Racine County Executive Tries to Create New Intergovernmental Group to Strengthen Countywide Influence | Local News
BURLINGTON — In an effort to unite Racine County leaders into a powerful new organization, County Executive Jonathan Delagrave is urging all 17 municipalities to join forces.
Delagrave has proposed creating an Intergovernmental Cooperation Council for regular meetings that will include representatives from all 17 cities, towns and villages in the county.
The county executive hopes the improved communication will allow nearby communities to work together to address issues and, if necessary, push for change.
The concept is based on a similar approach organization in Milwaukee County which has been around for decades and recently brought together local officials in this county to consider issues such as taxes, public health and racial equality.
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MT Boyle, community project manager for Racine County, presented the idea March 1 to the Burlington City Council, seeking Burlington’s participation in the new group.
“We can start collaborating in a way that we haven’t had before,” Boyle told the board. “It’s something we want to do across the county.”
Burlington aldermen have yet to act on the proposal, but city administrator Carina Walters has expressed support for the concept.
Walters cited state-imposed tax caps as an example of issues facing all municipalities where the new county council could have more “leverage” to seek state-level reform. .
“This is truly an opportunity for communities in Racine County to collaborate,” she said, “to take formal action on issues, challenges, or opportunities between all communities.”
Municipalities that have already joined the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council include the villages of CaledoniaSturtevant, Union Grove and Yorkville, as well as the cities of Dover and Norway.
Delagrave and his team plan to seek participation from all 17 municipalities and convene the first-ever meeting of the new county group in May. The group will begin meeting every two months.
The meetings would be open to the public.
The plans call for each municipality to be represented by its mayor or other higher elected representative. Everyone will have one vote on the council, which means that the smaller villages in the county will have equal representation with the larger municipalities.
Could be “a very effective tool”
Racine town administrator Paul Vornholt said he would not predict how Racine aldermen would view the concept.
Vornholt, however, said he participated in the Milwaukee County Intergovernmental Cooperation Council when he worked for the city of Milwaukee, and found it helpful in helping various communities find common ground. on important issues.
As an example, he cited the need for state reform on “shady store” taxation, which helps big-box retailers lower their property tax bills, often at the expense of other taxpayers. local.
“That’s its strength,” Vornholt said of the county council’s idea. “It can be a very effective tool.”
The Milwaukee County organization was formed in 1967 and today brings together 20 city officials for monthly meetings.
Looking for more activity
Delagrave, who was elected Racine County executive in 2015, has been considering a similar organization for several years. He will replace a group of heads of government which meets approximately twice a year.
Boyle said she was encouraged during her visits to towns and cities to apply to join the new council. No serious objections or concerns were raised, she said.
“It’s been extremely positive,” she said.
Sturtevant Village President Mike Rosenbaum said he likes that when it comes to staking positions, his community of 7,000 will have equal representation with Racine and its 78,000 residents.
Rosenbaum said such an organization would have been helpful during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when all municipalities were struggling to figure out how to respond. Rather than having a patchwork of local policies and practices to control the outbreak, Racine County could have pursued a uniform countywide approach.
Rosenbaum said the intergovernmental concept looks promising.
“I think it’s going to be good for us,” he said. “It works really well with what we need to do.”
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