04/12/2012: "Update On The Charter Review Commission Goings-on"
The San Juan County Charter Review Commission (CRC) met last Saturday on Lopez, and will move to Orcas for it’s next Saturday (04-14-12) meeting.
Last Saturday the CRC voted to approve going back to a three district County Council within which one must reside. If the voters were to approve what the CRC has come up with as a working draft, the return to a three member council would in this go-around have a County Manager, similar to, but not the same as the current County Administrator.
The change in title includes a change in what the new Manager would, or could, do. The CRC believes the new title would more accurately reflect the position; presumably because there is a desire by the majority of the CRC to return more administrative powers to council members; including the assigning of duties to the Manager by the Council.
Another big change would be to return responsibilities for preparing the budget for Council approval from the current county administrator form of government, back to the county Auditor.
As for discussion items, the CRC received a motion for, but did not pass, to include adding a section in the Oath of Office for newly elected officials to “uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Washington and the Charter and ordinances of San Juan County,’ as opposed to the current oath that only requires officials to “support.”
Other motions made, but not passed at this time were:
* a motion requiring that in the adoption of all ordinances the County consider its impact and make provisions for compensating those unduly burdened;
* a motion that would allowed future Charter Review Commissions to declare a seat vacant if a Commission member missed four consecutive meetings;
* a motion to have an elected County Administrator;
* a motion that would declare the Auditor to be the Chief Financial Officer of the County with responsibility for budget preparation;
* a motion that would waive the filing fee for appeals of enforcement actions before the Hearing Examiner and prohibit intervention in such appeals.
* a motion that Charter Amendments proposed by future Charter Review Commissions be voted on in years without County Council elections was sent to committee for editing.
The next meeting of the CRC is on Saturday April 14th at the Orcas Hotel from 8am to 3pm (with a break for lunch). Public input is welcomed and there is time set aside for comments at 8:30am and again at 12:15pm (after lunch).
The April 14 meeting is also the last meeting in which motions for changes to the Charter will be considered. The cut-off is intended to ensure that there is time for all proposed changes to be drafted and reviewed before being presented to the public.
Some motions that may be discussed at the next meeting are said to include: the setting the salaries of elected officials, the election of future Charter Review Commissioners, the job description of County Council members, and whether to propose changes to the Hearing Examiner system or the initiative and referendum processes.
Findings supporting the working-model are available at the CRC website: www.sanjuanco.com/committees/charterreview/ .
The website also contains documents considered in the review and the schedule of meetings. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meetings and to contact any member of the Commission to voice their opinions (e-mails sent to email@example.com will be received by all of the CRC members).