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Forks Supervisors may Abandon Their Committees

The Forks Board of Supervisors may drop its public committee meetings for less formal workshop sessions.

The will consider on Jan. 19 abandoning its five standing committees in favor of one workshop where members would discuss issues before making decisions at regular meetings.

This would fundamentally change how the board makes decisions.

The committee structure has been in place for six years, but Erik Chuss said there are too many items discussed in committee that supervisors should decide on at regular meetings.

“It’s difficult to follow all the issues; there are too many items discovered outside regular [board] meetings,” he said.

Former chairman David Billings said that there are some problems with the committee structure, but he also worries that workshops would not create a public record for what’s discussed.

“There is no way to document the decisions/agreements made at the workshops for public inspection,” he wrote in an email.

The proposal seeks to replace committee meetings with a workshop where all issues and proposals would be brought.

Up to now, Forks has had five committees: Finance & Administration, Parks & Recreation, Public Safety, Public Works and Community Relations.

The committee structure divides the issues into departments, each chaired by a different supervisor. The public can attend any committee meeting or just the one that handles the issue or proposal that interests them.

Workshops are typically less formal; the board would fall under the leadership of one chairman, who is now Chuss, and this format could give the public fewer opportunites to give input.

The committee structure also can serve to spread influence among the board because a different supervior chairs each committee. But, Billings said, with the current system, a single supervisor could potentially block a proposal at the committee level.

On the other hand, “I am concerned about reaching a consensus at the workshop on a specific issue and voting 40 minutes later,” Billings said. “In this example, the public will have no notice and no opportunity to provide input to the board.”

For Billings, the litmus test for any structure is that it needs to improve transparency between the board and the public and not obscure it.

Details of the proposal and a discussion by the board on this proposal will take place at the , Jan. 19.

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