How Crow Wing County interacts with employees and residents via committees changed Tuesday.
After a quick moving early morning, the agenda bogged down as commissioners slogged through plans to restructure committees. But members said they were determined to finish the work after discussing committee options on and off for months.
Three major standing advisory committees were created - transportation, parks and trails and waste management.
The new standard model calls for two commissioners and five appointed members - one from each commissioner district to serve on specific committees. In addition, the board voted to have appointees serve congruently with the appointing commissioner's term. Appointees will be reviewed annually.
Commissioner Rosemary Franzen spoke of the inability of new commissioners to appoint their own choices to advisory posts as appointees from previous boards were still serving allotted terms. County Attorney Don Ryan said a goal of staggered terms is to ensure the committees retain members with experience as new people are appointed.
Recorder Kathy Ludenia suggested some of the committees made up of staff members slated to be dissolved could continue as working groups.
"You can't be experts at everything," Ludenia said. "You need that input. I think we are going to lose a lot of wonderful input."
County Administrator David Hamilton said problem-solving groups may always be formed on a daily basis. For the administrative committees, Hamilton said the standard format is a way to ensure information would reach the board level, something that didn't always happen in the past.
Commissioner Paul Thiede said he didn't want to diminish input but the board should be establishing policy and carry the weight of policy discussions. Board Chairwoman Rachel Reabe Nystrom said she didn't want employees to think the board was squashing conversation.
Commissioners established three administrative committees - for budget, personnel and technology - where they will serve with department heads.
Thiede's motion, which included limiting staff members on administrative committees as non-voting participants, died for lack of a second. Commissioner Dewey Tautges said department heads should have equal standing and be able to vote as the board sets the policy. The board voted to allow staff members to vote on administrative committees.
The board voted unanimously to modify language establishing the committees to allow for majority and minority positions rather than reflecting consensus positions. The board split when it came to allowing working groups to continue and report to the appropriate committee, passing the measure on a 3-2 vote. Nystrom was the deciding vote after commissioners Franzen and Thiede voted against and Commissioner Doug Houge and Tautges voted in favor.
With advisory committees, the board did not list department heads as members, but commissioners said they assumed the department heads would be attending.
A few committees were dissolved outright or combined into the administrative committees, such as the Buildings and Grounds Committee, E-911 Committee and ATV Road Right of Way Advisory Committee. Others were given the option of continuing as a working group such as the Information Systems Users Group.
The county is advertising for two new committee members each to serve on the Airport Commission, Lands and Forestry Advisory Committee and Thirty Lakes Watershed District.
A committee review is planned in July after the auditor looks at ordinances and agreements that may affect the makeup of specific committees.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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