Monday, November 20th, 2017

Thinking long term at the county


Waukesha County Supervisor Keith Harenda is taking a long term look at how the Waukesha County Board should operate, especially since there will soon be eleven less county supervisors. With Harenda’s permission, I’m posting the letter he wrote to County Board Chairman Jim Dwyer. I think it’s not only interesting in howHarenda looks at Waukesha County Government, but I think the letter also highlights opportunities for other levels of government and other counties to run more efficiently.

Dear Chairman Dwyer;

As we move forward with a right sized county board it is appropriate for us to set an example for the future by adopting a streamlined approach to policy setting by this body. Currently Supervisors spend way too much time in needless minutia instead of concentrating upon significant policy issues, appropriation requirements and legislative oversight. This outdated tradition I suspect is a holdover from the time prior to Waukesha County having an executive position. The next eighteen months offer the Board an opportunity for critical review, with an eye toward eliminating unnecessary and redundant procedures. In an effort to launch this concept, I offer the following suggestions:

1. Adopt a more efficient schedule based upon the principle of holding one Full board meeting per month and developing a business like Committee structure to facilitate this move.

2. Eliminate the executive committee, as their roll is largely duplicitous of the standing policy committees.

3. Combine the personnel committee with the finance committee since almost all of their issues revolve around fiscal issues

4. Eliminate the custom of “guest” presentations to the full board and relegate these to the appropriate policy committee. Notify all board members in advance so that they may have the opportunity to schedule or ignore these sessions as appropriate.

5. Consider adopting the procedure used by most legislative bodies and schedule a recess during most of July and August. This would accommodate competing obligations during the summer.

6. Bring in an efficiency expert, perhaps from a local university to help develop procedures to streamline the workflow through committees and the full board to help expedite essential and constructive tasks.

This of course, is just a limited list of improvements that we should explore as we move forward. Input from all board members is essential. It seems that Parkinson’s Law (work expands so as to fill the time available) has crept into the County’s legislative process and serves as an obstacle to efficient use of time and energy. Like any large organization including private business, we must from time to time review procedures and jettison superfluous activity that has no logical reason to exist except under the guise of tradition.

With the new budget cycle, approaching now is the appropriate time to enact measures to promote efficiency and set the stage for the new reduced-size County Board.


Keith P. Harenda
Waukesha County Supervisor Dist. 11

Cc all county supervisors

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