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County minutes will continue in all newspapers

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Agreeing shorter is better, St. Croix County Finance Committee members voted last week to print concise proceedings of monthly County Board meetings in all seven newspapers in the county.

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The decision settles ongoing discussions about the value and cost of publishing minutes throughout the county.

County Clerk Cindy Campbell budgeted $9,240 to print the proceedings in 2009, but brought the matter to the committee's attention when one newspaper printed minutes too small to read. At that point the committee voted to publish the minutes only in the Hudson Star-Observer and New Richmond News, the two newspapers with the largest circulations.

Prior to that, regardless of the length of the minutes, each newspaper was being paid a monthly rate set nearly two decades ago. The Wisconsin Department of Administration certifies the rates newspapers can charge for legal publications, but the newspapers had agreed to accept lower rates if the proceedings were printed in all seven newspapers.

Campbell explained that she has been publishing minutes, which are fairly detailed. But state law requires only that proceedings, which Campbell described as "just the substance" of a County Board meeting, be published.

Under the new arrangement, Campbell will submit shorter summaries of County Board meetings to the seven newspapers and will pay the DOA certified rates.

She figured the change will mean a little less revenue for the newspapers, but proceedings will take less space in the papers.

"I think that is a wise path," said Finance Committee Chairman Daryl Standafer. He said the brevity may increase readership.

"We could consider other ways of slicing the cake, but I think this is the way to go," agreed Supervisor Buck Malick as he made the motion to implement the change.

Official minutes of the County Board meetings will be posted on the county's Web site, www.co.saint-croix.wi.us/.

The decision doesn't affect publication of meeting and other legal notices, which are governed by other regulations.

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