Committee nixes mayor’s plan to reconfigure public works board

Board of Public Works vacancy remains

La Crosse’s Board of Public Works won’t be undergoing a transformation anytime soon, even though the department’s director recently retired.

Former director Dale Hexom retired at the end of the year, creating a wave of change for the department.

The position of public works director was eliminated by the city and the remaining positions in the Public Works department were dissolved into the city engineering and mayor’s offices.

Mayor Tim Kabat says he thought Hexom’s retirement would also be an opportunity to reshape the Public Works committee, with his plan being to replace department employees with city officials.

“I do think there are times when it’s a bit clumsy when we’ve got staff members voting on policies which impact other staff,” said Mayor Kabat. “I think that’s one of those issues where policy should be made by elected officials which are held accountable by people by re-election.”

The city’s Judiciary and Administrative Committee rejected the mayor’s proposal at a meeting earlier this week.

That means the Public Works board will continue on with six members and one vacancy. The mayor says the city will have to address how to fill that empty spot on the board in the future.