City of Madison, Wisconsin | Legislative Information Center
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Bookmark and Share
File #: 61541    Version: 1 Name: Create an Administrative Services Team to support BCC staffing
Type: Resolution Status: Passed
File created: 7/27/2020 In control: Attorney's Office
On agenda: 9/15/2020 Final action: 9/15/2020
Enactment date: 9/21/2020 Enactment #: RES-20-00657
Title: Creating an Administrative Services Team to support and enhance Board, Commission and Committee staffing, training, and resident engagement, and to evaluate the overall structure and size of the City’s BCC system.
Sponsors: Rebecca Kemble, Grant Foster, Syed Abbas, Keith Furman

Fiscal Note

The proposed resolution creates an Administrative Services Team to support and enhance Board, Commission and Committee (BCC) staffing, training, and resident engagement, and to evaluate the overall structure and size of the City’s BCC system. The Team will be housed in the Common Council Office and include staff from the Common Council, Mayor’s Office, Human Resources, City Attorney, and City Clerk, who are already involved in BCC support. It is expected that the Team can carry out their duties with existing resources. No additional appropriation is required.

Title

Creating an Administrative Services Team to support and enhance Board, Commission and Committee staffing, training, and resident engagement, and to evaluate the overall structure and size of the City’s BCC system.

Body

WHEREAS, on September 8, 2017 the City of Madison created the Task Force on Government Structure (“TFOGS”) (RES-17-00714) to examine and make recommendations related to the structure of the Mayor’s Office, Common Council, and the City’s Boards, Commissions and Committees (“BCC”); and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS Resolution specifically asked whether the City’s existing government structure provides adequate avenues for resident participation in government without privileging decision-making on having the time, resources, and ability to attend meetings; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS Resolution specifically sought recommendations that could improve the ability of people of color and those living with lower incomes to participate and engage with City government; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS and its subcommittees met ninety (90) times over an almost two-year period to examine and discuss these issues; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS identified that, historically, the City’s BCC system was constructed to be the primary venue for residents to provide direct input into City decision making; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS studied the structure of the City’s nearly 100 BCCs, including their jurisdictions, processes, and procedures, and asked whether this structure effective engaged all Madison residents; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS invited members of the community to their meetings, including Abha Thakkar from the Northside Navigators, who noted that many factors, like housing challenges, prevent people of color, those living with low income, or those living in marginalized communities from participating in city government, and summarized her point by saying “being poor and being poor and black are exhausting and just trying to survive the day leaves little resource left over to attend City meetings”; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS, in collaboration with seven (7) community liaisons from the City’s most traditionally under represented neighborhoods, created a resident survey seeking input regarding, among other things, whether residents are able to provide meaningful input to their government in the current government structure, including at its BCC meetings; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS held two community open houses to receive resident input on the issues it was examining, including specifically the issue of resident engagement and the City’s BCC structure; and,

WHEREAS, in evaluating the information received at its meetings, through the resident survey, and during the open houses, the TFOGS concluded that the City’s current BCC system, which was set up to be a robust forum for participatory democracy, in fact creates many barriers to resident representation and engagement, including inconvenient times and places of meetings; requirements for in-person participation; lack of childcare and adequate transportation; inadequate training and support for BCC members; uneven level of staff support and resources of BCCs; lack of clear BCC purpose; lack of general civic education; and historical housing patterns and current landlord practices that result in high housing mobility in people earning low incomes, many of whom are people of color and low income; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS also concluded that complicating all of these impediments to engagement is the sheer number of the City’s nearly 100 BCCs, which compounds the difficulty of adequately supporting them all; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS ultimately recommended that the City create an Office of Resident Engagement and Neighborhood Support (“ORENS”) to help address many of these issues and other concerns; and,

WHEREAS, ORENS would be in an innovation in city government that would, among other things, assist in the recruitment of a more diverse BCC structure, train BCC members and staff, provide administrative support to BCCs, and organize and facilitate resident engagement; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS also recognized the budgetary limitations in immediately creating a new City ORENS Department and, therefore, recommended that while the City works toward establishing ORENS it should immediately create an Administrative Services Team consisting of staff from the Common Council, Mayor’s Office, Information Technology, City Attorney, and City Clerk, who are already involved in BCC support and can begin the work of centralizing BCC support in a consistent and equitable way; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS recommended that the Administrative Staff Team be housed in the Common Council Office and charged with working on the issues noted in this Resolution, for which ORENS would ultimately become responsible; and,

WHEREAS, the TFOGS specifically recommended that the Administrative Staff Team be charged with developing systems that facilitate resident participation and ensure prompt and direct feedback to residents who have provided input; and,

WHEREAS, in doing this work, the Administrative Staff Team can also begin work on the additional TFOGS recommendation to evaluate the City’s BCC system and support the CCEC in considering changes and structural alterations that would streamline the size and function of the system in a way that could improve resident engagement,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Madison hereby creates an Administrative Services Staff Team to be led by the Common Council Chief of Staff and consist of staff members from the Mayor’s Office, Information Technology, Office of the City Attorney, and City Clerk; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Common Council Chief of Staff shall contact the Mayor, Chief Information Officer, City Attorney, and City Clerk to find staff who are able to work on the Administrative Staff Team; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Administrative Services Team shall meet at least one (1) hour per week to work on and address the issues related to resident engagement and neighborhood support identified in this Resolution; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Administrative Services Team shall also begin a review of the City’s BCC system and support the CCEC in considering the alternative structures, processes, and procedures identified in the TFOGS Report relative to streamlining the City’s BCC system and making it more conducive to receiving resident input from all of Madison’s communities, not just those communities with the time and resources to participate in the current BCC system; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Administrative Services Team shall keep the TFOGS Implementation Workgroup and the Common Council Executive Committee (“CCEC”) apprised of its work, recommendations, and needs for further resources and support.