In a special meeting tonight, the City of Marshfield Common Council approved the appointment of Tom Loucks as the City’s new Communications Director.
This decision comes four months after the creation of the new position, designed to be responsible for developing and managing the City’s online presence (website, social media), press releases, and public access television (MCTV).
During the City’s Communications Committee meetings last year, Loucks was a committee guest and helped assemble a job description for the position in Marshfield.
There were more than twenty applicants for the position, with those selected being interviewed by a special committee, using research compiled by the City’s third communications team.
Loucks recently left his position as Multimedia Coordinator with the City of Wisconsin Rapids and is expected to begin his new role in Marshfield as soon as next week.
Loucks will be responsible for overseeing Marshfield’s three public access stations, as well as managing the City’s Facebook, City website, writing, editing, and distributing news releases, developing a bi-monthly City newsletter, as well as implementing a marketing campaign for the City that utilized radio, print, billboard, and other mediums.
These responsibilities are more than the current provider, TriMedia (DISCLAIMER) is accomplishing, and is expected to be completed with fewer people and with no decline in service or quality, according to Mayor Bob McManus.
The communications department will cost just more than $200,000 dollars, with final wages for the department’s two employees being estimated at $150,000. Funding currently will come from Charter Franchise Fees, though the longevity of that funding method is in question.
McManus has cited a significant cost savings by the creation of the Communications Department, though some have expressed concern as to the accuracy of these claims. With more citizens using cord cutting services such as Netflix, Hulu, etc, cable fees are repeatedly in jeopardy of being removed/changed if the statewide agreements are changed or if Charter revenue drops.
“I don’t believe that we can get services for 2.0 FTE, so I think that the services will suffer,” said Alderwoman Rebecca Spiros during the initial approval process. “I don’t believe that we have secured a budget at all. So, I have concerns that there are a lot of things that have not been shored up. How do you expect one person to be at multiple meetings, recording meetings, editing meetings, when multiple meetings are occurring at the same time?”
The City will also be hiring a Community Media Specialist. The two positions come at a cost of approximately $150,000 (The City offers a full benefits package including health/vision, dental, long term disability, flexible spending accounts, 457 Deferred Compensation Plan, and WRS retirement plan.)
The Communications Department will be officially active on April 1, when the current contract with TriMedia is complete.