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City Council to vote on downsizing

City Council to vote on downsizing

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - La Crosse's City Council is moving forward with what is being called its biggest decision in decades - whether to downsize.

Earlier in the year, the city of La Crosse hired a consultant to help suggest new ideas to govern more efficiently. One of those ideas was trimming the size of the council, currently at 17 members.

"We have a very large council for a population our size," council member Doug Happel said.

The proposal on the table this week would cut that number back to 13 members, the same number of representatives La Crosse gets on the County Board. Happel said the change would make for a more efficiently-run government.

"We shouldn't micromanage - we should be a policy-making body, holding the mayor and department heads accountable for carrying out those policies," Happel said.

Mayor Tim Kabat said he is in favor of the idea, as well.

"Reducing that number is going to help build a better team from the elected official standpoint," Kabat said.

The switch would be slow - 2015's council elections would likely be for 2-year terms instead of the usual four, with the goal of fully downsizing City Council on 2017's ballot.

The proposal is up for a vote by the Committee of the Whole Tuesday night, then a final vote by City Council Thursday. This is considered a charter ordinance, meaning it will fundamentally change how our city government works - so that means in order to pass, 2/3s of the council members have to vote in support of it instead of a regular majority.

Even if that does happen, La Crosse residents will have a chance to take the final say on downsizing via a referendum if they ask for one.

Mayor Tim Kabat says there's been widespread support for the idea, and a little change in the city could be good.

"It's really an effort to make our local government higher performing as an organization to get at the bigger issues that we're facing as a city," he said.

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