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New Wausau Council President to examine mayor versus city administrator

by
Romey Wagner
Romey Wagner

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Wausau city council has several changes. First of all, council members were sworn into office including new 4th District Alderman Tom Neal. The council also selected a new City Council President. On a 7-4 vote, Romey Wagner was elected President over previous President Lisa Rasmussen.

Wagner says it is time to study how the mayor’s office functions, and compare that to possibly having a city administrator instead.  “I’m in favor of a city administrator, and now I want to be able to see from the inside and then study this and find out if that’s what the population wants also.”

Wagner believes it would be wise for the council to speak to other similar sized municipalities and their administrators as they investigate this option.

Several new city council rules were adopted during the reorganizational meeting. Alderman Keene Winters proposed eight changes. Romey Wagner supported the changes.  “We debated them. We changed a few words, excluded things, and passed a version of each one of them, so I think they were excellent, excellent things to talk about. Mr. (Keene) Winters did a good job of bringing (them), good thought put into it, and he brought those forward.”

Winters says the rule changes were proposed to make city government run smoother and to give council members and the public adequate time to study issues before votes are cast. That includes a six day wait between committee action and the full city council.  “Make sure that our committee meetings have some space between them and the council meetings. We’ve been having committee meetings on the same day as the council meeting. The public really doesn’t have a chance to weigh in on a committee action between them. That was a nice change. And then we brought back the Coordinating Committee, which means the chairmen of all of the standing committees will meet now once a month to help coordinate how business moves through the council.”

Winters says the other big change takes the power of selecting committee chairs away from the mayor’s office.  “Committees will be electing their own chairs. I think that’s a nice change.”

The changes go into effect in May. The City Clerk will have to call the first committee meetings to order so they can select a chairperson and vice-chairperson.

With the new city council sworn in, and some rule changes, new Council President Romey Wagner says Wausau has several challenges to deal with.  “Our main issues are how to bring more jobs into the city. Economic development, of course right now, it’s what do we do with the mall? How do we keep the mall which makes for a vibrant downtown? How do we fill the buildings in the industrial park with manufacturing jobs? That’s ongoing. That’s going to be the big issue.”

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