Local News

City to study effectiveness of boards, commissions

SITKA, ALASKA
According to the City and Borough of Sitka’s website, there are 16 boards and commissions that handle the specialized business of city government – everything from a three-member panel dealing with city investments to a 13-member Local Emergency Planning Commission.

All of them have quorums at the moment, but nearly half are missing at least one member. And some Assembly members have said various commissioners are frustrated that they’re not receiving enough direction from the Assembly, or that they’re unclear about their particular group’s mission.

“We had a gentleman here from Police and Fire commission … voicing his frustration that the police and Fire Commission don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s sort of systemic,” said Assembly member Phyllis Hackett

Hackett supported the idea, introduced by Mim McConnell, for a municipal summit not unlike Mayor Cheryl Westover’s economic summit in November – an off day, not a regular meeting, during which Assembly members would meet with the leaders of various commissions. The result, Hackett said, would be a clearer picture of what the groups should be doing, and hopefully a more efficient city government.

“And also,” she said, “to evaluate the value of our boards and commissions, and hopefully try and discover which ones are valuable, usable, necessary, and try to weed out those that are redundant or unnecessary.”

That goal might have been shared by everyone at the Assembly table, but the idea of a summit was not.

“I’m not dead-set against a summit,” said Assembly member Thor Christianson. “It’s just, I’m not sure what we would do that would be productive that would cover all of them.”

Christianson said the boards and commissions are very different from each other. Some are required by city code, some are in the charter, some handle money, some don’t.

“Some are more advisory, some seem like almost tangential to the city and have their own missions,” he said. “So I’m thinking maybe a series of joint meetings, one on one, with each commission. When I was on the Assembly before, we would have joint meetings with every commission at least once a year.”

And that’s the direction the Assembly ultimately took last night. It will be up to Westover to invite a group to meet with the Assembly, possibly as early as the next meeting on January 11th.
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