La Crosse Mayor proposes merging city departments, cutting staff

Q&A with Tim Kabat
Tim Kabat

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Hoping to streamline and advance city programs and services with the annual operating budget, La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat is proposing merging departments, sharing staff and eliminating some positions.

Budget deliberations offer opportunities to discuss efficiencies in the staffing and resources needed to provide programs and services, Kabat stated.

In a memo, Kabat proposed combining the Parks, Recreation, Forestry & Facilities Department and the La Crosse Center with Streets, Refuse & Recycling, Utilities, and Engineering to create a new department called Operations.

Kabat suggested promoting Jay Odegaard, the current director of Parks, Recreation, Forestry & Facilities to the new operations director post, as he has demonstrated the ability s to lead the departments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the positions the mayor is proposing to eliminate are the city engineering and public works director and the Crosse Center director. Mayor Kabat says those department leaders are eligible and may be planning to retire in 2021. Some of the city’s vacant positions are also up for elimination in the mayor’s memo.

Other staff eliminations proposed in the memo include the courtesy and customer service representative in the mayor’s office, the environmental and sustainability planner position and the sidewalk/ADA technician job. Remaining staffers would take on responsibilities of eliminated positions.

Read Kabat’s memo to the city’s Executive Committee here: Mayor Kabat’s Reorganization memo

The executive committee will meet at 10 a.m. Friday.