County Board committee assignments questioned for concentration of power

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN – Shuffling County Board committee assignments drew a bit of opposition at the June County Board meeting.

The board was seeking to fill two vacancies created by the resignation of former Supervisor Michael Vandersteen, who gave up his seat on the board when he was elected mayor of the city of Sheboygan in April.

The Executive Committee recommended that Vandersteen’s replacement, Supervisor Fay Uraynar take his seat on the Law Committee, and also be appointed to the Human Resources Committee to replace Supervisor George Marthenze. The committee recommended Marthenze as Vandersteen’s replacement on the Executive Committee.

The latter move drew opposition, although it was approved by a 17-7 vote.

Supervisor Thomas Epping pointed out that, with the appointment of Marthenze to Executive, Marthenze, Thomas Wegner and William Goehring would all three be serving on both that committee and the Finance Committee.

“With 25 supervisors on the County Board, having three of the same supervisors on two of the most powerful committees causes me concern,” Epping told the board. “Three supervisors makes for a majority (of both committees) and they can pass anything they want to.”

Joining Epping in voting against Marthenze’s appointment to the Executive Committee were supervisors Jim Baumgart, Kris Wheeler, Vernon Koch, Jim Glavan, Keith Abler and Brian Hoffmann. Supervisor Greg Weggeman was absent.

Hoffmann was the only supervisor to vote against Uraynar’s appointment to the Law and Human Resources committees.

Marthenze’s appointment also marks the first time in more than three decades that there has not been a single supervisor from the city of Sheboygan on either the Executive or the Finance committees.

The Executive Committee makes all other County Board committee appointments, as well as a number of other appointments, and reviews more ordinances and resolutions that come before the full board than any other committee.

The current members of the committee are Roger TeStroete (County Board chairman, Oostburg), Wegner (board vice-chairman, Plymouth), Peggy Feider (Sheboygan Falls), Goehring (Random Lake) and Marthenze (Howards Grove).

The Finance Committee is in charge of setting the annual county budget, tax levy and tax rate for final approval by the full board, as well as other financial matters.

Vandersteen had been the only supervisor from the city of Sheboygan on the Finance Committee, but he has now been replaced by Marthenze.

The other members of the committee are Goehring, Weggeman (town of Sheboygan), Devin LeMahieu (Oostburg) and Wegner.

In addition to the dominance of the board’s two major committees by supervisors from outside the city of Sheboygan, the board’s two top offices – chairman and vice-chairman – are both currently held by supervisors from outside the city of Sheboygan (TeStroete and Wegner).

It marks only the second time in the past 35-plus years or longer that both offices have been held by supervisors from outside the city of Sheboygan. From 2006-2008, Goehring was chairman and Jerald Holub (town of Mosel) was vice-chairman.

It was an unwritten tradition for many years for the two posts to be split between city of Sheboygan and non-city supervisors.

In other business Tuesday, the board amended the shoreland ordinance for part of the Kohler Co. property in the town of Wilson.

The reclassification for .08 acres of land would allow for construction of an entrance/emergency access road for the tented forest camping development the company is proposing on its property just north of Andrae State Park.

Two supervisors – Baumgart and Hoffmann – abstained from the vote.

Hoffmann explained that he is a member of the Wilson Town Board, which will have to vote on the high-end camping proposal in the future.

Baumgart said he was concerned about the additional traffic from the Kohler development added to traffic from the neighboring state park, which he said draws about 640,000 visitors a year.


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