Cutting workload on committee work subject of Monday meeting

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KEIZERTIMES/File Photo

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A handful of city committees could be consolidated as part of a move to cut costs and improve efficiency at city hall.

Recommendations will be discussed at a 5:45 p.m. work session on Monday, May 14 at the Keizer Civic Center.

Some 14 committees, task forces, boards and commissions address everything from urban planning to budgeting, parks and tourism, not including a handful of work groups consisting of a few city councilors. Councilor Joe Egli said some may not be necessary.

“We just seem to keep adding committees,” Egli said, “and technically every two years we’re supposed to look at these, according to our charter, and ask if we’re operating as efficiently as we can.”

The work group tasked with eyeing the city’s committees, boards and task force is doing so in part because of budget considerations: Either the city recorder or her deputy is at each and every meeting, almost all of which are after business hours.

“Because we’ve reduced positions in the city hall side, we have to reduce the workload,” said Councilor Cathy Clark. “Committees are made of volunteers but staff time is involved to ensure proper record keeping and if there’s projects that involve staff, they need to get those done.”

And for as-yet-unexplained reasons, the city appears to be having trouble filling some of its committees. Recently-advertised vacancies have gone unfilled.

Clark is  part of the work group along with Egli and Councilor Jim Taylor are also in the group. Their primary goal was to reduce staff time used on committees by 25 percent.

In fact, the Bikeways group hasn’t had a quorum since July of last year. The group is tasked with creating, developing and implementing bicycle activities and bike routes in the city.

Clark recommends combining the bikeways committee with the Traffic Safety Commission, and said their missions overlap.

The draft report calls for merging the River Road Renaissance committee, which makes recommendations for improvements along River Road, with the Urban Renewal Board, which discussed funding of said upgrades.

“I took this as an opportunity to ask a bigger question: How can we best use volunteer time?” Clark said. “We have a lot of professionals in their field volunteering their time.”

The Parks Advisory Board is recommended to continue to meet monthly. A suggestion from city staff calls for that committee to meet only quarterly, scuttling its monthly sessions.

Its chair, former city councilor Richard Walsh, thought that would be a mistake.

“Meeting once during the entire summer, for example, could mean either that the city council and staff would have to increase their workload to handle park related matters or citizens might have to wait until the fall to have their summer-related issues addressed,”  Walsh said.

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