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Council to consider merging committees for efficiency of time, personnel


October 18, 2016

The City Council’s Administration and Finance Committee is re-commending that the council combine four of its committees into two and will continue discussions about three other committees at a future meeting.

The council will consider whether to combine the Administration and Finance Committee with the Property Committee and the Traffic Safety Committee with the Public Safety Committee.

The Administration and Finance Committee has recommended no changes to the city’s Public Works Committee.

It also is recommending regular meeting times for each of these committees. Currently, they meet irregularly, often following a council meeting, as needed.

The Administration and Finance Committee met to discuss the recommendations on Sept. 27. Present were Mayor Jim Gourley and councilors Ryan Underwood and Greg Mahler. Councilor Jeff Goodwin also attended the meeting.

Gourley proposed the idea of combining and restructuring council committees and boards after the Parks Board had difficulty gathering a quorum for its meetings earlier this year.

In addition to committee combinations, Interim City Manager Christy Wurster recommended setting regular times for committee meetings.

“It provides consistency for the public,” Wurster said. “You as councilors, if you’ve got family responsibilities, business responsibilities or you just want to take a cooking class on Wednesday night, you know that you’re available to do that. What I’ve seen, we are setting meetings, and then we set another meeting, and they’re all over the place. For consistency, I think it would be very helpful.”

Wurster recommended combining the Administration and Finance Committee with the Property Committee and holding the meetings prior to the council meeting on the second Tuesday every other month.

“Many of the items you’re considering (in property) are administrative in nature,” Wurster said.

Gourley said 5 p.m. would probably be the best time. That gives the committee 1½ hours before the proposed new regular council meeting time at 6:30 p.m.

Both committees only include councilors – no members of the public.

Wurster recommended combining the Public Works and Public Safety committees because many of the agenda items overlap each other.

Gourley had originally proposed combining Traffic Safety with Public Safety, and after discussing the issue, the Administration and Finance Committee agreed that this would be a better combination.

The Public Works and Public Safety committees only include councilors. The Traffic Safety Committee includes a councilor and six members drawn from the public.

Mahler said Traffic Safety Committee agendas can vary from long to nothing.

When Traffic Safety meets, members of the public often attend, Gourley noted.

Public Works Director Mike Adams told the Administration and Finance Committee that he would prefer to keep Public Works separate, and even if it doesn’t have any agenda, he would like to see the committee meet periodically just to talk about what’s going on in Public Works.

Its agenda can sometimes be long, he said, so he was concerned about holding it prior to council meetings. The committee considered a regular meeting time on the third Tuesday every other month.

The combined Public and Traffic Safety committees would meet at 5 p.m. every month, opposite of the new Administration, Property and Finance Committee.

Gourley had originally envisioned combining the five-member Parks Board and seven-member Tree Commission because the Parks Board had difficulty reaching a quorum, and Wurster recommended combining them, but Goodwin reported that the members of those committees did not want to combine.

Gourley said he wants the combined Parks Board to meet quarterly, with parks and tree subcommittees meeting separately in between.

City Attorney Robert Snyder noted that the two subcommittees would meet only twice each before the each full board meeting.

Goodwin explained that what the two committees do is quite different, and the members may not be interested in the work the other committee is doing.

The Tree Commission is focused on its street tree program, Arbor Day activities and nuisance trees, Goodwin said. Its members are tree specialists, and they’re not as interested in playgrounds, water features and basketball courts. The reverse is true of the Parks Board members.

The changes won’t take effect for at least a month, Gourley said. He suggested bringing representatives of each committee to the Administration and Finance Committee to talk about what they want to do.

The committee also discussed the Youth Advisory Council. That committee is on hold at this time.

“If we want to maintain it, we need it to be revamped,” Mahler said. The YAC hasn’t had a lot of participation. When it does meet, it only has an agenda item or two.

If the city keeps that committee, he said, it needs to give it more to do.

Gourley suggested having YAC members serve as ex officio, non-voting members, of other committees, providing input and reporting back to their own committee. Committee posts would rotate over some period, like three months.

“There are a number of youths interested in serving on the committee,” Wurster said.

The Administration and Finance Committee will consider the YAC further in another meeting.

A resolution will move to council to combine the Administration and Finance and Property committees. The Public Works Committee will require no council action. The council will need to revise its ordinances to combine the Traffic Safety and Public Safety committees.

For more information or to apply to serve on a city committee, contact the city manager’s office at (541) 367-8969 or stop by City Hall, 1140 12th Ave.