The Brookings City Council is paring down its list of committees, boards, groups, districts and other organizations – some of which were deemed nonproductive or irrelevant to the city’s needs – its members have attended as liaisons over the years.
“We’re getting down to being more of a working council,” said Mayor Ron Hedenskog in a workshop Monday afternoon. “People only have so much time. People have to work. This is a volunteer job. Some of these groups meet in the middle of the day. There’s travel. … It all gets old after awhile.”
Hedenskog said many entities are still of vital importance to the city, including, among others, special districts in Harbor, the Port of Brookings Harbor and the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority.
The idea of a city councilor serving as a liaison on a local board is so the city either has a voice or can direct the board to what the city needs, or, at a regional or state level, to provide representation from the city or keep communications open between agencies.
But some liaison chairs rotate between city council members in Curry County’s three largest cities. Others are rotated among the city’s mayors, city managers or police chiefs themselves. Some groups rarely meet. Some only allow a voting member of a council to serve.
The American Music Festival was “unproductive” for city council members to attend, said councilor Dave Gordon. No one attended the Brookings Vision Council meetings. The city’s former attorney even “highly recommended” the council stay clear of the doings on its own planning commission – even watching meetings on television – to avoid the appearance of a conflict.
And that doesn’t include the Local Public Safety Coordination Council, Coos-Curry Electric Co-Op, the Oregon Coast Zone Management Association, the Brookings-Harbor School District, the Coos-Douglas Business Development and many others.
“At some point, we should be involved in the community so they know we’re involved,” said councilor Dave Gordon. “We can possibly catch things before they come our way. And if there’s someone there, and they (the outside group) see them all the time, they feel more comfortable coming up to them (the city liaison) to talk.”
City Manager Gary Milliman said in his experience, the city manager received information about all the committees, boards and groups involved with the city and he distributed that to the designated liaisons. Other municipalities appoint a councilor to serve as a member on an outside board – or vice-versa. Sometimes, councilors attend outside meetings on their own time and for their own information.
“There are lot of different ways to handle this,” Milliman said. “A lot depends on how much time you have. And you have to identify entities where the decisions they make have an effect on the city.”
No decision was made at the workshop and the issue will be discussed further at a later council meeting, likely when the new council is seated in January.