Door, Kewaunee counties discuss consolidating some services
KEWAUNEE – Leaders of the Door and Kewaunee County boards and senior staffs from both counties met Wednesday morning to discuss improving their services and saving money by consolidating some of those services.
Door County Administrator Ken Pabich said the inspiration for the session, held at the Kewaunee County Highway Department shop, was a change in state law that allowed two neighboring counties north of Milwaukee – Ozaukee and Washington – to combine their public health departments.
“They had some changes in staff and they looked at maybe combining their public health departments,” Pabich said.
“At the time, there wasn’t any ability to do that. So they worked with the governor’s office to see if they could write special legislation that allowed the offices to combine.”
The legislation was approved and the departments were combined, Pabich said.
“It was kind of the poster child for how things could potentially work for other counties,” he said.
Since the combining in Ozaukee and Washington counties, other changes in state laws governing consolidation were adopted in the last state budget.
The first issue members of the Kewaunee County Personnel, Advisory & Legislative Committee and the Door County Administrative Committee discussed Wednesday involved their highway departments.
While Door County plows and rebuilds the majority of the local roads on the peninsula, the Kewaunee department does little of that sort of work.
It was suggested the two county highway commissioners meet to determine how changes could be made to improve roads.
Kewaunee County Administrator Scott Feldt suggested investigating a consolidated library system for both counties. Door County already has such a department, while Kewaunee County pays Brown County’s Library more than $50,000 each year to provide services to libraries in Kewaunee and Algoma.
“If it’s somehow possible that there would be a Door-Kewaunee Consolidated Library System, that changes the dynamic,” Feldt said.
Door County Corporation Counsel Grant Thomas said laws regarding multi-county library services needs to be investigation.
Door County Sup. Ken Fisher proposed not making a long list now.
“The question we need to answer is, are we willing as two individual groups to work together to look into the possibilities of where we can save funds?” Fisher said. “To sit here and talk specifics, we could be here for a couple of weeks.”
“We need to identify some areas of potential consolidation, that we know we’re not just wasting our time,” Kewaunee County Board Chairman Robert Weidner said. “We have two department heads, one in each county. We need their expertise before we do anything.”
Door County Sup. Dan Austad suggested, “We don’t just want to have cost savings, we want better services.”
Feldt agreed, saying, “We need two or three areas to have our departments look at, and then pick two or three more.”
The two groups agreed to meet in June to review progress on the discussions.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Door, Kewaunee counties discuss consolidating some services