The increasingly familiar cry of a “lack of information” has arisen once again at city hall.
At the last council meeting, Councilman Steve Bonkowski said he needed more information before he could cast a vote in support of a move to join a coalition of local governments that are girding themselves for battle against the state Department of Ecology over proposed changes to stormwater regulations.
Whether joining the coalition is a wise move remains to be seen.
What’s clear, however, is the city’s council committee structure is an outdated vestige of previous administrations that is no longer serving the council, or citizens, well.
Bainbridge officials are keen on creating ad hoc committees to do the foundational work and review on many items that come before the council.
But a system that relies on only ad hoc committees is flawed to its core.
Ad hoc committees are purely reactionary in nature. An issue pops up, and the council then establishes an ad hoc committee in response.
The council would be better served to create ongoing committees based on broad subject areas: a finance and administration committee, a public works committee, a public safety committee, and so on.
Such an approach is already used with great success with cities across the state. One major benefit is that council members become knowledgeable on a wide array of subjects before a specific issue arises in a council meeting, and relationships with city staff and department heads are also improved.
For the public, there’s also a benefit. Council committee meetings are open, unlike the back-room meetings of the current ad hoc committees.