County Board to consider ordinance on geographic name changes
Measure would require $500 fee to process individual requests
BY KEVIN BONESKE
The Oneida County Board would have a say on any proposed geographical name changes in the county under a proposed ordinance backed Monday by the county’s Administration and Labor Relations/Employee Services committees.
County land information director Michael Romportl noted at Monday’s committee meeting that there is no county ordinance currently in place to process requests for changing geographic names. He said the county in the last 16 months has received four requests to name or rename geographic features, which can include lakes, streams, islands, bridges, etc.
“It is required, statutorily, that the County Board acts on these,” he said. “So, this is an attempt to put an ordinance in place to guide the process as there may be more of these (naming requests) in the future.”
Romportl said the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a Geographic Names Council, which works in conjunction with the United State Bureau on Geographic Names to handle naming proposals. The proposed ordinance would designate the county’s Land Records Committee, which would receive naming requests, as a liaison between the Wisconsin Geographic Names Council and Oneida County.
Though naming requests are being submitted to the Geographic Names Council, Romportl said that council likes to hear ahead of time from the county before taking action, for which there is only one council meeting a year on naming requests that have to be submitted by Oct. 1 of the previous year.
“(A name proposal) would ultimately have to go through the county and the council, DNR council, to have it officially named, changed,” he said.
Romportl said last winter there were two geographic naming requests and the county didn’t respond to those requests because there was no policy in place, and that was part of the reason why the council didn’t approve them.
By having a process established at the county level to consider a geographic name change, Romportl said greater public notice would be provided when a naming proposal is considered. He noted the drafted ordinance calls for charging a $500 fee to the party making the request to help cover the costs of notice publication expenses.
When committee members discussed whether to charge more than a $500, such as if the process would be like buying naming rights, supervisor Ted Cushing of Hazelhurst said, “I personally don’t want to see us get involved in making this a profit center for cripes’ sake.”
Romportl pointed out that naming proposals originating from the state council wouldn’t be charged a fee, but individuals making requests would be charged. He also noted the Land Records Committee favored a $500 fee.
The proposed geographic naming ordinance will be on the County Board’s agenda for consideration at its June 20 meeting.