Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Transparency the theme at BOCC weekly meeting

by KATHY HUBBARD Contributing Writer
| January 18, 2023 1:00 AM

At last week’s business meeting, Commissioner Asia Williams promised the community transparency in county business. As officials were approving the agenda for this week’s meeting, a member of the public, Dan Rose, suggested that the agenda be more specific regarding the description of reasons for executive sessions.

Rose said that under Idaho Code, it was necessary to state the reason, and that using the words “regarding” didn’t satisfy the code. He requested that, although it wouldn’t be done in today’s meeting, in the future a more concise description would be added to the published agenda.

Williams asked council Bill Wilson to weigh in, as she agreed the wording may be considered vague. Wilson explained that they would want to provide some level of information that would help the community understand without jeopardizing confidentiality. He said they could investigate changing the language to be more descriptive, so they can “strike a good balance.”

Also, on the topic of transparency, the agenda included an item called “District 2 Commissioner Report.” Williams, who represents District 2, said that she wants to do a commission report on what she’s done, what she’s worked on, “in the hopes of being transparent.”

Her report included information about public meetings that had been held about updates to the comprehensive plan that will be heard again on February 22 at 1:30 p.m. She said she’s volunteered to facilitate community workshops the first of which is scheduled for January 24 following the regular business meeting.

She said that during the last week she also met with the Forest Service; attended an emergency planning meeting; was updated by Amtrak about the emergency response process; and attended a meeting with Idaho Association of Counties District 1. She also said that she referred a matter, in response to a community member’s inquiry, regarding open meetings to council Bill Wilson.

“My goal is, to every week, give a summary of what I am working on, what I’m doing, so that there’s transparency,” Williams said.

Commissioner Luke Omodt said, “We have a lot of meetings in the county. I’m here to announce one more, and this is what this one is supposed to do. I’ve spoken to all elected officials in the county and starting in February we’re going to have a meeting of the elected. The public is certainly invited, and we look forward to them attending.”

He said that details will be forthcoming, but that the purpose of having a meeting of the nine elected officials is to discuss “where we’re at, what we’re working on and how we can best serve Bonner County as we move forward.”

In the public comment period, a resident recommended that officials seek more public input particularly regarding land use. Another asked that the county website be updated, to include the audio files and/or preferably videos. He said that often audio files are incomprehensible because people don’t speak directly into the microphones.

Getting down to county business, the consent agenda which included issuing liquor and catering licenses, paying invoices over $5,000 for EMS, Technology, Facilities, Sheriff and Solid Waste departments and plat approval for the Cayton East File and Kearbey’s Corner File was approved.

Commission Chairman Steve Bradshaw’s motion to elect Luke Omodt to be vice chair also passed, as did approval of a medical director consent and dispatch agreement with West Pend Oreille Fire District; and moving a no longer needed 2005 Chevrolet Astrovan out of the Facilities Department into the county motor pool.

Road and Bridge Director, Jason Topp received approval to put weight limits on county roads, and for a $6,000 matching initial funds for road improvements at Spirit Lake cutoff curves. And, Cindy Binkerd, Human Resources Director sought and received approval to change a position in the Planning Department from Plan 1 to Plan Tech and to fill that position as well as the open position in the Public Defenders office. And finally, the Risk Management Department was authorized to pay a $300 vehicle allowance to an employee.

The County Commissioners meet every Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. at the County Administration Building, 1500 Highway 2, Suite 338. Meetings can be accessed by Zoom.

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