Nick Osborne joined Polk County staff as county administrator February 25.
Osborne is a Wisconsin native, born and raised in the Marshfield area. He earned an undergraduate degree from UW—La Cross, studying political science and public administration. He obtained a master’s degree in public affairs and public policy at UW—Madison.
He comes to Polk County with 14 years experience in public administration. For the last eight of those he has served as assistant to the administrator in Rock County, Wisconsin.
He began Feb. 25 and has been meeting county staff and board members, and introducing himself at municipal meetings around the county.
He has visited council meetings in Osceola, Amery and St. Croix Falls, and a Wisconsin Towns Association meeting.
“So far it’s been a whirlwind,” he told county board members last week.
Osborne noted that as he approaches the budgeting process, he does not plan to make large changes until observing the county’s current process.
“We’re going to continue doing the budget process you’ve gotten used to the past couple years,” he said. “I really want to take a good look at it and see the pluses and negatives to it. Along the way I might tweak one or two things based on this first year. So we’ll be meeting with committees and establishing some of the budget priorities, and we’ll move along from there.”
• The hallway of the Justice Center is now home to large-format photographs by youth in Northwest Passage’s In a New Light nature photography program. The Polk County Board accepted the photographs, purchased by donors, and designated the hall a “Compassionate Hallway” in recognition of the hope represented by the photographs. The Sun is planning future coverage of the gallery.
• The board approved funding not to exceed $35,000 for a study of buildings at the county fairgrounds.
• Changes were made to the rural addressing policy to allow for greater flexibility, including allowing dual road names.
• County staff continue to work on a report regarding financial information about the county’s lime quarry report. Osborne estimated it would be finished by May 21.
• The county is searching for people to fill several positions, including IT director and director of the Land Information Department. The search continues for a director of the Department of Children and Families, after an offer was declined. The county is holding interviews to find a coordinator of the Criminal Justice Collaborating Council and is in the final stages of recruiting an assistant corporation counsel. The county is also starting to recruit for summer positions typically filled by college students.
• The week of April 8-12 was designated “Work Zone Awareness Week” in Polk County. There have been over 2,000 work zone crashes in Wisconsin in each of the last three years. Between 2012 and 2017, 55 fatalities were the result of crashing in work zones, including three county highway workers.
• Updates were made to the county’s land use ordinance and shoreland protection zoning ordinance. The maximum height for an accessory building was changed from 25 fee to 35. The changes also allow a reduced private road setback of less than 35 feet if the property owner obtains town approval.
• Reflecting new case law, changes to the subdivision ordinance remove road guidelines and design standards , leaving the responsibility to towns.