Task force considers full-time Madison council

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MADISON (WKOW) — A task force that dedicates its time to evaluating government structure is recommending the city cut its number of alders in half and then make each a full-time position.

The Task Force on Government Structure voted earlier this month to approve several recommendations regarding the common council’s organization, but will discuss them again Wednesday since a few members were missing for the vote.

Some of the recommendations included:

  • Cut the number of alders from 20 to 10
  • Pay alders 80 percent of the area median, which is just over $65,000 (signifying a single parent with two children)
  • Retain geographic aldermanic districts
  • Increase alders’ term from two to four years
  • Limit alders to three consecutive terms

If the recommendations stand after Wednesday’s meeting and are approved by the full council, this change would likely go to the voters.

Alder Keith Furman, a member of the task force, told 27 News that a downside to a full-time council is that it could open the door for “professional politicians.”

“You don’t want to see professional politicians do this,” he said. “You certainly want to see random people from the community who have an interest to be able to do that.”

He said there was some hesitation to recommend moving to a full-time council but after hearing more information about what the change could mean, he now supports it. He said it could encourage more people to run for the seats.

“It’s a difficult position,” he said. “It doesn’t pay well and a lot of alders can spend anywhere from 20 to 40 hours a week in the position, and that makes it incredibly hard for people that are either not retired or don’t have flexibility in their job to participate.”

Alders currently make about $13,000 a year.

The task force’s goal is to evaluate the structure of government in Madison and figure out how to get more community engagement. Its final report is due at the beginning of December.

Sara Maslar-Donar

Sara Maslar-Donar

Reporter, WKOW 27 News

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