Wisconsin counties could see their numbers shrink. That's under proposed legislation at the Capitol, which would form a special task force to examine how Wisconsin counties can be consolidated. It comes from State Representative Sheldon Wasserman (D-Milwaukee), who wants to reduce the number of counties in the state from 72 to 18 or less.
Wasserman says the current county government system is out of date and consolidation would save millions of dollars. He says joining counties together allows them to reduce the amount of government bureaucracy and service providers. The Milwaukee Democrat says a regional government organization would be much more efficient.
The proposal is generating some interest from county governments. Wisconsin Counties Association executive director Mark O'Connell says they're open to any concept that could help save money for the taxpayers. However, O'Connell is concerned the proposal may be too limited and that the limit of 18 counties is too arbitrary.
The legislation directs the task force to determine how to consolidate counties by 2011. O'Connell says long term planning on the issue is needed and may take more time than that. He says any restructuring of county government should be able to serve Wisconsin for the next 50 years.
Wasserman introduced a similar bill during the last session, although it set a firm limit of 18 counties. That version never received a legislative hearing.