Possible reconfiguration of Festival Grounds committee proposed; ordinance amendment on hold
Tuesday evening, the Merrill Personnel and Finance Committee forwarded a recommendation to the Common Council, for a reconfiguration of a proposed Merrill Festival Grounds Committee.
As part of the Sept. 13 Common Council meeting, an agenda item seeking approval for a 12-member Merrill Festival Grounds Committee was returned for Personnel and Finance Committee consideration, based on a motion by 3rd District alderman Ryan Schwartzman.
“I have an issue with city officials serving as voting members on this committee. I just don’t feel comfortable voting on this as is.” Schwartzman stated. His motion was seconded by council president John Burgener.
As proposed on Sept. 13, the committee would have consisted of two alderpersons, City Administrator Dave Johnson, City Engineer/Public Works Director Rod Akey, Parks and Recreation Director Dan Wendorf, Enrichment Center Director Tammie Mrachek as well as representatives of user groups including the Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo Association (one member), Lincoln County Fair Association (one member), Food Vendor Group (one member), 4-H Leaders Association (one member) and two at-large city representatives.
As proposed, all 12 members would have served as voting members.
During Tuesday’s meeting, committee chairman Schwartzman recommended a re-configuration to include three alderpersons, and four at-large community members to be selected by the mayor.
City Administrator Johnson recommended the addition of himself as a voting member, along with two council members and representatives from the Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo Association, Lincoln County Fair Association and a representative of the Fair food vendors.
Mayor Bill Bialecki recommended the addition of a third alderperson to create an odd-numbered committee of seven.
“I have no problem with having the rodeo and fair represented on the committee,” Schwartzman stated. “Again, I’m just not a fan of having city employees on committees. I know it’s been done before, but I’m just not a fan of it.”
Alderman Tim Meehean spoke in support of Johnson being a voting member of the committee.
“I think it’s relevant as the city administrator will be doing a majority of the leg work,” he said.
Alderman Paul Russell agreed.
“I think Tim’s point is well taken. If you look at what has been done down there (at the Merrill Festival Grounds) and what is in the plans down there, the City Administrator has had a big hand in it. I would agree he needs to be involved in the decision making process.”
The seven-member reconfiguration passed by a vote of 2-1 with Schwartzman dissenting and will now proceed on as a recommendation to the common council.
In other matters Tuesday, the committee considered an ordinance amendment to eliminate the requirement of Common Council approval when hiring relatives for city positions.
The item was placed on hold via motion by Meehean, pending further investigation of the ordinance as written. Meehean urged caution as the ordinance could possibly conflict with federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) guidelines.
The matter will be addressed once again at the October meeting of the Personnel and Finance Committee.