After several well attended and impassioned meetings, the Town of Osceola Board passed an ordinance to create a five member town board with a two to one vote at a special meeting Oct. 22. A public hearing was scheduled just before the meeting in which the vote took place where more than 50 community members voiced their opinions.
The original proposal, spearheaded by newest board supervisor Brandon Whittaker, was to make the transition from the current three members to a five member board as soon as possible. In this proposal, the electorate would have chosen two new board members in spring of 2020.
However, supervisor Mike Wallis proposed to amend the existing ordinance to elect the incoming board members at the same time as the existing board in April 2021.
“I have consistently favored a five member board – that’s not my issue,” Wallis said. “I think the reasons for waiting till 2021 are that we have had three resignations: the clerk/treasurer, the planning commission member, and the chief election officer. I think we should focus on filling those positions. I also think that past board meetings have been turbulent. This will give us time to work toward improving working relationships with the current board. I think this will give us the opportunity to be ready to bring in newly elected members”
Wallis’ proposal was accepted by chairman Doug Schmidt, but was opposed by Whittaker who said, “There is no reason to wait until 2021 to do this. I think we’re using these vacant seats as an excuse not to move forward. We have someone in our community who volunteered their time while we train in those positions – that’s taken care of. I know we can do this. We can get this done.”
Another concern from Whittaker and some community members for this proposal is the possibility of a full board replacement during the 2021 election. Under the amended ordinance, all five members of the board will be up for election in the spring of the same year leaving a chance that all five existing members would be replaced. Wallis assured that the possibility of that happening is unlikely.
Despite those concerns, a two to one vote passed the amended ordinance moving forward to a five-member board in spring of 2021.
The board addressed a big-ticket budget item that would increase road construction. This would raise the budget from roughly $276,000 to $350,000. After discussing several options, a motion was eventually made to bring the existing 2020 budget to the electorate at the Nov. 18 levy meeting.