involvement by the full County Board. Some supervisors wanted more discussion and information at board meetings. Some wanted less, which would mean shorter board meetings. There were calls to think of betterment and economic development of the whole county and quit worrying about special interests and positions on the board, and to pay employees better. One supervisor said he/she would not work in the jail for $17 an hour.

County Board Chair Anderson said his hope is to have the board set goals for their vision of the county as a whole, not just focus on how board meetings should be run and how the board should operate.


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