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Marshfield Common Council Approves Communications Coordinator
Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 -- 9:12 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director

(WDLB) -Marshfield aldermen will hire a full-time Communications Coordinator to oversee the city's online presence, all press releases and the public access cable T.V. channels.

The Common Council voted 8-to-2 last night in favor of creating a Communications Department. The original recommendation for the position came from a special Communication Committee assembled by Mayor Bob McManus, who sited a projected savings over the current system of contracting with a private media group to operate Marshfield Community Television, or M-C-T-V--while adding services like city Facebook Administrator, webmaster, writing, editing and distributing news releases, and creating a marketing and advertising campaign for the city using print, radio and billboard platforms.

"And with all the information that we've been provided with the people that we spoke to and based on the information that the prior Communications Committee came up with, this is going to be very consistent. At the end of the day, the communication that we will be able to do to our citizens here in Marshfield is tremendous. The other thing that we can't overlook, is $72,000 savings. That's significant. I think at the end of the day, we can all agree on this: we have to do so much of a better job of communicating with the public. We are simply not doing a good enough job. And the committee, who put a lot of hard work in on this, really feel that going in this different direction, we're going to be able to better communicate with our citizens."

The city's Finance, Budget and Personnel Committee voted 2-to-1 last week in favor of creating the position, and sent that recommendation to the Council for its consideration last night. Alderman Rebecca Spiros was a "no" vote then. And she was a "no" vote last night as well.

"I don't believe that we can get the services for 2.0 FTE, so I think that the services will suffer. I don't believe that we have secured a budget at all, so I have concerns that there's a lot of things that not have been cured up. How do you expect one person to be at multiple meetings, recording meetings, editing meetings while multiple meetings are occurring at the same time. And, again, it was sold to us as 1 FTE, that it would not be a department. I think that services will suffer and it cannot be done with 2 FTEs. I believe that, give it 6 months, and they'll be asking for more staff."

Alderman Jason Zaleski joined Spiros in voting "no". The Mayor said surrounding communities rely heavily on community producers and volunteers for additional support, and that model would be followed in Marshfield--much like it is now with M-C-T-V utilizing a number of citizens to help produce, record, and host programs. That number has been reported at more than 40 community volunteers so far this year. Tri-Media currently works under a contract with the city to operate M-C-T-V. The Communications Department comes with an estimated price tag of just under 204-thousand dollars. Final wages for two employees would be determined once the positions are evaluated by the McGrath Human Resources Group which the city uses to set salaries.

The expenses for the new department would not be covered by tax dollars. Instead it would utilize the current franchise fee paid to the city by Charter Spectrum, which currently goes to Tri-Media to operate M-C-T-V. That amount is roughly 225-thousand dollars per year. The current contract with Tri-Media expires at the end of March, and the new Communications Department would be up-and-running by April First, with the Communications Coordinator likely coming on-board in mid-February or early March, according to the Mayor.

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