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County creates oversight committee

A newly formed Oversight and Steering Committee will serve as a legislative body whose members will set an annual agenda for the county commission’s work.
Commissioner Joe Corso presented the resolution from the Rules Committee during the Oct. 31 meeting, referring to the creation of the proposed committee as one of the most innovative acts the commission has ever considered.
“If we adopt this, it will be a giant step toward more cooperation among ourselves and toward dynamic leadership,” he said, saying the committee is also designed to allow communication with the mayor.
Commissioner Mark Ferguson moved to amend the rules of procedure to create the Oversight and Steering Committee, and Commissioner Alpha Bridger seconded.
“It is not the intent of this committee to circumvent the other committees,” said Commissioner Lee Chase, also a member of the Rules Committee.
Commissioner Joe Grandy asked if there is a conflict in the members named to the Oversight and Steering Committee.
“It’s my understanding the committees are named by the Committee on Committees, but this one is fixed,” he said.
According to the resolution, “the committee shall consist of all chairs of standing committees, a commissioner elected by and from the Joint Education Committee, and the Chair and Pro Tempore of the Board of County Commissioners…The Chair of the Board of County Commissioners, or his designee, shall serve as chair of this committee.”
Corso said the Oversight and Steering Committee is not designed to make routine decisions, and will not be meeting year-round.
“It will meet at the beginning of the year and then not again unless needed,” he said.
Grandy asked if Oversight and Steering would be considered a standing committee.
“Yes, but a different kind,” Corso answered.
Commissioner Sam Humphreys said he would “hate to see it limited to five or six people who are going to control everything, which is the way it’s been in the past.”
Chase said the Committee on Committees has increased the number of standing committees from five to nine.
County Attorney John Rambo listed the nine committees as Commercial, Industrial and Agricultural; Public Works and Planning; General Health and Welfare; Public Safety; Zoning Administration Oversight; Rules; County-Owned Property; Solid Waste; and Joint Education.
“I don’t understand why we need to put this committee in place now,” Commissioner Mitch Meredith said.
Corso said one of the reasons is commission members are now setting the agenda for the monthly meetings.
“We need to focus rather than having 25 different agendas,” he said. “We can’t work on everything all the time.”
Oversight and Steering will also be meeting publicly, Corso said.
“The attempt of this committee is to establish better relationships with the mayor, among ourselves, and with the public,” he said.
When asked for an example of an issue that would be referred to the Oversight and Steering Committee, Corso named the need for a county department of recreation.
“Why wouldn’t (General) Health and Welfare consider that?” Meredith asked.
Corso said policy formation will not be done by this group.
Grandy referred to the resolution, which states: “The Oversight Committee will deal with all matters of commission business not specifically covered by other committees. The committee will develop and review private acts for consideration by the Board of County Commissioners. It will have general oversight of operations of county government on matters not specifically assigned to other committees to include, but not limited to, matters involving the County Attorney and litigation, review of base personnel policies, elderly tax relief, county website operations, efficiency in government operations, concerns of county officials, and the coordination of activities and relations between the Board of County Commissioners and county officials.
“The Oversight and Steering Committee shall be authorized to study and develop policy and proposals for consideration by the Board of County Commissioners and to refer issues and matters to other standing committees for further study and report to the Board of County Commissioners. For all other purposes of these rules, the Oversight and Steering Committee shall be considered a standing committee.”
“If you’re asking me to vote, but you’re saying one thing and presenting another in writing, I have a problem with that,” Grandy said.
At this point, Bridger said, “I don’t know how many people are interested in this, but I call for the question.”
The motion passed 18 to six, with Commissioners Pete Speropulos, David Tomita, Ken Lyon, Humphreys, Meredith, and Grandy opposed. Commissioner George “Skip” Oldham was absent.