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Fear and Loathing in the Town of Linn

They know they don’t know in Town of Linn. The town has run like a well-oiled Rolex watch for so many years nobody can remember when it did not. Elections are smooth affairs with speed and accuracy always on hand, and service at the counter is so good you would think the town was some sort of classy retail business.

That’s due to Susan Polyock, and her trusty assistant Myrna, who together are nothing like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and there are no windmills.   What there is now is new dissension. Susan Flame is making a run for town board membership and things are going upside down. The jobs of city clerk and treasurer are being split off once again after junior gyro city attorney came to a determination that a vote of the citizenry in board session could not overcome the result of a plebiscite held months earlier.

Fine. So, the town is looking for a treasurer to put on the ballot, since that will be an elected office. Susan Pollyock is retiring so that leaves an opening for city clerk (appointed) as well. There was a move to end Myrna’s part-time assistant job, but that movement failed. The Flamers are creating change and Jim Weiss, wise and well-experienced board chairman that he is, is dancing faster and better than Fred Astaire ever could, and he’s getting more air too.   The move to split the jobs-clerk and treasure-succeeded on a fishy technicality, but then the vote to appoint what the establishment has wanted all along, a city administrator, succeeded but with no money. The position was capped at $40,000 a year with benefits, which is a paltry sum for any candidate to consider.

There’s a contingency fund that could be used to supplement that forty-grand, but that would also have to be somehow approved (unless, of course, it was paid out in a thick greasy envelope under one of those office work tables). So, the Flamers were able to circumvent the move to bring in a city administrator immediately, but Wylie Coyote has nothing on Jim Weiss, so expect that city administrator position to be filled one day soon. The Flamers have mathematics and prior performance on their side. The town has been run brilliantly for years with one full-time person and one part-time. Now, these two people will be supplanted by three full-time employees and one part-timer. How is that supposed to work when the voters get around to seeing the budget for the Town of Linn? Counting health subsidy and retirement funding, just how much is this huge increase in staff going to cost, and then what are four people going to do back there behind a counter that was so deftly handled by two people before. Town of Linn has a lot of money but not a lot of people populating its countryside.

Town of Linn took in almost 25 million dollars $25,000,000) in property tax in 2017. That’s with a population of fewer than 2500 people! Delavan, two and a half times the size of Town of Linn, took in 16 million ($16,000,000). No town in Walworth County comes close to the revenue taken in by this moderately populated quiet little place. Maybe there are some that feel more of the money coming in ought to be spent. It’s there. Why not?

How is Jim Weiss, the best city administrator and town board leader ever to appear in the area, moderate and adjust this small town culture to keep it from going the way of so many other small town governments across the nation? Modern development, moderation in spending, and careful adjudication of on-hand cash and assets must be creatively and politically handled in such a way as to serve the needs of those living in Town of Linn and also those paying the bills. Jim Weiss is up to the task, so let’s watch him do his thing.

Very closely.

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