Wisconsin News

Voters will decide if Monroe County Board downsizes

Referendum would force board to go from 24 members to 16

Voters will decide if Monroe County Board downsizes

MONROE COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT) - The question to downsize the Monroe County Board of Supervisors is being put to voters.

Some supervisors would like to see the board go from 24 members to just 16. Last year three supervisors collected more than 1,900 signatures to get the referendum put on the upcoming ballot.

If it passes, one of the major concerns is redistricting. Opponents worry some residents may not be heard.

For the past four years Monroe County Supervisor Craig Buswell has been the representative of about 1,900 people.

"People like myself, a representative of partially rural district, can probably spend $100 worth of gas just driving around and meeting the public," said Buswell.

For Buswell, that price could go up if the referendum passes. It would reduce the size of the board from 24 to 16 members and force the county to redistrict

"If you reduce the size of the county board, you will increase slightly the population of each supervisor district. In our case, about 1,900 per district to around 2,800," said chair of the Monroe County Board of Supervisors, Bruce Humphrey.

Buswell believes it goes against the principle of good government.

"You would be, how do I say, perhaps a little less accessible to the people rather than at 1,900," said Buswell.

However, if you take a look at some of the bigger counties, supervisors represent thousands of people.

"Every supervisor in Dane County represents 13,000 people, every supervisor in Waukesha County represents 15,000 people and every supervisor in Milwaukee County represents 52,000 people," said Humphrey.

Humphrey said it could have a positive impact on districts as well.

"I think that the decrease of size will give supervisors a little wider idea of opinions and perspectives within the supervisory district," said Humphrey.

Members of the Monroe County Board have voiced their opinions, but now it's time to hear from the voters on April 1.

If the referendum is approved by the voters, the reduction in board members wouldn't take place until 2016 after a redistricting process.

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