Mayor Katie Rosenberg

Committee rejects Wausau city communications manager idea

Mayor Katie Rosenberg

City leaders were hoping to fund a new communications manager position to help with press releases, interfacing with the public and the media, and even assist in internal communications. 

That didn’t go over well with the city’s Human Resources Committee this week. 

The city’s HR Committee Monday rejected the position, which could have come with a salary as high as nearly $85,000 per year, according to packet materials. 

Mayor Katie Rosenberg says the city has been working on this position for roughly a year, and would like the position to more effectively communicate with the media and the public. She said there are challenges internally with communication as well, citing an example of some staff members saying they don’t find out about road closures until they see complaints about them on social media. 

And, Rosenberg says, the position would help run the city’s new website which is slated to go live soon. Running the new site will require a lot of work. 

Community Development Director Liz Brodek said her department is typically a lightning rod for press and citizen inquiries because of the developments the city is involved in, and said a communications person would help better coordinate responses. 

But few on the committee were too keen on the idea of hiring yet another position, especially when rent prices, house prices and residents’ water bills are skyrocketing. Committee members said they’ve already been getting feedback on the position, and it hasn’t been good. 

“It’s all been negative,” McElhaney said of the comments. “I want to publicly state how much anxiety there is from residents about how they’re going to make it day to day.” McElhaney says residents in her district fail to see how this spending of their taxpayer dollars benefits them. 

Committee member Tom Kilian and others expressed similar concern from their residents. Kilian said they don’t need a communications person to tell residents what a great idea it is to spend millions of dollars on luxury apartments in the city. Kilian said he supported stronger supervision from the mayor’s department for department heads spreading what he called falsehoods. 

Others have been calling for an administrator or city manager position, and think that ought to be a priority over a communications position.

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