Committee expansion proposal baffles Oak Harbor City Council

A proposal by Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley to change the makeup of the Marina Advisory Committee is taking on water fast and may sink under the weight of an unswayed City Council.

“I haven’t heard any compelling reason to change the formula,” Councilman Rick Almberg said.

Last month, Dudley proposed increasing the size of the group from five to seven members saying he hoped it might bolster input and effectiveness.

The idea received a lukewarm response at best and didn’t fair much better in a followup discussion Tuesday evening at Oak Harbor City Hall.

Following on comments from committee members, Councilman Joel Servatius said he also doesn’t believe an increase in members is warranted.

“I agree, if it isn’t broke, it doesn’t necessarily need fixed,” Servatius said.

As an advisory committee, the group makes recommendations to the mayor and council on matters affecting the marina, from issues of occupancy and moorage rates to capital projects and improvements.

The marina operates as an enterprise fund, which means it’s self supporting. The facility, which also rents out storage units and parking for trailers, receives no money from the city’s general fund.

Christon Skinner, chairman of the advisory group, was in attendance Tuesday and testified against the proposed expansion of the committee.

Skinner said additional membership might facilitate too much discussion, which potentially could result in delayed action and even a decline in member participation.

“Our concern is, if we add two more members for no compelling reason, it’s just going to take us longer to do what we already think we’re doing very efficiently,” he said.

Ken Hulett, also a member of the committee, expressed similar reservations.

He said it was a surprise to learn about the mayor’s proposal, and committee members are scratching their heads as to why it was pitched at all.

“Our first question was, ‘why?’” he said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

City Council members voiced similar concerns last month. Their decision was to table the matter until the advisory group had a chance to weigh in.

The committee was not consulted by the mayor or city staff at the time of the original proposal.

Dudley didn’t attend Tuesday’s council meeting, but his proposal wasn’t without any support.

Councilman Jim Campbell said he believes additional committee members would be an advantage. Councilwoman Tara Hizon indicated she is not opposed to the idea.

There was general consensus, however, about other changes in the proposed ordinance.

One change suggested that three of the seven members could live anywhere in Washington state, and another that three of the seven need not be marina patrons.

Council members seemed in agreement that membership should not be open statewide, but limited to Island County for the at large positions.

Also, only one non-customer should be allowed to serve, whether the committee is composed of seven members or five.

The council opted instead to table the issue again.

City staff was directed to bring back two versions of the ordinance, one with seven members and the other with five. Both would contain the other residency and customer requirements discussed.


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