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Time for a re-evaluation | IN OUR OPINION
Has the city of Bainbridge Island’s Utility Advisory Board outlived its usefulness?
It’s a question the city should be asking itself.
The advisory body — which was formed years ago to give the city council advice on issues related to the city’s stormwater, water, sewer and other utilities — has not met yet this year. Both meetings were canceled; the latest for lack of a quorum.
The number of members on the committee has been an unresolved problem for months. The ordinance that set up the committee dictates that the UAC should have seven to nine members, plus one council member who serves as an ex-officio member.
With the resignation earlier this month of the committee’s chairwoman, the UAC is now down to four appointed members.
Two of those members, however, are still serving despite the end of their terms passing in June 2013.
For the remaining two members, one term will expire in May, and the other, in June 2015.
There apparently hasn’t been a lack of interest in volunteers who want to serve on the UAC, as the city has reportedly received eight applications from potential volunteers (though two applications were subsequently withdrawn).
One wonders why the city council has not pushed forward on appointing new members to the UAC.
Even so, the UAC has long been the most politically charged and controversial advisory group within city government. Resignations and complaints of covert agendas, have been common in recent years.
More recently, the UAC has been unable or unwilling to keep minutes of its meetings, and has considered limiting public comment at its meetings. Also last year, a few of the members engaged in frequent behind the scenes lobbying with the former mayor and others on the council.
Maybe it’s time to reconsider the usefulness of the committee as it stands, and consider the possibilities of the council taking on utility issues under the purview of its own committee.