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Alderpersons divided over speedy hires for Human Resources, Department of Public Works directors


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- There’s more friction among Wausau City Council members and Mayor Jim Tipple over the future of the city’s Public Works Director position.  Former director Brad Marquardt resigned while under investigation for possible improper and illegal procedures surrounding the Highway 52 median birds project.

Some council members like Lisa Rasmussen say the Mayor should fill the position quickly, saying about a third of the city’s workforce needs the direction of that person. Finance Committee Chair Keene Winters and Alderperson Bill Nagle say it is time to evaluate how the city functions, and would like to hold off hiring new supervisors until an outside evaluator can examine Wausau’s operations.

Winters says the Finance Committee advanced a recommendation to defund the Public Works Director position to the full city council.  “We have put a neutral recommendation on a resolution to take to council defunding the Public Works Director position in order to force a discussion, because otherwise, if it’s in the budget, the executive branch can go ahead and do whatever they want.”

Winters is frustrated with how Mayor Tipple’s administration is able to do so many things without input from the city council.  “We’ve had a lot of things happen that have been essentially settled by the administrative branch. The council did not weigh in on the Marquardt settlement, it was just done, and we were informed later. We can’t keep going down the road where things are done and we’re informed later.”

Winters says the administration moved very quickly to replace Human Resources Director Michael Loy when he left last month, eliminating the chance for the council to look at structural changes.  “We moved ahead really, very quickly to fill the Director of Human Resources (position) without much discussion among the council. Again, another thing that happened without the council having an opportunity to discuss and potentially bring back the idea of combining human resources with the county. It just was done quickly, so we couldn’t have that discussion.”

The recommendation to defund the Public Works Director is likely to lead to more spirited discussion at city council. The dollars are earmarked to pay former director Brad Marquardt his salary and benefits until the end of the year. What is not clear is where Wausau will find the extra money to pay a new director. That has not been budgeted, and so far, council members have not discussed what account those dollars may come from.

(Listen to our interview with Keene Winters on our website, here.)